Oshirasamabotoke, protectors of the silkworm industry

Oshirasama

Oshirasama

Oshirasama are protectors of the home in the northeastern region of Japan. Also known as Oshirabotoke or “Oshira Buddha,” these guardian deities are commonly viewed as patrons of agriculture and silkworm production. They are represented by dolls made up of a foot-long Mulberry stick and layers of cloth called Osendaku. Faces or a horse’s head is carved or painted on one side of each stick.

Oshirasama are often enshrined in the alcove of a main room or on a kamidana altar. Their festival day, called Meinichi, falls on the 16th day of the 1st, 3rd, and 9th months of the lunar calendar, during which the dolls are removed from their shrine and presented with offerings before a new layer of osendaku cloth is added. On the Meinichi of the 3rd and 9th months, a female folk shaman is called to the home to perform a set of rituals.

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