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The Material Culture of Death in Medieval Japan$
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Karen M. Gerhart

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832612

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832612.001.0001

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Portraits of the Deceased

Portraits of the Deceased

Chapter:
(p.147) 5 Portraits of the Deceased
Source:
The Material Culture of Death in Medieval Japan
Author(s):

Karen M. Gerhart

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824832612.003.0005

This chapter examines the types of portraits used at funerals and memorial services. In medieval Japan, portraits of the deceased were considered ritual implements essential to Buddhist funerals and to the offering services performed on behalf of the deceased. In both of these contexts, portraits functioned as consecrated images through which the presence of the deceased could be invoked. This chapter begins with a discussion of portraits used in conjunction with Buddhist services for the dead and goes on to describe their function in the funerals and memorial rituals of Japan’s medieval elites. It also analyzes the terminology for mortuary portraits and raises a number of questions, such as when and where the portraits were displayed, who commissioned them and when, and what types of rites were performed before them. The chapter concludes by assessing the relationship between accuracy and efficacy in portraits; more specifically, how important it was for a portrait of the deceased to be an accurate rendition of its corporeal subject.

Keywords:   portraits, funerals, memorial services, medieval Japan, deceased, ritual implements, rituals, elites, accuracy, efficacy

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