For someone who claimed a while back to be pretty good at finding cool "Asian-chic" items (see this post), I've been bad, bad about actually sharing any. For this, I do apologize, and I pinkie-promise to do better in the future, starting with a somewhat-unusual item today.
First, a little background. I knew something about this device looked familiar. Husband and I used to know a real-live, young but old-school doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine who would make housecalls at our Texas home. She'd show up at the front door, glide out of her black pumps, frown immediately at my slipper-less feet (foolhardy American!), and set to work in our front bedroom pulling out packs of needles, sickly-sweet-smelling herb bundles, and--horror of horrors--The Scraper. This
torture diagnostic/healing device, a simple, low-tech piece of black-lacquered wood (I think), was called something like "The Squotcher" by the dear doctor--a heavily-accented combination of "scratcher" and "squasher," both very appropriate though unfortunate names. The Scraper procedure as I remember it would go as follows: the doctor would sit behind me on the bed and lift the back of my shirt. She would apply lotion to the area about to be assaulted, then she'd get down to business, applying super-human force to the 3-by-5-inch Scraper as she--well--scraped up and down, up and down, vigorously removing toxins and, a time or two, a thin layer of skin as well. If the scraper left the skin with a bruise-like purplish hue, oh, woe--it meant that there was "somesing wrong" in that area, which would naturally necessitate further scraping in the future. Tears would spring to my eyes immediately, but in my stoic acceptance of any treatment deemed Natural, I'd sit in resigned silence. Husband, who is, shall we say, more "vocal" than I, would yell out, "More Lotion!!!" when it was his turn. During the scraping procedure, long, thin needles would be inserted into the insides of the ankles and tapped, then cut-off hunks of the bundled herbs would be stuck onto the non-business end of the needles and set afire. More than one time we feared the cops would come a-knockin', aiming to bust up what they just knew to be a Chinese-American drug ring.
Occasionally Husband and I would also receive "ear acupuncture" via hard jabs to various points on the ear with the tip of a delicate medical instrument, a 50-cent Bic pen. One time I was cured instantaneously of an impending cold or allergy, so I suppose the pain was worth it. An aside: in a pinch (pun intended), ear acupuncture can be self-administered with a fingernail--try it! I must admit limited success and very red ears when attempting to heal myself of headaches, though.
So what does all of this have to do with the above-pictured device? Well, the good doctor, on one of her earlier visits to our home, presented us with a little black box that looks exactly like the Buddha Machine and works the same way. You slide a little switch, and the room is filled with the sounds of a Buddhist chant ("Aaaaah-me, Aaaah-ah" and so-on). It's a very, very mournful sound on a continuous loop; it's supposed to be superbly relaxing and thus healing, so our doctor wanted us to listen to it frequently. We actually did, for a while, until we found ourselves growing overly-morose. We decided the little box was more fit for the Addams family than the Clark family.
The Buddha Box is a hipper, more upbeat (but not too much so or then it wouldn't be hip) incarnation of the little black meditation box. I'm tempted to buy one based on a combination of goofball curiosity, kitsch-factor amusement, and something approaching nostalgia. But since this combination does not include money that's burning a hole in my pocket, I'll hold off. For now.