Details from the Incense Burner at the Kamakura Great Buddha.

We went to see the Great Buddha at the Kōtoku-in Temple in Kamakara.

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In front of the Buddha is a great, bronze incense burner. One of the first things I noticed on it were the doors to its interior.

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Centuries of hands and fingers have rubbed and worn the surface of the metal.

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People place bundles of incense sticks inside. Some wave their hands to surround themselves with the scented smoke.

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I looked some more at the burner and near the base, saw a ring small high-relief designs inside recessed panels. The designs were animals, beautifully executed…they were the Chinese zodiacal years. I got down on my knees and traveled around the burner, taking a photograph of each panel as I went. Then I did it again, with flash, to insure that at least one image of each panel would be a decent exposure.

The names of the years in the cycle are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Let’s look at them, one at a time.

Rat,

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Ox,

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Tiger,

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Rabbit,

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Dragon,

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Snake,

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Horse,

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Sheep,

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Monkey,

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Rooster,

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Dog,

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And Pig…

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