Clay Dog Charm | Rare Vintage Inu Omamori from Hokke-ji
The historical tradition of crafting Inu Omamori dates from the eighth century, and comes from the oldest Buddhist convent for women in Japan. The Hokke-ji, which was founded by the Empress Komyo, was primarily devoted to the welfare of women, the poor, and the sick. Hokke-ji is where the Imperial Princess and noblewoman (monzeki) has been interned for the past 1,200 years. These beautifully crafted little dogs are said to “protect individuals from all evils and ensure a safe delivery to ones destination“.
This belief and practice continues to this day, but only a very small number of dog charms are produced. This piece is hand-formed of natural clay, sun-dried, finished in a white iridescent pearl finish, and decorated with a red string collar. The Inu Omamori has an auspicious symbol on its side in the form of a pine branch motif honoring the Buddhist ritual of burning of pine trees (tree of peace / herb of immortality) in religious ceremonies at home and in the temple. For Buddhists, the rising smoke and fragrance of pine and incense symbolizes unity with the higher realms of consciousness and purification of the spirit and environment.
The making of Hokke-ji charms represent a religious rite for entering the sisterhood, for the novitiates recite sutras while crafting the piece, and the completed dog is blessed before an image of Kannon(Goddess of Mercy). Limited examples can be bought and only at Hokke-ji after a formal introduction to the abbess. Approximate age: 1970. Dimensions: 1-7/8”w x ¾”h