'Yurakusai Sekibun'


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'Yurakusai Sekibun'

DAIKOKU. Since the 17th century, Daikoku has been most widely known as the Japanese god of wealth and farmers, although in earlier centuries he was considered a fierce protector deity. In Japan, artwork of this deity usually shows him wearing a hood and standing on bales of rice, carrying a large sack of treasure slung over his shoulder and holding a small magic mallet. There are other forms, including a female form, but in Japan, the god is invariably shown standing on two bales of rice holding his magic mallet and treasure sack. In some traditions, Daikoku is also considered a deity of the kitchen and a provider of food, and images of him can still be found in monastery kitchens and in the kitchens of private homes.
Of Indian origin, Daikoku imagery in Japan is identified with the mythic Shinto figure Oo-kuninushi-no-Mikoto (or Okuninushi-no-Kami, translated as "Prince Plenty"). The lucky mallet in his right hand (uchide nokozuchi) is similar to the Greek cornucopia. This horn of plenty can magically produce anything desired when struck. Some Japanese say that coins fall out when he shakes his mallet. Others say that believers are granted their desires by tapping a symbolic mallet on the ground three times and making a wish. Daikoku is often depicted together with Ebisu, as the two are considered father (Daikoku) and son (Ebisu), although sometimes the two are thought to be brothers. The symbol of the Precious Buddhist Jewel (Skt. cintamani; the "wish-granting jewel"), sometimes found on Daikoku's mallet or belt, represents the themes of wealth and unfolding possibility; said to give its holder the ability to see all things (like a crystal ball). The precious jewel is one of the seven symbols of royal power in Buddhism.


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A Collaboration of Robert E. Haynes and Elliott D. Long


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