May 18, 2010

Tiger Festival

Little little tigers, lined up along the main temple at Tamon Temple.

These tigers (Tora in Japanese) are placed here in our stead, with our prayers, so that no harm will fall on us. Bishamonten, the Buddhist god that is enshrined at Tamon Temple, personified as a tiger. The reason there are so many tigers.

Can you see all the different expressions on their faces? All the tigers are handmade!


Lois said...

They are so pretty! I love their expressions.

arabesque said...

kawaii! ^0^
they do look so cute all lined up.
what does the writing below means?

VP said...

These seem to be quite docile and lovely tigers!

Tall Gary said...

I didn’t know of this custom, Kaori. Now I want one. The hand painting looks quite skilled. I wonder if the figurines are made by slipcasting. Do people buy them as charms and write their own names on them and then leave them under the protection of Bishamonten at the temple or can they take them home? When this Year of the Tiger turns into the Year of the Rabbit next New Years what happens with the figurines? Do they tinkle if you rattle them? There are little balls visible inside some of them.

I could find a little information about migawari here.

Arabesque: From what I could tell it seems like the writing just reiterates what Kaori already told us. That is the place where are the “body substitute” charms that Bishamonten will protect from harm.

My guess is that, because this is the Chinese and Japanese Year of the Tiger, next year the migawari figurines will all be rabbits, and the year after that they will be dragons because that is the pattern within Chinese and Japanese culture. We would have to buy a new one every year if that was the case. An example of Bishamonten also protecting the temple!

Kaori said...

Arabesque, like Tall Gary says, the sign tells you that this is where you should put the tigers! They always leave the tigers there for the whole year so there are a lot more in the fall and winter ;-)

Tall Gary, actually the tigers have to do with Bishamon and not the year, so there are always tigers at Tamon Temple! But like you said, this is the year of the tiger so there was a special ceremony at the Tiger Festival this year! It was really crowded ;D Oh and I ' m not sure if there is a special ceremony for disposing the tigers but I think it's considered bad luck to take it home!

Anonymous said...

Being a "tiger" on my own, for sure of interest to see and learn. Nice caligraphy, which I still have to learn to read/write. Yesterday I managed to learn to speak from one to ten, writing as well.
Please have a wonderful Wednesday.

daily athens

Caroline said...

Aah - they are too cute to be real tigerish tigers!

Tall Gary said...

Thank you for your kind answers, Kaori.

I could find this in a brief search:
“In the 7th century, Prince Shotoku, the son of Emperor Yomei, was deeply devoted to Buddhism. While he was praying at Shigi mountain for victory over Mononobe Moriya, who was disturbing the peace of the country, it is said that Bishamon-ten (the god of warriors) appeared over his head and told him a secret winning strategy. Because this occurred at the hour of the tiger, on the day of the tiger, in the year of the tiger, Bishamon-ten at Mt. Shigi-san has been worshiped as the god of happiness associated with tigers.”

It must be mind-boggling for most of us who visit your blog to think that those cute little tigers are part of a specific tradition that goes back 1,400 years.

I could find here that Tamon-ten can be interchangeable with Bishamon-ten.

You have been a good teacher today, Kaori. And I must apologize for writing too much.

Babzy said...

very nice little tigers , nice shots too ;)

B SQUARED said...

So much better than machine made. More individuality.

arabesque said...

oic, tnx for the info t.gary and kaori. ^0^

Kaori said...

Thanks for commenting everyone!

ρομπερτ, Your Japanese must be improving! When the number is over 10, you may just want to say 'Takusan' which means 'Many' or 'a lot!'
I'm ashamed to say the only Greek I know is 'Opa!' and I'm not even quit sure what it means ;-D

Tall Gary, oh I'm just learning all this, too! Thank you for the links! I have to say again, you'd make an amazing researcher :D

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