Kyoto Buddhist Paraphernalia

It is conceivable that the various pieces of paraphernalia associated with Buddhism were first produced in Kyoto around the 8th century, when the monks Saichou and Kukai were exerting their influence on Heian Buddhism.
Nevertheless, it was not until the beginning of the 11th century that work on this assortment of items began in earnest. This was when, Sadatomo, a sculptor of Buddhist images set up the Bussho workshop close to Hichijo in Kyoto and gathered around him specialists to make the various items required.

It is little wonder that this craft developed in such an environment as Kyoto, which is home to the headquarters of some one hundred or so different sects and nearly 3,000 temples as well as countless national treasures and cultural assets. This work is nothing less than a crystallization of the skill and spirit bringing together under one banner a wide variety of different skills and techniques wielded by masters in each field. The design of the many items made differs for each sect, as do the way in which things are used. All must be accommodated in the making of wooden and metal items, carved wooden representation of Buddha and other Buddhist images.


The manufacturing of Kyo butsugu, a craft rooted in an environment where more than 100 head temples of different sects, more than 3,000 temples and a great number of national treasures and cultural assets exist, can be described as a multi-faceted and sophisticated gem made up of a myriad of integrated techniques.
Each religious sect has its own design and individual specifications.

How to make

Kyo butsugu can be divided into the two large categories of temple altar fittings and household altars fittings. Buddhist fittings can also be divided into wooden fittings, metal fittings, wooden sculptures and paintings. The total number of types of fittings amounts to between 1,500 and 1,600, and each one of them is manufactured by hand. The whole process can be divided into the main areas of wood-base preparation, wood carving, lacquering, gold embossing, gold-sprinkled lacquer application, decorative fittings, metal ornaments and Buddha sculptures, each one of which has its own subdivisions and whose respective components are expertly manufactured.