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Weaving and Binding: Immigrant Gods and Female Immortals in Ancient Japan

Weaving and Binding: Immigrant Gods and Female Immortals in Ancient Japan

Hardback

By (author) Michael Como

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  • Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
  • Format: Hardback | 344 pages
  • Dimensions: 157mm x 231mm x 30mm | 658g
  • Publication date: 15 October 2009
  • Publication City/Country: Honolulu, HI
  • ISBN 10: 0824829573
  • ISBN 13: 9780824829575
  • Sales rank: 1,142,781

Product description

Among the most exciting developments in the study of Japanese religion over the past two decades has been the discovery of tens of thousands of ritual vessels, implements, and scape-goat dolls (hitogata) from the Nara (710-784) and early Heian (794-1185) periods. Because inscriptions on many of the items are clearly derived from Chinese rites of spirit pacification, it is now evident that previous scholarship has mischaracterized the role of Buddhism in early Japanese religion. "Weaving and Binding" makes a compelling argument that both the Japanese royal system and the Japanese Buddhist tradition owe much to continental rituals centered on the manipulation of yin and yang, animal sacrifice, and spirit quelling. Building on these recent archaeological discoveries, Michael Como charts an epochal transformation in the religious culture of the Japanese islands, tracing the transmission and development of fundamental paradigms of religious practice to immigrant lineages and deities from the Korean peninsula. In addition to archaeological materials, Como makes extensive use of a wide range of textual sources from across Asia, including court chronicles, poetry collections, gazetteers, temple records, and divinatory texts. As he investigates the influence of myths, legends, and rites of the ancient Chinese festival calendar on religious practice across the Japanese islands, Como shows how the ability of immigrant lineages to propitiate hostile deities led to the creation of elaborate networks of temple-shrine complexes that shaped later sectarian Shinto as well as popular understandings of the relationship between the Buddhas and the gods of Japan. For much of the book, this process is examined through rites and legends from the Chinese calendar that were related to weaving, sericulture, and medicine - technologies that to a large degree were controlled by lineages with roots in the Korean peninsula and that claimed female deities and weaving maidens as founding ancestors.

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Author information

Michael Como is Toshu Fukami Associate Professor of Shinto Studies at Columbia University.