Mōsō Biwa (盲僧琵琶)


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 681

Most mōsō biwas have tear-shaped bodies, but this rustic fish-shaped example was probably used by a wandering Buddhist monk. Biwa traditions began with blind priests who traveled from village to village singing sutras. The fish is an auspicious symbol of Buddhism signifying wakeful attention since most fish lack eyelids and remain alert.

Mōsō  Biwa (盲僧琵琶), Wood, silk, Japanese

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