zushi (Buddhist Shrine)

About this object

History of use

Zushi (厨子) usually enshrine Buddhist statues, but may contain painted images, relics or scriptures. They vary in size and shape but typically have a pair of doors in front, hinged at the sides, which can be opened or closed. Large zushi are found at Buddhist temples in Japan.


Said to have been collected by Norman Mackenzie in either Tokyo or Yokohama, in October 1931, while en route to the Institute of Pacific Relations conference in Shaghai. The shrine is thought to date from either the Meiji period (1868-1912), or possibly the Taisho period (1912-1926).

Physical description

Small carved ivory shrine (zushi). Inside the small hinged doors sits a carved amitabha Buddha. The outer edges of the shrine are completely covered in carved designs; the exterior and the interior surfaces of the rectangular hinged doors are covered in carved Buddhist scenes. The background wall behind the seated three-dimensional Buddha, inside the shrine, also has a simpler carved design.