Finial of Buddhist priest’s staff (shakujo)

Historical period(s)
Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Medium
Bronze, wood
Dimensions
H (overall): 45.4 cm (17 7/8 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1974.15
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Metalwork
Type

Buddhist staff finial

Keywords
Buddhism, casting, Japan, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), monk, priest, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

Originally used by itinerant Buddhist priests to climb steep paths and to signal their presence by the sound of attached rings, the staff (shakujo) evolved to become a ritual implement with greater symbolic than practical significance. The wide, ornamental head of a staff was attached to a long pole of iron or wood. This example contains symbols from Esoteric Buddhism (Mikkyo), including stupas (relic monuments) at the center and disks representing the sun and moon at upper left and right.

Published References
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 42, p. 54.
  • Paths to Perfection, Buddhist Art at the Freer/Sackler. Washington. pp. 102-103.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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