Posted by: softypapa | March 22, 2008

Vintage Buddhist Altar Bell Set – Japanese Buddhism Rin

Rin Bell Buddhist Buddhism Butsudan Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Rin Bell Buddhist Buddhism Butsudan Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Rin Bell Buddhist Buddhism Butsudan Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Rin Bell Buddhist Buddhism Butsudan Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Rin Bell Buddhist Buddhism Butsudan Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Rin Bell Buddhist Buddhism Butsudan Altar Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa 

 

Description

Vintage solid brass Japanese Buddhist altar bell with bell cushion (zabuton) and fabric-covered wooden bell striker (bai).  Bells such as this are called ‘rin’ in Japanese and are used as implements of prayer and worship within Japanese temples as well as with home altars called butsudan (please read below to learn more about butsudan).  The high quality rin offered with this listing is in fair to good condition and rings with a lovely tone and resonance.  The bell wears a deep and rich patina suggestive of its age and past use.  The bell cushion as well as the fabric on the striker are worn with some loose seams and the fabric is darkened from age.  This bell set dates from the mid Japanese Showa period (1926-1989) or before.  Proper use of a cushion and striker improves not only the appearance of a bell, but also enhances the quality of the sound it will produce, and for this reason it is very important that the proper cushion and striker are selected.  Please click here to see more items for the butsudan altar!

Size of bell:
Height: 1.8 inches (4.5 centimeters or 1.5 sun*)
Diameter across top: 3.5 inches (9.0 centimeters or 3.0 sun*)
Weight: 6.0 ounces (171 grams)

Size of cushion (approximate):
Height: 1.8 inches (4.5 centimeters or 1.5 sun*)
Diameter: 3.9 inches (10.0 centimeters or 3.3 sun*)
Weight: 1.4 ounces (41 grams)

Size of striker:
Length: 5.3 inches (13.5 centimeters or 4.5 sun*)
Weight: 0.7 ounces (19 grams)

* The Japanese still measure many traditional craft items according to the old kanejaku system of measure which was formally replaced with the metric system in 1891.  Altar bells and accessories are one example where this old system of measure is still used, and brand new religious items will commonly include labels stating the item’s size in kanejaku units.  The basic unit of measure within this system is the “sun” which equals roughly 3 centimeters.

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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 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.

item code: R1S5-0004546
category code: (nipponrin) (butsudannomono)
ship code: L1650


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