All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Cathleen Cummings

Advisory Committee Members

Heather McPherson

Mindy Nancarrow

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


OBJECTS OF WORSHIP BASED ON THE LOTUS SUTRA: THE GOHONZON BY NICHIREN LINDA WALLINDER-PIERINI DEPARTMENT OF ART AND ART HISTORY ABSTRACT This thesis follows the emergence and transformation of the moji-mandala (written with characters), the Gohonzon created by the Japanese monk Nichiren (1222-1282) and considered sacred to followers of the Japanese Buddhist Nichiren sect. In the context of Nichiren Buddhism, the Gohonzon refers specifically to a hanging paper scroll inscribed in Chinese characters with the words Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, a mantra that derives from the Hokke-kyo, or Lotus Sutra. In Japanese usage, Nichiren's Gohonzon is an object of devotion in its own right and is understood to represent a Buddhist mandala. Nichiren made the production of calligraphic objects of devotion into a major part of his ministry. In this study, I consider Nichiren's Gohonzon in the context of relic and text devotion, an approach that has not been taken by any previous scholar. My research aims to connect the Gohonzon to the practice of relic worship, as sutras have long been regarded as manifestations of the Buddha. I will also evaluate Nichiren's attitude to women Buddhists by reviewing the monk's correspondence with his followers. In addition, I will look into the historic use of mass-production in the spread of religious images in medieval Japan and at present, and will consider the positive and negative aspects of mass-producing and distributing the Gohonzon. Finally, I will examine the current international development of Nichiren's Buddhism and the role of the Gohonzon in the modern world.



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