Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Gold shrine could contain part of Buddha’s skull

A team of archeologists in China has discovered a shrine that may contain a skull fragment belonging to Buddha. The team found the skull bone hidden inside a 1,000-year-old gold casket, buried underneath a temple in Nanjing.

Engravings on the chest say that the piece of parietal bone, which forms the top part of a human cranium, belonged to Siddhartha Gautama — the revered founder of Buddhism.
The 1.2-metre model shrine is made of gold, silver, and sandalwood, and is covered with crystals, agate and lapis lazuli gemstones. Images engraved on the outside of the shrine show scenes from stories about the life of Buddha, including the moment when he escapes the cycle of death and rebirth known as Samsara.

Inscriptions suggest the chest was assembled during the reign of Emperor Zhenzong, 997 to 1022 AD. According to texts from the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century B.C., Indian emperor Ashoka ordered the construction of 84,000 stupas to house the fragments of Buddha’s remains as far as they could be transported.
Buddhists in Nanjing are treating the artifact as a sacred object, storing it at the pagoda at the city’s Qixia Temple. Many believe that the relic is not just a symbol of the founder of the religion, but also a surviving presence of the Buddha himself.

The shrine was excavated in 2010, and received little attention from Western scholars and media until the article, originally published in a Chinese journal was recently translated to English.