Important Art Object

Finial of a priest’s staff


Period Nara period, 8th century
Materials and techniques Iron
Size H.18.5


Buddhist monks in training carried canes in fields and mountains to protect themselves from beasts and serpents. Such canes were capped with iron heads and dangling metal rings. The clanking noises of the rings signaled people to offer alms to monks. This spade-shaped iron head is attached to the iron pinnacle made by coiling iron sheet into a cone shape. The top of the iron head is formed in a shape of nine-layered stupa (pagoda) and the holes at the bottom of the iron pinnacle are for inserting a long wooden pole.

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