Nissan Seminar: The Buddhist Body of the King: Ritual practices of consecration in medieval Japan

Convenors: Dr Giulio Pugliese and Professor Hugh Whittaker

Speaker(s): Prof. Lucia Dolce



The medieval period (11-16c) in Japan was a moment of great creativity in the religious and political sphere. Shaped by Tantric Buddhism, new notions of attainment emerged, articulated through distinctive practices and unconventional visual forms. This talk re-reads a curious portrait of Go-Daigo Tenno in light of an influential ritual of Tantric consecration that was constructed anew in the medieval period. Drawing on unpublished documents that have recently been uncovered in Japanese temple archives, it retrieves the conceptions of the body that underlie the ritual and explores their impact on the discourse on the legitimation of the ruler.   


Lucia Dolce is Numata Professor of Japanese Buddhism at SOAS, University of London, and Chair of the Centre of Buddhist Studies and the SOAS Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions. Her work explores hermeneutical practices of East Asian Buddhism and the performative and visual dimension of religion in Japan, with a focus on the medieval period. She has published extensively, in English and in Japanese, on distinct Buddhist traditions, Shinto combinatory cults and ritual iconography.