(Banner for Buddhist Ceremonies)

A ban is a long, thin banner used in Buddhist ceremonies. Such banners adorn the temples during prayer for the repose of the dead or safety of the land. Although they are usually made of silk, the Kanjo-ban, the banner which we will feature this time, was made from very thin plates of gilt copper. There is no other banner like it. Made in the second half of the 7th century, it was passed down at Horyuji, one of the oldest temples in Japan. The banner is more than five meters long and consists all over of fine fretwork representing the world of the Buddhas and angels dancing freely in the sky. The uniquely magnificent banner may have been made at the order of the daughter of Shotoku Taishi, the prince who was credited with establishing Buddhism in Japan. Tokyo National Museum curator Kakuyuki Mita suggests that she could have had it made to commemorate her elder brother, who committed suicide after becoming embroiled in an imperial succession dispute.