Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Buddhist Objects :: Around The World From 80 Countries

Zen Buddhist monasteries in Japan, use fish drums (mokugyo) to keep time while chanting religious texts. The sound also helps keep meditators alert, so has been called “the wakeful drum.”  The fish is a symbol of wakefulness as fish never close their eyes, even when sleeping.  A slow beating of the drums also accompanies funeral processions.

The drum is hollow and has a handle on top which is carved to resemble fins. Fish scales are hand-carved on the body.  An inscription painted on it reads, “Donated by Oono Hisakazu as an offering of thanks for granting my wish.”  It is common in Buddhism for lay petitioners to ask deities for help or a boon during times of need.  If the requested outcome occurs, then it is customary to proffer thanks by making a gift to a local monastery.
In Korea, the Buddhist monasteries use copper or brass cymbals to mark time and expel evil spirits.  The two cymbals are tied together by means of an “auspicious knot.”

 By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

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