Japanese Antiques by Ichiban Oriental and Asian Art

A Japanese Wooden Temple Bell â Mokugyo - Showa

A Japanese Wooden Temple Bell – Mokugyo - Showa

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Directory: Vintage Arts: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Wood: Pre 1960: Item # 881108

Please refer to our stock # 37 when inquiring.
This is a 20th century Japanese wooden temple bell known as a mokugyo. This example measures 3” by 3” by 2” thick. It shows some signs of wear but we believe it to be early to mid Showa, circa 1930-1960. It is in excellent condition.

A wooden fish - Japanese: mokugyo), (Korean: moktak), sometimes known as a Chinese block, is a wooden percussion instrument similar to the Western wood block. The wooden fish is used by monks and laity in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It is often used during rituals usually involving the recitation of sutras, mantras, or other Buddhist texts. The wooden fish is mainly used by Buddhist disciples in China, Japan, Korea, and other East Asian countries where the practice of Mahayana, such as the ceremonious reciting of sutras, is prevalent. In most Zen/Ch'an Buddhist traditions, the wooden fish serves as a signal to start and end a meditation period, as well as to to keep the rhythm of the chant.

The traditional instrument is round in shape and made out of wood. The fish is hollow with a ridge outside of the wooden fish to help provide the genuine hollow sound when striking the fish (the instrument is similarly shaped like a jingle bell). The sound can differ amongst wooden fish depending on the size, type of wood used, and how hollow the wooden fish is. The instrument is carved with fish scales on its top, and a carving of two fish heads meeting,hence the instrument is called a wooden fish for that reason. In Buddhism the fish, which never sleeps, symbolizes wakefulness. Therefore, it is to remind the chanting monks to be concentrate on their sutra.