Posted by: softypapa | March 17, 2008

Vintage Japan Temple Altar Bell Wooden Buddhist Mokugyo

Mokugyo Suzu Bell Rin Shinto Shrine Jinja Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Mokugyo Suzu Bell Rin Shinto Shrine Jinja Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Mokugyo Suzu Bell Rin Shinto Shrine Jinja Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Mokugyo Suzu Bell Rin Shinto Shrine Jinja Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Mokugyo Suzu Bell Rin Shinto Shrine Jinja Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Mokugyo Suzu Bell Rin Shinto Shrine Jinja Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Mokugyo Suzu Bell Rin Shinto Shrine Jinja Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Mokugyo Suzu Bell Rin Shinto Shrine Jinja Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa 

Description

Vintage Japanese wooden bell and brand new striker used for altar service within a Buddhist temple.  Such bells are called mokugyo in Japan where they are used by Buddhist priests during the performance of religious services.  The bell is struck over and over in quick succession producing a steady cadence which helps the priest keep time during ritual chants.  This large bell (please see size information below) has seen previous service and has some scratches and marks from past use.  The bell is otherwise in very good condition with no cracks.  The bell includes a brand new wooden striker which was specifically selected for the bell by the owner of our local Buddhist altar goods store.  This bell produces a very clear and distinct sound and is suitable to once more be used with religious services or to at last find retirement as an cherished and authentic artifact of Japanese Buddhism.  Though the striker is new the bell itself dates from the late Japanese Showa period (1926-1989) or earlier and was acquired in the historic city of Shizuoka, Japan near the foot of Mt. Fuji.

Size:
Height (bottom of bell to top of handle): 6.0 inches (15.5 centimeters)
Width (side to side along handle): 5.3 inches (13.5 centimeters)
Depth: 4.3 inches (11.0 centimeters)
Length of striker: 13.7 inches (35.0 centimeters)
Combined weight of both items: 13.6 ounces (389 grams)

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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 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 as they are called 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 home of the first born son).  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.

More photos below!

item code: R1S6-0004462
category code: (nipponrin) (butsudannomono)
ship code: G6


Responses

  1. What is the price of this item? Do you have any larger Japanese Wooden Mokugyo, say 10 inch?

    • Hello Ann, Thank you for writing and for your interest in this mokugyo. My name is Kurt Bell and I am happy to answer any questions you may have. I’m afraid that this item has been sold and we currently have no other mokugyo listed. I hope that you are able to find a nice mokugyo and I apologize we have none to show you at this time. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Sincerely, -Kurt Bell kurt.bell@surugatrade.com


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