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The Buddha in LannaArt, Lineage, Power, and Place in Northern Thailand$
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Angela S. Chiu

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824858742

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824858742.001.0001

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Buddha Images and Relics

Buddha Images and Relics

Form, Place, and History

(p.98) Chapter Five Buddha Images and Relics
The Buddha in Lanna

Angela S. Chiu

University of Hawai'i Press

Images and bodily relics are often categorized together as representations making the Buddha ‘present’ for his worshippers. At the same time, due to their physical form, relics have often been viewed as more immediately channeling his presence. Nonetheless, as Robert Sharf has remarked, fragments and ash require reliquaries as frames to indicate their sacred status. Lanna and Burmese chronicles also provide frames by describing a particular visual imagery for relics. This emphasizes the significance of visuality for Buddhist devotion, raising the question of whether relics were always understood as more direct representations of the Buddha than images. Chronicles also indicate how Lanna devotees distinguished relics and statues. Stories of relics inevitably highlight the connection between Buddha and place, and relics did not journey like the travelling images. This theme of place was shared by Burmese stories but less so by Lankan accounts, which emphasize a social hierarchy of relic handling.

Keywords:   relic, Shwedagon, Glass Palace Chronicle, Hariphunchai, stupa, chedi, cetiya

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