Transporting texts: the pagoda


Printing technology was first developed in China, but the oldest printed materials that can be securely dated are Japanese Hyakumanto darani, ‘one million pagodas and darani’. As part of the establishment of Buddhism in Japan, between 764 and 770 CE, Empress Shotoku commissioned a large number of invocations (darani) to be printed in Chinese characters on small paper scrolls. Each one was rolled up and stored in a small wooden pagoda and they were distributed around various temples.

For a full account of this object, and images of others and the texts found inside them, click ‘Open Digital Library’ below.

FG 870.1.4

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