View Full Version : Tengu's hat and staff

12th September 2002, 15:08
A friend sent me this hp.

Can someone give me more info on the staff and hat the tengu is using?

Thank you in advance


David T Anderson
12th September 2002, 17:18
I believe the cap and staff are meant to be like those carried by Shinto priests. The legend of the Tengu underwent a change as Buddhism spread in Japan...originally they were crow-like humanoids, but later tended to resemble yamabushi hermits with Shinto overtones [and very prominent noses].

As with a lot of Japanese legend and mythology, nothing definite or clear-cut...

Ian McDonald
12th September 2002, 18:58
Not sure about the hat, but I'd assume it's from some sort of priestly tradition. As for the staff, I have seen one like that before. My iaido sensei has one and, If I recall, he said it was a buddhist priest's staff. The tip is the main thing. It would be of forged iron and the rings (which are spread about in the picture) are there to announce the priest and perhaps scare ghosts as they jangle, I don't know. I think the whole tip is supposed to represent a buddhist flame. It may be used for self defense, either through thrusting or striking and the opennings may be used to trap a sword (but that can't be easy). Hope this helps a bit.

John Lindsey
12th September 2002, 20:41
I thought one use for the cap was as a drinking cup.

12th September 2002, 21:22
The Tengu in that picture clutches what's called a Shakujo or "priest's staff" of (usually) nine rings, more often found amoung the various Shugendo sects of Japan. His cap is also reflective of Yamabushi wear.

Iron Clad Brute
12th September 2002, 23:18
"I believe the cap and staff are meant to be like those carried by Shinto priests."

Actually, there is no connection to Shinto here whatsoever. The staff is known as a shakujo or in Sanskrit Indian a khakkhara. It was introduced to Japan via Korea with Buddhism. Shakujo can be found in India, China, Tibet, Cambodia, Korea, and Japan. In its early years in Japan it had no connection to any one specific tenent of Buddhism, but was used by all followers regardless of their sect or teachings. (Most sects practiced the esoteric teachings anyhow).

Because the monk is obliged to observe the rule of silence, in order to announce his presence, he shakes the shakujo (which rings) at the front door of the house he visits.

The finial at the top of the shakujo can only have 4, 6, or 12 rings, depending on the station of the bearer. The mendicant priest carries a 4-ring shakujo representing the Four Truths; the Bodhisattva carries a shakujo with 6 rings representing the 6 Perfections; the Buddhas carry a 12-ring shakujo representing the twelvefold chain of cause and effect.

In Japan today, especially in Koyasan Shingon, the shakujo used commonly has 6 rings.

The staff carried by Tengu is actually more magical than those carried by men. The staff carried by Tengu is usually called a chijo, a knowledge staff, not a shakujo.

The shakujo came to be one of the 16 objects carried by all Yamabushi for it's supposed ability in expelling demons. A shakujo is always carried in the right hand.

The Buddhas who are represented carrying a shakujo are: Jizo, Monju, Yakushi, and Kannon.

As for the small hat, it is representative of the early traditions of Shugendo, and is purely Japanese. It is called a tokin. Mr Lindsey is close in his guess. It was used to carry water when an exorcism was being performed.