Finial of Buddhist priest’s staff (shakujo)

Historical period(s)
Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Bronze, wood
H (overall): 45.4 cm (17 7/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Buddhist staff finial

Buddhism, Japan, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), monk, priest
Provenance research underway.

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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