|KEY WORD : art history / paintings|
| Also houshumon. A design of spherical jewels
with slightly pointed tops, frequently with frames rising from the sides. Originally
a Buddhist symbol, the *houju 宝珠
was thought to have supernatural power to grant one's desires. Therefore it was
also known as the jewel of comfort *nyoi houju 如意宝珠 and was included
in the implements of Esoteric Buddhism. Accordingly, it is found in the hands
of statues of *Jizou 地蔵 and *Kannon
観音, and pagodas, stone lanterns and bridge ornaments were made imitating the shape.
At some point the symbol came to be frequently used by Inari jinja 稲荷神社,
perhaps because the flames were considered to be a manifestation of the Inari
deity. As a design, it was used on a wide variety of objects including ceramics
and fabrics, especially during the Edo period. It has sometimes been translated
into English as a pearl or flaming pearl design.
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