Porcelain Offering of the Hands of the Buddha
Item No. 19330
Late 19th Century, Buddhist, China
8.5" x 6" x 6"
( 21.59 x 15.24 x 15.24 cm)
(H x W x D)
Offerings of sweets, fruits, florals and currency are routinely presented to Buddhist images in reverence to deities and in front of ancestor figures as homage to their spirits. This ceramic offering has been fashioned as an “artistic pun,” since the fruit represented is known as the “Hands of the Buddha,” thus, a Buddha would be presented to a Buddhist image. In addition to being used as an offering, Buddhas Hands are used by the Chinese and Japanese Buddhas Hands in other ritualistic ceremonies in temple, monastery and home shrine ceremonies.
Also known as Buddha’s Hand Citron, this odd looking fruit is one of the oldest members of the citrus family. Buddha’s Hand fruit is believed to have originated in northeastern India, and it is thought to be the first citrus fruit known in Europe, having been brought from the Asian continent by the Greeks and Romans. Although it smells strongly of lemon, it has no juicy pulp beneath its rind. Instead, the Buddha’s Hand Citron historically has been used for its powerful zest which has been used to flavor drinks and provide lemon scent to cosmetics. Chinese and Japanese households hang it in their homes as a natural air freshener and to perfume clothes.
The symbolism of the Hands of the Buddha is further enhanced by the Chinese affinity for using homonyms, which is attributing similar symbolic meaning to words which sound alike. Often the words fu (good fortune) and shou (longevity) are placed together as a pair representing “double happiness.” Buddhas Hand Citron is called foshou, quite similar in pronunciation to fu and shou.