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Sandalwood and CarrionSmell in Indian Religion and Culture$
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James McHugh

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199916306

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199916306.001.0001

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Bois des Îles

Bois des Îles

(p.203) 9 Bois des Îles
Sandalwood and Carrion

James McHugh

Oxford University Press

Early Buddhist literature contains many references to people who trade and evaluate luxury goods for a living. This chapter examines one such episode from a Buddhist story that describes the fortunes of a sea-faring sandalwood trader. Commercial prowess resulting from past good deeds translates to profit in the form of abundant sandalwood that devotees can then use to glorify the body of the Buddha, and this demonstrates the virtue of the mercantile way of life. It appears that early Buddhist texts mention, for the first time, large artifacts made of sandalwood, such as statues. Prior to this, texts only mention the use of sandalwood paste. It appears that this novel material—bulk sandalwood—is for various reasons the ideal material for “framing” the body of the Buddha. From this point on sandalwood also became an ideal material to frame the bodies of other important persons.

Keywords:   sandalwood, sculpture, Buddha, Avadana, raw materials

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