Empress Shotoku (718-770) commissioned one million miniature wooden pagodas (hyakuman to) to invoke calm after the suppression of a rebellion by Emi no Oshikatsu (Fujiwara no Nakamaro) in 764. One hundred thousand each were allocated to the so-called Ten Great Temples in and around the capital, Nara. Today, only Horyuji Temple holds some forty-thousand of the eighth-century distribution.
Each pagoda was turned on a lathe and brushed with gesso; some have traces of polychrome pigment. A small rolled paper block-printed with a dharani, a Buddhist spell or charm, was placed in the drilled pole of each pagoda. These incantations concern the accrual of merit by those who build stupas, like these miniature pagodas, and copy sutras.