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

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 Drawing on unpublished documents that have recently been uncovered in Japanese temple archives, it retrieves the conceptions of the body that underlie the ritual and explores their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.