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Calendar / Painted Prayers
Japanese Ema Votive Plaques
Friday May 20, 2016 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Ema (literally “picture horse”) are wooden votive plaques on which visitors to Japanese Shinto shrines have traditionally written their prayers and wishes for the kami or higher beings to read. The tradition of offering ema to shrines goes back at least 1,000 years to the time when worshippers offered pictures of horses (instead of actual horses) to shrines – a black horse when more rain was wanted, and a white horse when less rain was desired. Over the centuries, various images associated with many different wishes have been painted on ema. Asian art historian, Meher McArthur, will explore the history of these votive plaques and explain the meanings behind some of the images.