Posted by: softypapa | January 31, 2008

Vintage Buddhist Candle Holders – Butsudan Rousokutate

Vintage Buddhist Candle Holders Butsudan Rousokutate Buddhism Altar Glass Japan Japanese Tokaido Softypapa

Vintage Buddhist Candle Holders Butsudan Rousokutate Buddhism Altar Glass Japan Japanese Tokaido Softypapa

Vintage Buddhist Candle Holders Butsudan Rousokutate Buddhism Altar Glass Japan Japanese Tokaido Softypapa

Vintage Buddhist Candle Holders Butsudan Rousokutate Buddhism Altar Glass Japan Japanese Tokaido Softypapa 

Description

Set of two (2) small glass vintage Japanese Buddhist altar candle holders.  Candle holders such as these are called rousokutate in Japan where they are commonly used at Buddhist temples and within home altars called butsudan.  Please read below to learn more about how the Japanese practice Buddhism in the home.

About the Listed Item

The two white glass candle holders offered here are in good condition though they do have some marks and scratches and there is some slight corrosion on the steel candle prongs.  This set is less than 30 years old.  Please click here if you need authentic Buddhist altar candles to use with your candleholders or here to see more items for the butsudan altar!

Size:
Height of each candle holder (excluding candle prong): 2.1 inches (5.3 centimeters)
Weight (combined): 3.6 ounces (103 grams)

Click here to see more candle holders!
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here to see other Buddhist items!
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here to see additional treasures from Japan!

More about Japanese Buddhist home altars

At the start of the long Japanese Edo period (1600-1868) the Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu determined that the country of Nippon (Japan) should be closed to the outside world with the exception of a few ports of trade.  This was done in an effort to protect Japan from the colonizing forces of the west and in particular to isolate the Japanese people from the influences of Christianity, which the Shogun viewed as a threat to the principals of Confucianism upon which his rule did depend.  Over time this ruler’s fear of Christianity grew such that laws were eventually passed requiring the Japanese to annually swear devotion to Buddhism.  Fearing the threat and penalties of Christian belief, many Japanese families began to erect small Buddhist altars within their home as further proof of their loyalty to Buddhism.  These home altars or butsudan were commonly outfitted with religious implements such as bells, incense burners, candlesticks and statues such that they might resemble Buddhist temples in miniature.  Specialist crafts developed for the sole purpose of manufacturing beautiful wooden butsudan and their associated articles of worship.  Over time, the practice of maintaining a home altar lost it’s original purpose of publicly expressing one’s loyalty to Buddhism and instead became an accepted and important household function, particularly with families acting as the head of the household name (usually the first born son’s household).  Far from being forgotten as a relic of Japan’s past, the butsudan is today an important household fixture which may receive daily attention by family members who consider the altar to symbolically enshrine the spirits and memories of departed ancestors.

In my wife’s (Japanese) parent’s home a large butsudan can be found in the central family room.  My wife’s parents are very traditional Japanese and each morning and evening the butsudan receives a ceremonial offering of fresh water and the first scoop of rice from the rice cooker.   The offering is prepared in the kitchen by my mother-in-law and delivered to the altar by my father-in-law who also rings the altar bell and offers a prayer upon delivering the water and rice.  This practice is still quite common in Japan (particularly with the older generation) and represents an interesting example of how the butsudan retains an important function in Japanese life.  My wife’s family also makes similar daily offerings to a Shinto (native Japanese religion) shrine situated in their kitchen.  The latter offering is to the kitchen god who protects the home from fire.

item code: R4S3B1-0003699
category code: (butsudannomono)
ship code: L1650

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