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Lantern (Ishi-doro)

Asian Art

The stone lantern, or ishi-doro, was originally intended for a religious shrine. The most magnificent example of lanterns in such a setting is the group of two thousand ishi-doro lining the approaches to the Kasuga Shrine in Nara. Made of granite from Sado Island in the Japan Sea, such lanterns ultimately derive from an Indian temple form, which helps explain the combination of Buddhist and indigenous Japanese Shinto motifs. The octagonal pagoda shape is here made in six sections, with a lotus-form base and finial and a central component with two openings suggesting the sun and the moon. A lamp or a candle is placed in the hollowed-out opening. The secular use of stone lanterns as garden ornaments dates from the Momoyama Period (1568–1600). Aged appearance, such as weathered or mossy stone, is highly admired as sabi, one of the Japanese traditional aesthetic values, which reflects resignation, loneliness, and tranquillity.

MEDIUM Granite
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 18th century
    PERIOD Edo Period
    DIMENSIONS overall: 2809 lb. (1274.15kg) component (a - base): 16 × 26 × 28 in. (40.6 × 66 × 71.1 cm) component (b - column): 28 1/2 × 52 in. (72.4 × 132.1 cm) component (c - hexagonal spacer): 9 1/2 × 26 1/2 × 26 in. (24.1 × 67.3 × 66 cm) component (d - light box): 16 × 19 1/2 × 17 1/2 in. (40.6 × 49.5 × 44.5 cm) component (e - roof): 16 × 41 × 41 in. (  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 77.139a-f
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Josephine Vallin Rosenberg in memory of Louis Rosenberg
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1977, provenance not yet documented; by 1977, acquired by Josephine Vallin Rosenberg of New York, NY; October 12, 1977, gift of Josephine Vallin Rosenberg to the Brooklyn Museum.
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    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Lantern (Ishi-doro), 18th century. Granite, overall: 2809 lb. (1274.15kg). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Josephine Vallin Rosenberg in memory of Louis Rosenberg, 77.139a-f. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 77.139a-f_installation_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 77.139a-f_installation_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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