mihashira torii 三柱鳥居
CATEGORY: architecture / shrines
Also called mitsubashira torii 三柱鳥居 or sankaku torii 三角鳥居. A gate-like structure, *torii 鳥居, with a third post to form a triangle rather than the usual two posts. The torii has three top lintels, *kasagi 笠木, collateral or secondary lintels, *shimaki 島木, and tie beams, *nuki 貫, all of which are connected to hold the three pillars together. When viewed directly from any side, the mihashira torii is shaped like an ordinary simple, *myoujin torii 明神鳥居. The origin of this torii is unknown. There is only one example on public view located at Uzumasa-no-Kijima Jinja 太秦の木島神社 in Kyoto. Shrine records indicate that the torii was restored sometime during the decades between 1716-36 when the shrine building itself was rebuilt after a fire. The torii stands in a pond, and in its center is a pile of stones believed to be the seat of a god. The records also state that the three pillars symbolize the heavens, earth and mankind. There is also a reference in the record which asserts that this torii had a connection with Nestorianism, Keikyou 景教, an ancient Christian sect which thrived for about 800 years in the Near East and Central Asia. It is possible that the three pillared torii may have had a Christian connotation. In a private garden in Kyoto, also erected in a stream, is a small three pillared torii. The Christian owners maintain that they descend from an ancient lineage of hidden Christians who used this torii during a period when the prohibition of Christianity was strictly enforced: 1616-1868. They declare that the three pillars represent the Christian belief of the Holy Trinity. It cannot be absolutely proven that this was really the origin. Nevertheless, the possibility exists because even the records of the shrine at Uzumasa, claim that the three-pillared torii, among other things, is said to symbolize faith, hope and charity.


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