Bois des Îles

James McHugh

in Sandalwood and Carrion

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199916306
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980260 | DOI:
Bois des Îles

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Early Buddhist literature contains many references to people who trade and evaluate luxury goods for a living. This chapter examines one such episode from a Buddhist story that describes the fortunes of a sea-faring sandalwood trader. Commercial prowess resulting from past good deeds translates to profit in the form of abundant sandalwood that devotees can then use to glorify the body of the Buddha, and this demonstrates the virtue of the mercantile way of life. It appears that early Buddhist texts mention, for the first time, large artifacts made of sandalwood, such as statues. Prior to this, texts only mention the use of sandalwood paste. It appears that this novel material—bulk sandalwood—is for various reasons the ideal material for “framing” the body of the Buddha. From this point on sandalwood also became an ideal material to frame the bodies of other important persons.

Keywords: sandalwood; sculpture; Buddha; Avadana; raw materials

Chapter.  7962 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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