Thursday, 14th November, 2019

Hanging Lantern – Plum and Bamboo Design in Openwork
(Ume Take Sukashi Tsuri-toro)

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We feature a bronze toro, or traditional Japanese lantern, made in the sixteenth century. Toro means basket of light, and these lanterns were made of various materials, including stone, wood and metal. Their light was produced by a burning wick placed in a dish of oil. This hanging lantern with plum and bamboo openwork measures about 30cm in both width and height. The fire chamber beneath the hexagonal roof has six openwork panels featuring traditional Japanese plum and bamboo designs. Even the patterns’ fine details are clear, even though the majority of it was made in a single casting. The exquisite workmanship is thought to have come from the Tenmyo foundries of what is now Sano City in Tochigi Prefecture. The foundries were known nationwide during that era. Toro arrived in Japan along with Buddhism in the mid-sixth century. They were lit and offered to the Buddha along with prayers. This particular lantern was dedicated to a temple which still exists today in Chiba Prefecture.

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