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Chinese tool specters?


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#1 ghostexorcist

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 04:18 PM

I am taking a class on Buddhist art. The second half of the class has dealt primarily with Japanese Buddhism (Tendai, Shingon, Zen, etc.). We just recently read a story written during the 14th century called Tsukumogami ki (付喪神記, Record of Tool Specters). It tells of how the Japanese believe any inanimate object can come to life and gain sentience. This serves as the reason for why the Japanese discard their old tools, furniture, weapons, musical instruments, etc. into alleyways during the New Year "soot-sweeping" ritual. Some of these discarded objects become angry and decide to exact their revenge on mankind. They pray to the Shinto shape-shifting creation god and are granted physical bodies resembling terrible demons. They begin to take vengeance for their ill treatment by eating people. They are later forced to accept Buddhism by weapon-wielding “divine boys” (kind of like Prince Nezha). They study Buddhism under a set of Buddhist rosary beads that had also gained sentience and a (human) body of his own. Through his guidance, the tools-turned-demons are able to gain Buddhahood. Just in case anyone is interested to read the full story, here is a translation by one of my instructors:

http://nirc.nanzan-u...rs/pdf/819a.pdf

Needless to say, this story greatly intrigued me. I started to wonder if the Chinese had anything like the Tool Specter. The closest thing I can think of is the Chinese notion that a sword can become a dragon. In fact, most other Asian cultures associate some type of blade with a powerful or mischievous spirit. The Tibetans have the Phurba and the Southeast Asians have the Kris. But I don’t think this is the same as the Japanese Tool Specters since ANYTHING is capable of gaining sentience. Does anyone know of any other examples in Chinese mythology?

Edited by ghostexorcist, 12 April 2011 - 04:36 PM.


#2 ghostexorcist

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 10:05 AM

Here is a picture of the Tsukumogami monsters after becoming Buddhas:

Posted Image

The image captions list them as ruling over different realms:

Human (人) - The Essential Cause of Virtue Buddha (Intoku honshōō nyorai, 因徳本性王如来)
Hermit (仙) - The Immortal Adept Buddha (Chōju daiseníō nyorai, 長寿大仙王如来)
Heaven (天) - Longevity Immortal Buddha (Myōshiki jizaiíō nyorai, 妙色自在王如来)
Golden realm (金界) - The Essence of the True Realm of Phenomena Buddha (Hokkai taishōō nyorai, 法界体性王如来)

#3 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 09:32 PM

The tools specters are known in Buddhism as "Buddhism Dharma instruments" (法器). Buddhism has for instance quite elaborate use of dharma instruments, including drums and bells.

One of the typical instruments is the wooden fish (esp. in Mahayana Buddhism). For more info, refer to http://en.wikipedia....iki/Wooden_fish

Another common instruments used in Mahayana Buddhism is the Khakkhara 錫杖 (a prayer staff). For more info, refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khakkhara .

Another typical instruments used in Tibetan buddhism is the prayer wheel (法輪). For more info, refer to http://en.wikipedia....ki/Prayer_wheel

For other buddhist instruments, refer to http://www.buddhista...D=1&&keyValue=2
Posted ImagePosted Image

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#4 Belken

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 01:19 AM

Needless to say, this story greatly intrigued me. I started to wonder if the Chinese had anything like the Tool Specter. The closest thing I can think of is the Chinese notion that a sword can become a dragon. In fact, most other Asian cultures associate some type of blade with a powerful or mischievous spirit.


Kinds of reminds me why grandmothers always tell children not to play with knives.




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