Saturday, November 12, 2011


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The readings for today were Royall Tyler, General Introduction, Japanese Nô Dramas (pp. 1-1); Carmen Blacker, The Catalpa Bow (pp. 1-50); Aoi no Ue; and Kamo (in Karen Brazell, Traditional Japanese Theater, pp. 44-60).

V shamanism = essential part of  (Noh)

- Spirits are conjured into or out of human beings by someone who is him/herself spirit-possessed.

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V When and where did shamanism originate?

- around 10,000 BCE in Siberia

- spread to Americas, China, Korea, Japan, South Asia

V Shamanistic World View  familiar human (material) world &  spiritual world

V What can shamans do?

a) can act as bridge/mediator between two worlds

b) in spirit possessions, can speak with spirits and find out what angry spirits are mad about

c) can call down deities to find out about things you have no control over (e.g. weather), give festival and send back

V How do they do it? -- Achieve a trance state by...

a) creating certain kinds of rhythmic sounds

b) stamping, creating circle in dances

c) waving long thin objects (ᖁtorimono)

V Two forms of trance

 dream vision travel


V Two kinds of Japanese shamans

 passive medium (Ɣmiko)

She can enter a state of trance in which the spiritual apparition may possess her, penetrate inside her body and use her voice to name itself and to make its utterance. She is therefore primarily a transmitter, a vessel through whom the spiritual beings can make their communications to us in a comprehensible way. (Catalpa Bow, p. )

- more active in real life; division of labor by gender in , minor characters

 active ascetic (often ʙ�Yamabushi mountain ascetics, or esoteric Buddhist priests)

(This is rather long. Click on more to see the rest.)

V Deities and Spirits in Japan

- native deities (Юkami)

- take on a wide variety of forms and characteristics (Catalpa Bow pp.5-5)

- hierophanies

- often understood to be embodied in natural phenomena, e.g. Ю (ekijin, god of epidemics), ⇇Ю (raijin, god of thunder)

- personified (after introduction of Buddhist iconography)

V What all forms of kami share - free movement between the two worlds

- can give benefits (fertility, rain, etc.) or disasters (floods, etc.)

V When did they take on visible form?

The belief that the kami have any permanent or true form which they can manifest to human senses is late, and derivative from Buddhist iconography. (Catalpa Bow, p.8)

V visible forms

- aristocratic men/women

- sacred old man (ˁokina)

- serpents, snakes, dragons

- Thundergod (⇇Юraijin)

V What is ˪ (tama, also read as tamashî)?

- Catalpa Bow, p. 4 an entity which resides in some host, to which it imparts life and vitality...

- round, glowing ball (ʘtama means round jewel)

V ˪ as living spirit = ¥⇚ (ikiryô)

V What happens if tama leaves body?

- temporarily brief -- little effect; extended -- get sick

- permanently death

V ˪ as dead spirit = ᵛ⇚ (shiryô)

V When Buddhism is added...

- ˪ becomes a buddha (¯hotoke) after death

- When ˪ is fully joined with ancestral Ю, released from attachments.

- Detachment essential for enlightenment. (Ᏸ¯jôbutsu)

V How do you become a ghost?

- most important reason not having proper ritual performed

- communal ancestor (˾Юujigami) - ᵛ⇚ who has died violently or with deep passion in their heart (ለ⇚onryô)

- ᵛ⇚ who has died without family or descendants (͝9¯muenbotoke, a spirit with no link [9en] to the living)

V Result

- The ˪ as ᵛ⇚ does not proceed as it should (Ю or ¯)

V ለ⇚ (onryô; angry ghosts)

- blurred line between ˪ and Ю

- Extraordinary measures to pacify, including sometimes deification.

V What can angry ᵛ⇚/ለ⇚ do?

- very powerful -- can cause epidemic illness, natural catastrophes

- illness/death through possession

V Basic Premises of Buddhism

1) Perception of this world as SAMSARA (constant flow, movement, change). ) Belief in reincarnation. ) Belief in karma (the law of causality, that our actions, good and bad, cause effects).

V Goal of Buddhism

- To break cycle of death and rebirth (achieve Nirvana).

V Why isṉt reincarnation seen as good?

- painful attachments accumulate, grow to be burden

V Problem of Passionate Attachments

- Cause karma and therefore rebirth.

- Rebirth may be as a hungry ghost or in hell.

V Elements of Shamanism in d�²e(Aoi no Ue)

- Structured overtly as an exorcism ritual.

- ͍᥁ (Rokujô) is a malicious/vengeful ghost; they use a Ɣ to identify her and then a ʙ� to pacify her.

V Teruhi (Ɣ)

Courtier I have been ordered to call in Teruhi, a sorceress (shaman), who is known far and wide for her skill in birch (catalpa) bow divination. She is to ascertain by the bow whether the evil spirit is that of a living or dead person. I shall ask her. (p. )

V Incantation to call up angry spirit

Cleansed be Heaven,

Cleansed be Earth,

Cleansed be all within and without,

Cleansed be all Six Roots.

On a horse of dapple-grey,

Swiftly comes a haunting spirit

Tugging at the reins. (p. )

V Kohjiri of Yokawa (ʙ�)

Following the steps of En no Gyoja, he scaled the peak symbolic of the sacred spheres of Taizô and Kongô, brushing away the dew sparkling as Seven Jewels, a robe of meek endurance to shield him from defilements, and fingering his red-wood beads, sarari, sarari, so he chants a prayer. (pp. -100)

V Performance Elements

- 6̀ (kakegoe)

- Q (yorishiro; long stick, call down deity/ghost; aka ᖁtorimono)

- dance (circling and stamping; stage constructed with drums underneath, stamping sounds different depending on area)

- prayer beads (ȸʘjuzu)

- manifestation pine (painted at back)

- bridge

V Use of Mantras (Buddhist spells)

- Recites incantations in pseudo-Sanskrit (Namaku, Samanda, Basarada).

- The vow of µiɨ9 (Fudô Myôô) He who heeds my sermon attains perfect wisdom, he who knows my mind attains the Buddha form.

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