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Department 1

East Asian Studies


That previously stood at the back of the quiet inner courtyard of the Penn Museum waited many years for its significance to be rediscovered. It is one of the Tokugawa lanterns that long illuminated the shogunate family’s grand mausoleums during the Edo period (1603–1868 CE) in the Zōjōji temple in Tokyo, Japan. Photographs taken around 1930 show the lanterns flanking the Museum entrance in the Stoner Courtyard. The prominent placement of these objects suggests that, in those days, the Museum acknowledged the significance of the lanterns. One of the lanterns was subsequently moved to Museum storage after suffering damage from an act of vandalism in the 1950s or 1960s. Although it is not clear exactly when the lanterns left Japan and arrived in the United States, Stephen Lang, Lyons Keeper in the Asian Section at the Museum, has determined that the lanterns came into the Museum collection as a loan in 1919 from Mrs. Richard Waln Meirs (Anne Walker Weightman Meirs Rush, 1871–1958). They may have been sent from Japan by Mrs. Meirs’ uncle, Robert Jarvis Cochran Walker in the late 1880s to be displayed at Meirs’ Ravenhill Mansion. [excerpt]




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This article was originally published by Expedition Magazine.