Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Memorializing Imperial Power through Ritual in the Illustrated Legends of Ishiyama-dera Handscroll

Morrissey, Elizabeth (2018) Memorializing Imperial Power through Ritual in the Illustrated Legends of Ishiyama-dera Handscroll. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

[img] PDF
Restricted to University of Pittsburgh users only until 28 June 2023.

Download (1MB) | Request a Copy


The fourteenth-century illustrated handscroll Ishiyama-dera engi e (石山寺縁起絵 Illustrated Legends of Ishiyama-dera) stands out for its unusual depictions of “secret” rituals—Esoteric Buddhist rites from which the uninitiated were barred from observation and participation. The artists of the handscroll carefully hid the central ritual activity behind curtains or beyond the picture plane, thus preserving a sense of secrecy. For the creators of Ishiyama-dera engi e, ritual was a means of attaining success, particularly the success of the imperial line, as evidenced in the scroll text, which credits the births of several generations of emperors to the intervention of Ishiyama-dera’s main icon, a secret icon (hibutsu 秘仏) of Nyoirin Kannon (如意輪観音). However, the scrolls utilize ritual in another way: through the memorialization of historic rituals for the benefit of their fourteenth-century audience. In this dissertation, I argue that images of historic rituals were used to promote belief and encourage patronage of Ishiyama-dera by appealing to a lay experience of ritual and by providing models of ideal patrons throughout Ishiyama-dera’s history. Approaching rituals through their representation in painting offers insights into how lay viewers and patrons of Buddhist rituals saw ritual—both physically, as the curtained, restricted rituals in Ishiyama-dera engi e demonstrate, and metaphorically, as a means to control their own power and success.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Morrissey, Elizabethemm104@pitt.eduemm104
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGerhart, Karenkgerhart@pitt.edukgerhart
Committee MemberLinduff, Katherynlinduff@pitt.edulinduff
Committee MemberNara, Hiroshihnara@pitt.eduhnara
Committee MemberRajagopalan, Mrinalinimrr55@pitt.edumrr55
Date: 28 June 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 29 March 2018
Approval Date: 28 June 2018
Submission Date: 10 April 2018
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 158
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History of Art and Architecture
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Japanese Art, Ritual, Buddhism, Illustrated Handscrolls, Japanese History, Narrative Art
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2018 18:31
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2018 18:31


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item