“Mythology comprises five main topics: theogony, which explains the genesis of gods; cosmogony, on the creation of the universe; anthropogony, on the origins of man; escathology, which discusses such issues as the future of humanity, the end of life and the world, immortality of the soul, hell, heaven, the rise from the dead at a certain endpoint and the day of judgement; the fifth is etiology. These are tales that explain the origins of a certain reality, an institution, a name or an object; or the reason of a natural element. They go deep in history and are very widely spread In Anatolia, myths—sometimes called legends—abound that explain how a mountain, a river or a lake was formed or how a living creature came to being. Apart from this, an important branch of mythology is the one that exalts legendary heroes accredited with supernatural powers. Some of these heroes are fictitious; others are real figures that have acquired legendary proportions. Prophet Ali, Alexander the Great, and Hamza, prophet Muhammed’s uncle for example are real people who have become legends. Great epics have been written relating the stories of these heroes, such as the Iskendernâme, Battalnâme, Saltuknâme, Hamzanâme and Danismendnâme.
Mythology has two dimensions, one vertical, the other horizontal. The vertical aspect expresses the dimension of mythology that began in the depths of history and reached all the way to the present, passing through the scriptures of monotheistic religions; whereas the horizontal dimension expresses the spread of mythology, its universality. The vertical dimension is the build-up of a certain belief, layer upon layer, from under the soil of a narrow patch of land to the top.”
— Slides and text for “Brotherhood of Word and Sight”: Yapı Kredi Cultural Activities, Arts & Publishing Can Göknil Exhibition Catalogue, 1-30 November, 2002
It is our goal to study and explore as many as possible themes of myth and legend, as well as the cultural ritual practices that might in some way be connected to, that may have been the origin of the ancient myths and legends of Japan. DNA research has established that there are many lineages of populations within Japan that originated from elsewhere, and migrants bring their stories with them…although these histories and their origins become obscured over the curtains of time. Consequently, this website represents a compendium of resources to allow the study and exploration of those myths and legends and ritual practices found in antiquity, all over the world, that might have found its migratory terminus in the land of Japan.
In a nutshell,the goal of this website is to map the mythologies of Japan and to back-track the trails of their origins outside of Japan.
I’ve just discovered your website. Much interesting information. Thank you!
I have an interest in and affinity with Japan, and am intrigued by depicitions on hanging scrolls.
May I send you some pictures of them to see if you can give more information on what the meaning is? In return, you may use the pictures on your site, if you want.
I am also looking for some background on GONNYO-SHONIN.
Could you tell me more about this figure? Thanks a lot!
Thanks. Check out the following:
OKUNO, kenju 厳如上人御一代記 / Gonnyo Shōnin goichidaiki
“Principal teachings of the true sect of the pure land” http://www.surrenderworks.com/tannisho/principal%20teachings.html
Also Okusa Yejitsu’s work http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/ptpl/ptpl05.htm
And “Rennyo and the roots of modern Japanese Buddhism” http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/164319564
Do you know what snow symbolizes in Japanese art and literature? I have looked every where and cannot find anything despite the fact it is so often used in both.
Yuki onna or onne is the famous winter ghost, Lady of the snow, a type of spirit of death.
In Shinto, snow color ie white, is a sacred color, symbolizes purity, often simulated in garden art by white landscaping gravel.
Kawabata uses snow imagery in his novel as well.
In Buddhism, Kannon of the Land of the Snow, Chen Re Zi or something like that, you can look it up.
Please, please pleas add a search function
I have lately been wondering how to tell apart Japanese art featuring the wolf from the fox. They seem to be fairly distinct mythologically, but as you search around the internet the two seem conflated, especially when it comes to statues and traditional masks.
Yes, wolf and fox legends and myths have become conflated over time. This is so in China, Korea and Iran as well. However, you can trace the many-tailed fox myth to China, wolf legends to Mongolic and Turkic common descent origin myths, but use of fox amulet symbolism is more common with the popularity of Inari deity and the disappearance of the wolf from Japan and from human memory at the beginning of the 20th c.
I’m currently witting a movie based on Japanese Island’s legend and would like to have a chat with you about it. How can I reach out to you (mails/number).
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