Notes on the cock’s role in the underworld and on Jizo’s Central Asian origins

In Japan, Ksitigarbha, known as Jizō, or Ojizō-sama as he is respectfully known, is one of the most loved of all Japanese divinities. His statues are a common sight, especially by roadsides and in graveyards. Traditionally, he is seen as the guardian of children, particularly children who died before their parents. Since the 1980s, he has been worshiped as the guardian of the souls of mizuko, the souls of stillborn, miscarried or aborted fetuses, in the ritual of mizuko kuyō (水子供養, lit. offering to water children). In Japanese mythology, it is said that the souls of children who die before their parents are unable to cross the mythical Sanzu River on their way to the afterlife because they have not had the chance to accumulate enough good deeds and because they have made the parents suffer. It is believed that Jizō saves these souls from having to pile stones eternally on the bank of the river as penance, by hiding them from demons in his robe, and letting them hear mantras.[citation needed]

Jizō statues are sometimes accompanied by a little pile of stones and pebbles, put there by people in the hope that it would shorten the time children have to suffer in the underworld. (The act is derived from the tradition of building stupas as an act of merit-making.) The statues can sometimes be seen wearing tiny children’s clothing or bibs, or with toys, put there by grieving parents to help their lost ones and hoping that Jizō would specially protect them. Sometimes the offerings are put there by parents to thank Jizō for saving their children from a serious illness. Jizō’s features are commonly made more babylike to resemble the children he protects.

As he is seen as the saviour of souls who have to suffer in the underworld, his statues are common in cemeteries. He is also believed to be the protective deity of travelers, and roadside statues of Jizō are a common sight in Japan. Firefighters are also believed to be under the protection of Jizō.

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Ti Tsang is at times depicted accompanied by a dog, which also has a significant meaning. On the death of his mother, the Bodhisattva, not as “Sacred Girl’, hastened into the underworld with the view of comforting her and to seek favorable treatment for her. However, he could not find her but later discovered that she had already taken rebirth as a female dog. Upon his return to earth Ti Tsang soon traced and adopted the animal, which then became his companion on his pilgrimages.

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva is found in many Buddhist homes and temples and he is seen seated upon a lotus throne. Wearing the robe of a Northern Buddhist monk and on his head is the “five-leave crown, where the representation of a Dhyani-Buddha can be seen on each of the leaves. He always has a benevolent and kind look carries either, or both, his symbols of the Cintamani or “Wish-fulfilling Jewel’ and the “Ringed-Staff”, which is also called the Khakkhara. This ringed staff is often carried by Buddhist monks in their travels so that the sounds caused by the jingling rings can warn small animals and insects of their approach lest they be trod upon and killed. It is also sometimes called the alarm-staff.

The Kshitigarbha bodhisattva has a deep relationship with beings of the earth – humans, and especially with the hungry ghosts and hell beings. This is mainly because these ghosts and hell beings are the most difficult to raise into a more fortunate condition due to their previous unwholesome actions. Thus Kshitigarbha has been known as the Teacher of the Dark Regions because of his past vow to save them all. The famous declaration “if I do not go to hell to help them, who else will go?” is popularly attributed to Kshitigarbha. He is willing to have a connection with any being, no matter what the crime or the karma and his aim is to help free them from suffering. He has many emanations and he has manifested in countless forms to save beings at different times and places. In the Chinese Buddhist Pantheon his is the only figure in the form of a monk. This is to indicate that Mahayana Buddhism is suitable for both the monks and the laity.

The Sutra is fundamentally a teaching concerning karma, graphically describing the consequences one creates by committing undesirable actions. This is especially for the benefit of future beings in the Dharma-Ending Age in order to help these beings avoid making the mistakes that will cause them to be reborn in a low condition. With this motivation, the sutra is a discourse given by the Buddha in praise of the Bodhisattva Kshitigarbha and his heroic Vow, and of the benefits one can receive from worshipping Kshitigarbha and by reading the sutra.

The bodhisattva appears in different transformations, depending on which realm he is in. Nevertheless, the most popular depiction of this bodhisattva in Chinese temples is as a monk with or without a five-sided crown. This appearance is quite extraordinary because other bodhisattvas tend to be portrayed as lay people with jewels and ornaments around their bodies and heads. The difference is that Ksitigarbha wants all people to respect the Three Treasures – the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha – and to believe in the law of cause and effect.

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva was different from other bodhisattvas in that he was never an enlightened buddha in any of his previous incarnations. The Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra describes previous existences of the bodhisattva and explains what caused his previous incarnations to vow to carry out the Path of the Bodhisattvas.

In the first incarnation, the young bodhisattva saw a buddha one day, and he was awed by the Buddha’s majestic appearance. His appearance stemmed from his abundant blessings, which in turn originated from his compassion. He asked the buddha how he could obtain such an exalted appearance and temperament, and the buddha replied, “You must help all suffering beings for generations to come.” The young man then vowed to do so.

Presented in the form of a dialogue between the Buddha and Kshitigarbha, the teaching takes place in a certain heaven called Trayastrimsa, where the Buddha went so that he might repay the kindness of his mother who dwelt there by speaking the Dharma on her behalf. Hence, the sutra also deals with filial responsibility – not only that between oneself and one’s parents, but also in an ultimate sense of a universal code of duty or responsibility for all living beings, all of whom a Bodhisattva regards with the same kindness, consideration and respect that one should accord to one’s own parents.

Sakyamuni Buddha entrusted Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva the responsibility of continuing to save people after the Buddha himself passed away. During this period humans and other living beings have no buddha to guide them on the path to enlightenment until the next buddha, Maitreya, who will appear on earth several thousand years from now. Thus Sakyamuni Buddha entrust Ksitigarbha to shoulder the responsibility of relieving people from their worries and guiding them to enlightenment.

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Ti Tsang is at times depicted accompanied by a dog, which also has a significant meaning. On the death of his mother, the Bodhisattva, not as “Sacred Girl’, hastened into the underworld with the view of comforting her and to seek favorable treatment for her. However, he could not find her but later discovered that she had already taken rebirth as a female dog. Upon his return to earth Ti Tsang soon traced and adopted the animal, which then became his companion on his pilgrimages.

http://www.ksitigarbhabodhisattva.com/

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At the pre-Tang Dynasty grottos in Dunhuang and Longmen, he is depicted in classical bodhisattva shape. After the Tang Dynasty, he became increasingly depicted as a monk, carrying rosaries and a staff.

His full name in Chinese script is (simplified Chinese: 大願地藏菩萨; traditional Chinese: 大願地藏菩薩; pinyinDàyuàn Dìzàng Púsà), or the Bodhisattva King Dizang of the Great Vow, pronounced as Dayuan Dizang Pusa in Mandarin Chinese, Daigan Jizō Bosatsu in Japanese, and Jijang Bosal in Korean.

There is a legend about how Ksitigarbha manifested himself in China, and chose his bodhimanda to be Mount Jiuhua, one of the Four Sacred Mountains of China in Buddhism.

In the Eastern Han dynasty, during the reign of Emperor Ming, Buddhism started to flourish, reaching its peak in the era of the Tang Dynasty, eventually spreading to Korea. At the time, monks and scholars arrived from those countries to seek the Dharma in China. One of these pilgrims was a former prince from Silla whose Korean romanization was Kim Kiaokak (Ch: Jin Qiaojue(金喬覺)) and became a monastic under the name of Earth Store (Also called Jijang, the Korean pronunciation of Dizang).[5] He came to the region of Anhui to Mount Jiuhua. After ascending, he decided to build a hut in a deep mountain area so that he may be able to cultivate.

According to records, the monk was bitten by a poisonous snake, but did not move, thus letting the snake go. A woman happened to pass by and gave the monk medicines to cure him of the venom, as well as a spring on her son’s behalf. For a few years, the monk continued to meditate in his hut, until one day, a scholar named Chu-Ke led a group of friends and family to visit the mountain. Noticing the monk meditating in the hut, they went and took a look at his condition. They had noticed that the monk’s bowl did not contain any food, and that his hair had grown back.

Feeling pity on the monk, Scholar Chu decided to build a temple as an offering to the monk. The whole group descended the mountain immediately to discuss plans to build the temple. Mount Jiuhua was also property of a wealthy person named the elder Wen-Ke, who obliged to build a temple on his mountain. Therefore, Wen-Ke and the group ascended the mountain once more and asked the monk how much land he needed.

The monk replied that he needed a piece of land that could be covered fully by his kasaya. Bewildered that a piece of sash could not be enough land to build a temple, the monk surprised them as he threw the kasaya in the air, and the robe expanded in size, covering the entire mountain! Elder Wen-Ke had then decided to renounce the entire mountain to the monk, and became the monk’s protector. Sometime later, Wen-Ke’s son also left the home life to start his life as a monk.

The monk lived in Mount Jiuhua for seventy five years before passing away at the age of ninety-nine. Three years after his nirvana, his tomb was opened, only to reveal that the body had not decayed. Because the monk led his wayplace with much difficulty, most people had the intuition to believe that he was indeed the transformation body of Ksitigarbha.

Monk Jijang’s well-preserved, dehydrated body may still be viewed today at the monastery he built on Mount Jiuhua

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Ksitigarbha (Sanskrit: क्षितिगर्भ Kṣitigarbha) is a bodhisattva primarily revered in East Asian Buddhism, usually depicted as a Buddhist monk in the Orient. The name may be translated as “Earth Treasury”, “Earth Store”, “Earth Matrix”, or “Earth Womb”. Ksitigarbha is known for his vow to take responsibility for the instruction of all beings in the six worlds between the death of Gautama (Sakyamuni) Buddha and the rise of Maitreya Buddha, as well as his vow not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied. He is therefore often regarded as the bodhisattva of hell beings, as well as the guardian of children and patron deity of deceased children and aborted fetuses in Japanese culture. Usually depicted as a monk with a nimbus around his shaved head, he carries a staff to force open the gates of hell and a wish-fulfilling jewel to light up the darkness.

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (Sanskrit)
Jizō Bosatsu (Japanese)
Jizō’s Origins
Although of India origin, Kshitigarbha (Jizō) is revered more widely in Japan, Korea, and China than in either India or Tibet. Most scholars generally consider Jizō-related texts to be products of China rather than India, followed later by Japanese renditions and additions. Jizō’s earliest association is with Prthvi (Prithvi), a Hindu goddess who personifies the earth and is associated with fertility. In the VEDAS, she is celebrated as the mother of all creatures and the consort of the sky. This association with the sky is very important, for many centuries later, in China, Jizō Bodhisattva (lit. Earth Repository) was paired with Kokūzō Bodhisattva(lit. Space Repository), with the two representing the blessings of earth and space respectively. This pairing is now almost entirely forgotten in both China and Japan. But the pairing lends strong support to Jizō’s early association with the Hindu goddess Prthvi. The strongest support for the Prithvi/Jizō link, however, is the Jizō Bosatsu Sūtra (Jp. = 地蔵菩薩本願経), a 7th-century Chinese translation from Sanskrit, in which Prthivi vowsto use all her miraculous powers to protect Jizō devotees.

When and how Jizō was introduced to China is unknown, but from the earliest extant texts (7th century), Jizō is already closely associated with the earth and with the Lord of Death (Skt. = Yama, Chn. = Yanmo Wang 閻魔王, Jp. = Emma-ō). Only later, in China’s late Sung dynasty (960–1279), does Jizō become associated with the Taoist Ten Kings of Helland appear in Chinese artwork surrounded by the ten. In Japan, Jizō first appears in records of the Nara Period (710 to 794 AD), and then spreads throughout Japan via the Tendai and Shingon sects. According to an old legend, the first Jizō statue was brought to Japan from China and installed at Tachibanadera 橘寺 during the reign of Emperor Shōmu 聖武 (reigned 724-49), but was later moved to Hōryūji 法隆寺 Temple in Nara. <see Dykstra, Monumenta Nipponica, Summer 1978 edition>

In Japan, Jizō appears first in the Ten Cakras Sutra in the Nara period (now a treasure held by the Nara National Museum), but the height of Jizō’s early popularity was during the late Heian era (794 to 1192 AD) when the rise of the Jōdo Sect 浄土 (Pure Land Sect devoted to Amida Nyorai) intensified fears about hell in the afterlife (see Age of Mappo). Due to Jizō’s association with the realm of death and suffering souls, Jizō is also closely associated with Amida Nyorai and with Amida’s heavenly western paradise, where true believers may seek enlightenment and avoid the torments of hell. In traditional artwork, Jizō is the only Bodhisattva commonly portrayed as a monk. Although the origins of this iconography are unclear, some scholars believe Jizō’s depiction as a priest stems from a 7th-century Korean monk named Gin Chau Jue who resided for 75 years at Chiu-hua-shan in China (present day Anhui Province) and who was considered an incarnation of Jizō. When the monk died in 728 (at the age of 99), legend contents that his body did not decay, and was subsequently gilded over and venerated as an emanation of Jizō. < Source. Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms by Soothill & Hodous, ISBN 8121511453. >

The Jizō cult in Japan incorporates many of the traditional characteristics of Jizō veneration in China, but the Japanese developed their own distinct variants from the Kamakura period onward, including (1) Jizō’s close association with the Lotus Sutra; (2) Jizō serving the same functions and roles as Kannon Bodhisattva; (3) Jizō’s very close association with Amida Nyorai and the Pure Land sect; (4) Jizō and theSix Realms and the Ten Kings; (5) Jizō as having the same body as Emma-ō, the King of Hell; (6) Jizō’s association with warriors; (7) Jizō appearing as a young child or boy and; (8) many other forms of Jizōunique to Japan. Since the Kamakura period, Jizō worship has attained a tremendous following in Japan, and today Jizō remains one of Japan’s most revered deities.
Origin = India / China. Savior from Hell’s Torments.
Master of Six Realms of Desire & Karmic Rebirth (Reincarnation).
Patron of Children, Expectant Mothers, Firemen, Travelers, Pilgrims, Aborted / Miscarried Babies. Also guardian of children in limbo.
Affectionately known in Japan as O-Jizō-Sama お地蔵様 or Jizō-san.

One of the most beloved of all Japanese divinities, Jizō works to ease the suffering and shorten the sentence of those serving time in hell, to deliver the faithful into Amida’s western paradise (where inhabitants are no longer trapped in the six states of desire and karmic rebirth), and to answer the prayers of the living for health, success, children, and all manner of petitions. In modern Japan, Jizō is a savior par excellence, a friend to all, never frightening even to children, and his/her many manifestations — often cute and cartoon-like in contemporary times — incorporate Taoist, Buddhist, and Shintō elements.

Jizō is a Bodhisattva (Jp. Bosatsu), one who achieves enlightenment but postpones Buddhahood until all can be saved. Jizō is often translated as Womb of the Earth, for JI 地 means earth, while ZŌ 蔵 means womb. But ZŌ can also be translated with equal correctness as “store house” or “repository of treasure” — thus Jizō is often translated as Earth Store or Earth Treasury. Jizō embodies supreme spiritual optimism, compassion, and universal salvation, all hallmarks of Mahayana Buddhism.

Jizo Legends

Once upon a time, there lived and old man and his wife. At the end of the year, the old man went to sell braided hats since they had no food to celebrate New Year.

Unfortunately, the old man could not sell a single hat. On this way home, he found six Jizo that had been snowed. He covered the heads of the Jizo with the hats he carried and as he had only five hats, he gave to the last Jizo the hat was wearing.

When he returned home, he told his wife that he failed to sell a single hat and instead, had put them on the heads of six Jizo. The old woman approved him and said: “You did a good thing.”

At night, while they were sleeping, they heard heavy thuds outside the house. They went out and saw that six Jizo wearing braided hats were leaving after putting a lot of rice and food at the doorstep. Thanks to the food brought by the six Jizo, the old man and his wife had a happy New Year.

SAI NO KAWARA MYTHOLOGY — LIMBO FOR CHILDREN
The Role of Jizo Bosatsu in Saving Lost SoulsBUDDHIST MYTHOLOGY. In Japan, Jizō Bosatsu first appears in the Ten Cakras Sutra 大方広十輪経 in the Nara Era (710 to 794 AD). That sutra is now a treasure held by the Nara National Museum. In China, Jizō worship can be traced back to at least the fifth century AD (to the Chinese translation of the Ten Cakras Sutra), which portrays Jizō as the guardian of souls in hell. Chinese artwork thereafter often shows Jizō surrounded by the ten kings/judges of hell to signify Jizō’s primary role in delivering people from the torments of hell.In Japan, the height of Jizō’s early popularity was during the late Heian Era (794 to 1192 AD) when the rise of the Jōdo (Jodo) 浄土宗 (Pure Land Sect devoted to Amida Nyorai) intensified fears about hell in the afterlife and kindled belief in redemption and salvation through Amida Nyorai.

The Japanese believed the third and final period — the Age of Mappō (Decline of the Law) — had begun in 1052 AD. The ensuing decades, moreover, were marked by civil wars, famine, and pestilence. A sense of foreboding thus filled the land, and people from all classes yearned for a gospel of salvation.

Gaki-zoshi (Scroll of the Hungry Ghosts), Late 12th Century; photo courtesy www.arthistory-archaeology.umd.edu/resources/modules/monsters/sld021.htm
Gaki-zoshi
Scroll of the Hungry Ghosts
Late 12th CenturyTo learn about such scrolls,
please see this Kyoto
National Museum page

spacerThese fears gave rise to numerous tales and paintings depicting the torments and demons of hell. Perhaps one of the most popular books of the period, one that sparked vivid paintings of hell and hell beings, was “Essentials of Salvation” (Jp. = Ōjō Yōshū or Ojo Yoshu 徃生要集), written by the Tendai monk Genshin 源信 (942 – 1017 AD). The book itself focuses on the three main sutras of the Pure Land tradition, and is famous for its descriptions of hell and samsara (the cycle of suffering and rebirth). Even today, there are those who believe the current stage of human history is within the third phase, the Age of Mappō, the age when Buddhist faith deteriorates, is abandoned, and finally disappears.

Due to Jizō’s association with the realm of death and suffering souls (hell), Jizō worship became intimately associated withAmida worship, the Pure Land sect, and belief in Amida’s Western Paradise (and life in the beyond, in the afterlife). But faith in Amida and Jizō remain largely confined to a small segment of the Japanese population until the Kamakura Era (1185-1333 AD), when both are popularized by new Buddhist sects devoted to ordinary people — the Pure Land Sects of Honen Shonin (1133 – 1212 AD) and his disciple Shinran (1173 – 1262 AD). Both sects were committed to bringing Buddhism to the illiterate commoner; both expressed concern for the salvation of ordinary people, stressing pure and simple faith over complicated rites and doctrines. Their leaders taught that anyone could attain salvation by faithfully reciting the name ofAmida Buddha. The Nichiren Sect, however, which also came to prominence among common folk during the Kamakura Era, rejects the “quick path” to salvation represented by Amida faith. The Nichiren Sect therefore does not revere Amida or Jizō.<Editor’s Note: For reasons unknown to me, and surprisingly, the Jōdo Shinshu (New Jōdo Sect devoted to Amida) does not revere Jizō Bosatsu. This must be researched more fully.>

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Hokkaido, Okushiri, Sai-no-Kawara SitespacerSAI NO KAWARA LEGEND
WHY ALL THE STONES?
The legend of Sai no Kawara is attributed to the Jōdo Pure Land Sect from around the 14th or 15th century AD. According to the legend, children who die prematurely are sent to the underworld as punishment for causing great sorrow to their parents. They are sent to Sai no Kawara, the riverbed of souls in purgatory, where they pray for salvation by building small stone towers, piling pebble upon pebble, in the hopes of climbing out of limbo into paradise. But hell demons, answering to the command of the old hag Shozuka no Baba (also called Datsueba, or Jigoku no Baba), soon arrive and scatter their stones and beat them with iron clubs. But no need to worry, for Jizō comes to the rescue.

According to the Flammarion Iconographic Guide to Buddhism: “In Japan, popular belief holds that a hideous creature by the name ofShozuka-no-Baba strips children of their clothing, then encourages them to make piles of stones to build a stairway to paradise. Jizō consoles the afflicted children and, to save them, hides them in the wide sleeves of his robe. The Japanese in the countryside often attach small pieces of children’s clothing to Jizō statues, believing that Jizō can thus clothe the children in his protection.” <end Flammarion quote> 

Even today, Jizō statues in some places in Japan are covered — sometimes from top to bottom — in pebbles placed there by sorrowing parents, who believe that every stone tower they build on earth will help the soul of their dead child in performing his/her penance. Also, you will often find statues of Jizō Bosatsu decked in red caps or bibs. For more on this “red” tradition, please see The Color Red in Japanese Mythology.

JIZŌ AND THE SIX REALMS
CHILDREN IN LIMBO MUST UNDERGO JUDGEMENT
Below text adapted from writings of 
Kondo Takahiro.

Jizō Bosatsu vowed to save or relieve the suffering of all souls in each of the Six Realms of Existence(reincarnation), in particular those in hell, and is thus often shown in groupings of six in Japan. Such groupings are called Roku Jizō 六地蔵 — literally the “Six Jizō.” Each of the six Jizō is assigned to one of the six realms (aka the Six Paths of Transmigration or Reincarnation, the Wheel of Life, the Cycle of Suffering), to save souls wandering in each specific realm. The six realms start with the lowest three states, called the three evil paths. They are the states of (1) people in hell, (2) hungry ghosts, and (3) animals. Above these are the states of (4) Asuras, (5) Humans, and (6) Devas. All six realms are stages of suffering, even the heavenly realm of the Deva, who it is said suffer from pride. There is a corresponding group known as the Six Kannon, one each for the six realms, which may have pre-dated the Six Jizō.

Jizō Bosatsu guards not only adult souls — Jizō also guards the souls of children, particularly those of stillborn and aborted children, or of children who died early in life. These children, even if innocent, must still pass through the netherworld and undergo judgment by the Jūō (Juo) 十王 = Ten Kings of Hell

The first judge is Shinko-o. The dead who are found innocent can walk atop a bridge to cross the River Sanzu (River of Three Crossings | 三途の川  |  さんずのかわ  |  the River Styx in Western myth), which lies between the first and second Judges of Hell (between the kings Shinko-o and Shoko-o). In most accounts, Jizo Bosatsu guides the innocent children across the bridge. The guilty, however, must swim across deep water and the less guilty must ford a rapid stream. In other accounts, Jizo helps the children wade the river safely. The story goes like this. When the souls of the deceased young children attempt to swim across the River Sanzu, they are overcome, for the river is too long or flowing too fast to cross. So instead, they build stone towers, pebble by pebble, as penance and prayer to receive salvation. But to no avail. For demons appear out of nowhere and destroy their stone towers — thereby destroying any hope of crossing the river. However, if living parents and relatives have faith in Jizo Bosatsu, Jizo will come to their aid, and help their lost children wade the river safely, avoiding the terrible fury of the demons. Jizo statues, moreover, typically hold the shakujo — a six-ringed staff — a staff that is used by Jizo to fathom the river, and a staff that signifies Jizo’s protection for all trapped in the six realms. In some traditions, Jizo shakes the staff to awaken us from our delusions.

Even today, this folklore about hell prompts many Japanese parents into action. They imagine their little babies lingering at the riverbed, unable to cross the river, unable to gain salvation. Japanese parents therefore feel a great need to do something to alleviate their child’s suffering, to do something to improve the child’s chance of redemption. Thus the great cult of Jizo Bosatsu in Japan. Everywhere, throughout the country, at roadsides, in graveyards, in temples, at busy intersections, one can find little Jizo statues clothed in small bibs, adorned with toys, wearing tiny hats, protected by scarfs, and piled high with tiny stones offered by sorrowing parents. Parents cloth the Jizo statues in hopes that Jizo will clothe the dead child in his protection. Small pebbles are piled around the Jizo statue as well, offered by sorrowing parents as a prayer to Jizo to help the suffering soul of their deceased child.Some temples, without doubt, take advantage of this folklore. They say to the traumatized parents: “Your lost child will continue to suffer. Your lost child will never be saved unless you take action to soothe their troubled souls. You must buy statuettes and offer religious services to alliviate their suffering.” In Japan, this Buddhist tendency toward mercy and prolonged mourning means that many grieving parents buy expensive statuettes and pay exorbitant fees for memorial services — the temples thus prosper from such patronage.<end text adapted from writings of Kondo Takahiro
立山曼荼羅の解説 富山県[立山博物館]
www2.ocn.ne.jp/~tomoya1/sub2.html
Japanese Site. Tremendously interesting images of the
Tateyama Mandara, with numerous images of beings from hell.
The above and below photo came from this site
MT. HAKUSAN (The White Mountain; 2,702 meters) 
Since 717 AD, when Buddhist Priest Taicho founded the Mt. Hakusan retreat, Mt. Hakusan has been known as a religious mountain with a small secluded shrine on the top. Hakusan is one of the Nihon Sanmeizan, or Japan’s three most sacred mountains (along with Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tateyama). The mountain is celebrated in the Man’youshu, which was compiled in the eight century. The cult of mountain asceticism developed rapidly in the Heian period and the mountain’s Shugendō sect was a form of Shinto/ Buddhist syncretism. The three Shinto deities Izanagi no Mikoto, Izanami no Mikoto, and Kukurihime no Kami are connected with Mt. Hakusan. Kukuri is the goddess who arbitrated between Izanagi and Izanami and is the Dragon Goddess of Hakusan. On the mountaintop also live Shoichi Hakusanmyori Daibosatsu (Bodhisattva) — said to be the Buddhist incarnation of the 11-Headed Kannon (Juichimen Kannon) — and Betsuzan Daigyoji, said to be the embodiment of the Shō Kannon (the “pure” manifestation of the Kannon Bosatsu in Japan).
Hakusan Gongen is the Shinto kami of Mt. Hakusan, once a great Shugendo center. Hakusan Gongen

is an avatar of the Eleven-Headed Kannon, and also a representation of the Shinto kami Izanami

The Shinto goddess Koyasu-sama is also revered as a goddess who grants easy childbirth. But after Buddhism gained a strong foothold in Japan, Koyasu-sama was supplanted by her Buddhist equivalents, known as Koyasu Kishibojin, Koyasu Kannon, and Koyasu Jizo. For more, please see Guardians of Children. More than one thousand Sengen Shrines exist across Japan, with the head shrines standing at the foot and the summit of Mount Fuji itself. More on Asama Shrine here (Japanese site)

See photo of Sainokawara, at the Zao Temple (Wikipedia)

  • Sai no Kawara Mythology — Children’s Limbo in Japan.Explores Japanese Buddhist mythology regarding the sandy beach called Sai no Kawara (Sainokawara), a riverbed in the netherworld where the souls of departed children do penance; reviews the savior role played by Jizō Bosatsu. Answers various questions, e.g., Why are stones piled around Jizō statues? Why are Jizō statues often found together in groupings of six? Why are Jizō statues garbed in red caps and bibs?  Details here.
  • Sai no Kawara (Sainokawara) — Hymn to Jizo. The Legend of the Humming of the Sai-no-Kawara. A translation by Lafcadio Hearn of the Jizō hymn sung at Sai-no-Kawara rites. This hymn is about 300 years old.  Details here.
  • Judges of Hell, Ten Kings of Hell, Demons of Hell. Describes the ten judges of hell, who review the behavior of the deceased while s/he was still living, and then send the departed soul back into one of six states of transmigration (reincarnation); introduces the demons who inhabit the lower regions, including the old hag Datsueba (literally “old woman who robs clothes”).  Details here.
  • List of Sai no Kawara Locations in Japan. A partial list of Japanese locations where Sai-no-Kawara rites are still performed, along with brief details on female shamans (called Itako) who help grieving parents contact their departed children in the neitherworld.  Details here.
  • Weddings for the Dead (Sai no Kawara).  Details here.

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Jizo Wood Carvinig - Available for Online Purchase at Buddhist-Artwork.comModern Wood Carving
Available for Online PurchaseSitting Jizo (Ksitegarbha) Bosatsu in Japan, Kamakura Era, Treasure of Jufuku-ji
Jizo, Kamakura Era
Jufuku-ji Temple. Now kept at
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu
National Museum in Kamakura

The cock has a key role in the myths surrounding the Amaterasu goddess…and is also closely associated with the shrine gate torii tradition:

“The vermilion-colored O-torii Gate, which is known as a symbol of Itsukushima Shrine, marks the border between a sacred place and the secular quarter.
One of the theories about the origin of the torii is as follows. When the Goddess Amaterasu hid herself in the heavenly cave (ama no iwato), the world was shrouded in darkness. The other spirits arranged for the “eternal long crowing birds” (cockerels) to roost and crow, and then Amaterasu came out of the cave and the world regained the light. Since then people made roosts for cockers in front of shrines and that may have been the origin of the torii.” — Shinto and Buddhism

Roosters are considered sacred symbols in Japan, and are permitted to run free amongst the Shinto temples. This is partially due to the Rooster calling Shinto followers to prayer with its morning crow at dawn.

The rooster in Kojiki:

Susano-o, the younger brother of Amaterasu, the sun goddess, went to her home in Takamagahara. Once he got there, after promising to behave himself, he started breaking down the banks and filling in the ditches of the rice paddies, and scattered shit around the hall for the harvest ceremony. Amaterasu excused him, saying that he was drunk, and maybe trying to enlarge the paddies. However, he then made a big hole in the roof of the hall where the sacred clothes for the kami were woven, and threw in a horse that had been half-skinned backwards. This surprised the weaving woman so much that she stabbed herself in the vagina with the shuttle, and died.

At this, Amaterasu lost her temper, and went to hide in the Ame no Iwayato, a cave. When she did so, both Takamagahara and this world were plunged into darkness, a lot of kami made trouble, and everyone was at a loss as to what to do. All the kami gathered on the banks of the Amenoyasu river, and asked Omoikane what they should do. He told them to find a cockerel and make it crow, then get iron from Amakana Mountain, make a curved jewel and a mirror, and hang them all from a sakaki tree outside the cave. Amenotajikarao, a strong kami, hid beside the cave’s entrance. Then Amenokoyane and Futodama used a deer’s shoulder blade to divine the will of the kami, and the ceremony began.

Amenouzume danced outside the cave, becoming possessed by the kami, so that she opened her clothes, exposing her breasts and vagina, and all the kami laughed and cheered. Hearing this, Amaterasu became very confused.

“I’m hiding in this cave, so it must be really dark out there. How come everyone’s having so much fun?” she asked.

“An even greater kami than you has come,” Amenouzume replied, “so we are having a party to welcome her.”

Amaterasu wasn’t sure whether she believed that, so she pushed the rock at the cave’s mouth open a little. When she did so, Amenokoyane and Futodama pushed the mirror forwards, so that Amaterasu saw her reflection. Thinking it was another, greater, kami, Amaterasu couldn’t resist coming a little further out. As soon as she did so, Amenotajikarao grabbed her and pulled her out the rest of the way, and in that moment Futodama slipped in behind her and put a rope across the entrance to the cave, telling Amaterasu that she couldn’t go back in now, because the way was blocked. And so light was returned to the world.

As central myths go, this has some odd elements. For example, lying to the kami of the sun is a central part of restoring the order of the universe, and the kami of the sun can’t tell the difference between her own reflection and another kami. However, there are a couple of points that, taken literally, make no sense at all. First, Amenokoyane and Futodama perform divination to learn the will of the kami. This is a bit peculiar, as all the kami are right there, at the council, and they could just ask them. Second, Amenouzume is possessed by the kami when she dances. Which kami, exactly? Wouldn’t it rather be Amenouzume who did the possessing? These elements suggest that this scene is actually a description of a Shinto ritual, moved to Takamagahara, and that is how it is usually interpreted. It’s also how Professor Sasao interpreted it, so now we can get back to the content of the lecture.

Archaeology can tell us something about the rituals and social background at various periods in history, and thus help us to place the origins of the story. So, what does it have to say about this legend?

First, paddy fields separated by banks and supplied with water by ditches were found all across Japan by the late Yayoi period, about two thousand years ago, so Susano-o’s actions make sense in that context. Such damage would have caused serious disruption to agriculture. As for his desecrations, shit is always available, but horses only came to Japan in the 5th century AD, so that part of the story cannot date any further back than that. What’s more, miniature looms have been excavated from ritual sites dating from the 5th century in Shizuoka prefecture, and are still found in sites dating from the 7th century elsewhere in the country.

The inclusion of a cockerel in the story also relates to archaeological discoveries. Burial mounds from the 4th century on sometimes have clay models of cockerels set around them, among other things, which suggests that cockerels were a part of rituals by that point. On the other hand, if we go back a hundred years or so, we find that cranes are depicted instead, which tends to date the legend to the period after the 4th century.

Next, let us look at the items gathered for the ceremony. First, the kami are told to gather iron. Iron implements are found in 5th century ritual sites in Ehime Prefecture (on Shikoku) and in Chiba Prefecture (just east of Tokyo), along with iron ingots. In the 5th century, iron was not mined and refined in Japan; rather, ingots were imported from Korea, and made into tools and weapons in Japan, which is why the ingots are also important. Curved beads are also a common find in 5th century ritual sites, again from all over Japan. Mirrors go back a bit further, becoming important in the 3rd century, when they were made in China, although they were, later, made in Japan, following Chinese models. In the 5th century there was a vogue for making mirrors modelled after Chinese mirrors from the 3rd century, and they were commonly included in grave goods in the burial mounds. Thus, the ritual significance of mirrors in this period is also clear. Finally, the mirrors, including stone mock-mirrors, and curved jewels recovered from sites of this period very often have small holes drilled through them, so that they could be hung from something. It seems very likely that they were hung from trees, although I don’t think there’s any direct evidence of that.

If we now turn to the divination, this was performed using the shoulder-bones of deer. The excavated evidence of this form of divination suggests that holes were burned through the bones with hot needles, and the resulting cracks analysed. The dates are significant here, because divination using deer bones seems to have started in around the 2nd century BC, and continued until the 5th century AD. From the 6th century, divination shifted to using turtle shells, or cow bones if there were no turtle shells available.

Amenouzume’s naked dance is also supported by archaeological evidence. The clay figures from burial mounds of the 5th and 6th centuries include naked dancing figures, both male and female.

Putting all the evidence together, the conclusion is clear. This legend describes a 5th century ritual. The horse could not have been involved any earlier, deer-bone divination would not have been used any later, and all the other elements correspond to items found in 5th century ritual sites. The 5th century is also the period in which the unification of Japan got seriously underway, and the first period in which there is conclusive evidence for the use of writing by people who understood it. Thus, the 5th century also seems to have been the period of a very significant change in ritual practice, because when people came to record a ritual 250 years later, it was a ritual from that period that they described.

Now we go back to my editorialising. It is very hard to say when Shinto started, because there is no clear foundation event. However, we can say that there is a point at which it becomes useful to talk about the religious practices as “Shinto”, and start looking at the changes in Shinto, rather than at the practices that preceded it. I think that point is the 5th century, and I thought that before I heard this lecture and thus knew about the connection of the Kojiki myth to that period. There is also good evidence at Omiwa Shrine and Munakata Shrine that rituals that show strong continuity with contemporary Shinto started around the 5th century.

Of course, there have been significant changes. Deer bone divination had vanished by the sixth century, and naked dancing is no longer a prominent part of the overwhelming majority of Shinto rituals. (Shinto being Shinto, however, I’m sure it still happens somewhere, although it is quite likely to be a secret ceremony.) More subtly, although mirrors and sakaki are still important parts of Shinto ritual, mirrors are not usually offered to the kami, and offerings are not normally hung from sakaki branches Source: Shinto Texts Course – The Kojiki and the Archaeology http://www.davidchart.com/Blog/2011/04/20/shinto-texts-course-%E2%80%94-the-kojiki-and-archaeology/

When Amaterasu hid herself in the heavenly cave (ama no iwato) the other spirits arranged for the “eternal long crowing birds” (cockerels) to crow, which is one of the ways in which Amaterasu was convinced that dawn had arrived without her (that there was “another goddess as beautiful” as her). When she opened the door to the cave a little she was shown a mirror (which she presumably took for another god, but later she refers to it as herself, or her avatar on earth). Ceasing this opportunity, Amaterasu was dragged out of the cave to the relief of the assembled spirits. The place where the cockers perched may have been the origin of the torii. The use of cockerels crowing to fool supernatural things into thinking it is dawn is a theme common to other Japanese traditions.

Whether or not the torii relates to the above incident in the myth or not, since the characters used to represent torii are those of “a bird” and “to be,” many interpret torii to mean a place where it is easy for birds to be and there is considerable evidence that torii have something to do with birds.

On at least two occasions in the Japanese creation (Kojiki) myth birds are messengers between the spirits and humans. In one episode a bird or bird-woman is sent by Amaterasu from heaven to Japan as a messenger. She ends up being shot through the heart with an arrow. In another, when the proto-samurai, warrior hero, Yamatotakeru dies his spirit is taken to heaven by doves. The function of birds as emissaries between spirits and humans suggests it is appropriate that they should “be” at the boundary between the sacred world of the shrine and the
profane world outside.

There is further evidence in that there are drawings in ancient Japanese tombs showing birds perched on torii-like structures, and there are wooden bird shaped items that were found at the ancient Oosaka prefectural government offices (Oosaka Fu) and at the top of and surrounding ancient tombs in Nara.

The Aka tribe of Northern Thailand have a tradition of erecting gates resembling Torii at the entrance to their villages, upon the lintels of which are placed wooden effigies of birds. The birds are said to watch out to prevent the entrance of evil spirits into the village. Source: http://www.nihonbunka.com/shinto/blog/archives/000051.html

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Tori no Ichi -(Source: A Rooster, Rakes and a Shinto Festival Make Good Luck)

If you are in Shinjuku during Novemeber you might just be lucky enough to check out the Shinto Festival Tori no Ichi.

This fair is held on the day of the Rooster (tori) according to the Chinese Calendar.

Because this day is celebrated every 12 days in November, the festival may actually be on up to three times that month. The down side is that the dates are slightly different each year, so make sure you check with the locals in advance.

Basically it is an open air market. Crowds of people flock (pun intended) to the Tori no Ichi fair to buy Kumade. These are small decorated rakes that are thought to bring good luck and good fortune (naturally) to your household or business.

As with many Japanese festivals or fairs the atmosphere is lively and loud.

Leave Hanazono Jinja and discover more about Shinjuku, Japan.

Another page on the Cock Fair Hanazono Jinja, but expounds on the difference between the eagle origins and the cock taboo and cock fair  http://data.lullar.com/%E9%85%89%E3%81%AE%E5%B8%82

On behalf of, the first time and moved to the success of Cock Fair Buddha was enshrined in長国寺Washinosu Myoken of Asakusa, the busiest in the present as the Cock Fair. Cock Fair was a major factor in Asakusa is also proud of his success before the next Shin Yoshiwara大明神east of Asakusa and eagle. Cock Fair came to be held down as in many parts of the Edo era, and now began to be held in many temples in the Kanto region.

Cock Fair and in this way, according to migrate to the city of Edo, Naka-lined suburban rural agricultural crops and agricultural tools for practical use in the fall, an urban city and a lucky charm and filled with auspicious ornaments rake in招福’ve been to a festival in transition.

The Cock and Kannamesai

Kannamesai (Source: The Encyclopedia of Shinto)

From the mid-1860s Mikannagi Kiyonao  was the first to raise the issue of reviving the forgotten liturgy of the autumnal firstfruits rite of kannamesai, and published two works, entitled Nikū yuki sonae no benshō (Demonstration of the Historical Origins of the Ritual Objects of Ceremonies of the Inner and Outer Shrines at Ise) and Kannamesai gyoyū kōjitsu (Truth Behind Theories of the kannamesai), that sought to investigate the historical origins of ancient ritual practices. Shinto priest (shinshoku) and scholar of National Learning (kokugaku) from the late Tokugawa period to the Meiji era. In this period, Mikannagi successfully revived ancient rites and ceremonies associated with the ritual reconstruction of the shrine buildings through plans presented in his work Yamaguchisai kanmon(Yamaguchi Festival Proposals), and he also served in the sacred office of keimei shoyaku, or Overseer of the Place of the Crowing Rooster, in which capacity he took part in the secret ritual erection of the shin no mihashira, the sacred and symbolic central post of the sanctuary, as well as the sengyo ceremony, in which the symbol of the shrine kami is transferred to its newly constructed sanctuary.

See a photo of a white cockerel strutting inside the Naiku, Ise shrine at the Sacred Destinations website.

More resources:

On behalf of, the first time and moved to the success of Cock Fair, Buddha was enshrined in 長国寺Washinosu Myoken of Asakusa, the busiest in the present as the Cock Fair. Cock Fair was a major factor in Asakusa is also proud of his success before the next Shin Yoshiwara大明神east of Asakusa and eagle. Cock Fair came to be held down as in many parts of the Edo era, and now began to be held in many temples in the Kanto region.

Cock Fair and in this way, according to migrate to the city of Edo, Naka-lined suburban rural agricultural crops and agricultural tools for practical use in the fall, an urban city and a lucky charm and filled with auspicious ornaments rake in招福’ve been to a festival in transition.

Shinto and Its Festivals by Denny Sargent

Cockerel traditions elsewhere

http://www.psychicsophia.com/aion/contents.html

Hmong

The Hmong view death as a natural part of the life cycle. All Hmong are given a mandate upon birth that determines the length of their life. When their mandate is up, the soul must leave its body to reside with its ancestors.When a Hmong dies, the entire family comes to the home to pay their respects. Traditionally, the Hmong prefer to die in their own home and hold the funeral there among family and friends. Due to restrictions in the West, the Hmong must store the body and hold the service in a funeral home.

A typical Hmong funeral lasts three days. The funeral is the most important part of Hmong culture and must be done properly to ensure a prosperous afterlife for the deceased. Family members prepare the body for burial and adorn it with objects to protect its soul from evil spirits as it journeys to the other world. They provide the soul with food, wine, clothing and money. The Hmong will also sacrifice a rooster to accompany the soul on its journey. Musicians play a pipe and set of drums to guide the soul in the direction of its ancestors.

The Hmong will perform a ceremony a year following the death to invite the soul back for a final feast. An animal is traditionally sacrificed at this service to ensure that the soul makes its final ascent to its ancestors. Rooster – A rooster is often used in the Hmong culture. A shaman uses a rooster when he journeys to the unknown. It is said that the rooster shields the shaman from wandering “evil” spirits by making him invisible; thus, the evil spirits only see a worthless rooster’s spirit. Source: Religious Funeral Ceremonies

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At the centre of the WHEEL OF LIFE – Tibetan Tanka (Thangkas) one finds three animals — a pig, a snake and a rooster. The pig symbolizes greed (Skt. = lobha), the snake anger and hatred (Skt. = dosa) and the rooster (or cock) ignorance or delusion (Skt. = moha). The three animals are often shown biting each others tails, to show that these evils are inseparably connected. The emotions of the three stem from fundamental ignorance. Together, the triad represents the root causes of trouble on earth. Tantric Buddhism (Vajrayana Buddhism) is practiced most widely today in Tibet. The Buddhist wheel of life, often the subject of the Tibetan Thanka (also spelled thangka), is one of the most common artistic representations of the Six States of Existence.

Three animals -- pig, snake, rooster -- are typically at center of Tibetan Wheel of Life

Three animals at the centre of the Wheel of Life painting

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The cock (Gallus domesticus) is, in origin, an Indian bird, its immediate ancestors being the Bankiva cock of India--a stock with which it freely interbreeds. From India the cock seems to have passed first to Persia, whence it was carried to Greece, and so, by regular trade-routes, to Sicily nad iTaly, ultimately teaching, in ways not precisely known, the remaining portions of Europe; while in the East, in analogous fashion, it came to Java, Further India, China, the Phillipines, etc. On the other hand, the bird is not represented on Egyptian monuments, and it appears in Babylonian art only in the late Persian period.
Prostestant exegetes deny with practical uniamity that the cock is mentioned in the OT; but Jerome.....
Three characteristics of the cock would very first attract attention, viz. its shrill crow at dawn, its pugnacity, and its salacity, but the importance of the first trait first named has so completely overshadowed the other two in the folkmind that only scanty traces of them have survived in popular lore.
The cock is then, above all else the herald of the dawn; and, since the night is par excellence the time for all manner of demons, his proclamation of the rising sun, which puts the fiends to flight, given him his prime significance as an apotropeic being-- a belief well summarized in Horatio's words:
'The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day; and, at his warning
Whether in sea or fire; in earth or air,
The extravagant and erring spirit
To his confine '(Shakespeare, Hamlet, -- a concept which almost seems an echo of the lines of Prudentius (Hymnus ad galli cantum,
10-13):
'Ferunt vagrantes...
It was among the Iranians that the apotropeic aspect of the cock was most emphasized. This is earliest set forth in Vendiddad xviii 14 ff., where, in reply to Zarathustra's question as to who is the 'beadle' (sraosavareza) of Szraosa, Ahura Mazda replies that
'It is the bird named the "cock" (foreseer of dawn") whose ill-speaking men call the "cock-a-doodle-do" "crower" then that bird lifteth up his voice at the mighty dawn (saying):

“Arise, O men, land Best Rightesousness,
condemn the demons;
unto you doth hurtle this
long-pawed (demon of Sloth);
she putteth to sleep straightway,
at the wakening of light,
all the material world.”
In like manner the Pahlavi Bundahita, xix.33 declares that ‘the cock is created in opposition to demons and wizards. cooperating with the dog; as it says in revelation, that , of this creatures of the world, those which are co-operating with Sraosa is destroying the fiends, are the cock and the dog.
According to the Persian historian Mirkhond.

Accoridng ot the Skr. the cock teaches four things: early rising, fighting, generosity to dependents and ooltion??
The name of the cock is hesitatingly compared with … ward off, protect or shining…Among the Arabs it is believed that the cock crows when he becomes aware of the presence of jinn.
It is said that no demon can enter a house in which there is a cock, and above all, should this bird come to the residence of a demon, and move his tongue to chaunt the praises of the glorous and exalted Creator, that instant the evil spirit takes to flight.
So potnet indeed is the crow of the cock in driving away demons that a crowing hen should not be killed for she may perhaps be helping the cock in his pious task.– an idea that states in such a contingency that at such a time another cock should be brought to the house, besides forbidding the killing of a cock because he crows unseasonably, since he may be frightening away a demon who has come at an unusual time. The refernece to the killing of crowing hens is interesting in view of the widespread fear of such creatures as unatural, and therefore uncanny and dangerous– a belief still expressed is such familiar proverbs as
‘Whistling girls and crowing hens
Never come to any good ends.’
The concept of the cock as an apotropeic bird was adopted fro mPersia by Talmudic Judaism.

as in the benediction enjoined by Berakhoth, 603 when the cock is heard to crow: ‘Praised be Thou, O God, Lord of the world, that gaves understanding to the cock to distinguish between day and night, or when the Zohar says that in the hour of grace (about midnight)when God visits paradise to confer with the souls of the pious, a fire proceeds from this holy place and touches the wings of the cock, who then breaks out into priase to God, at the same time calling out ot men to praise the Lrod and do His service’ (Ginzberg, in JE iv. 139)
In Armenia, so profoundly influenced by Iran the cock is also an apotropoeic bird, who by his crow frigntens away demons of disease.
He sees the guardian angels rise to heaven when men sleep and come to earth again towards dawn, when he greets them with his crow; and he can also perceive evil spirits.

Accroding to another tradition , towards dawn the cock of heaven first crows, the angelic choirs begin their hymns of praise. These are heard by the cock on earth who then awaken smanking, and himself ? lauds the Creator (Abeghian, Armen. Volksglaube, Leipsig, 1899, p. 38)
Among the Germanic peoples …among the pagan Lithuanians, a house was belssed, the first creature to enter it was a cock which was henceforth cherished instead of being killed for food, although not considered divine– a belief which may underlie the German prohibition against eating the house-cock (Grimm). If a cock thus introduced into a Lithuanian house crowed during the night, it was a good omen otherwise the building was abandoned, in the belief htat an evil spirit had taken possession of it.
The apotropoeic functions of the cock also come to the front in charms. in Scotland a popular cure for epilepsy is to bury a cock under the patient’s bed.
The cock may however according to one Jewish superstition, himself be entered by demons, and he should accordingly bekilled if he upsets a dish.

In his apotropoeic aspect the cock may also be used as a scape-animal. From the period of the Geonim a cock (a hen for a woman) has been the normal kapparah (means of atonement) offered by each Jew on the day before the Day of Atonement.
The cock after recitation of Ps 107 and Job the fowl is swung around the head three times while the right hand is put upon the animal’s head. At the same time the following is said,
“This cock or hen shall meet death, but I shall find a long and pleasant life of peace.

After this the animal is slaughtered and given to the poor, or what is deemd better, is eaten by the owners while the value of it is given to the poor.”
A particularly interesting modern instance of the scape-cok is found in a Russian purification – ceremony for the driving out of death. This is described as follows in his synopsis of Anitschkoff’s Russian Ritual Spring-Song in the West and among the Slavs
The Hellenic religion preserved many traces of the apotropoeic functions of the cock, and the modern Greeks still hold that his crow scares away the nocturnal demons–a belief of which there is, curiously enough, no record in ancient Greece. As an apotropoeic bird the cock frequently appears on amulets and scuptures as early as the 6th century BC and it was probably in this aspect as affrighting demons of disease, that its presence was desired at childbirth–whence it was sacred to Leto–and that it was sacred to Asklepios,

Hebe and Herakles so the Romans offered the comb of the same bird to the Lares, in hopes of recovery from sickness.
From the cock as apotropoeic it was but a step to the cock as chthomie, i.e. as protector of the souls to or in the underworld, in which cpaacity he appears in association with Hermes and Persephone. The Russians under Sviatoslav, according to Leo Darostorum on the Istar by strangling cocks and pigs, and then casting them into the water. With this may be compared the similar account of the pagan Russian sacrifcie of a hen, at a funeral witnessed by the Arab traveller. Here too may come in the pagan Lithuanian usage of sacrificing cocks to the household serpents which seem to have been regarded as incarnations of deceased ancestors.
The cock as chthonic (primarily apotropoeic of demons hostile to the spirits of the dead sometimes develops by a perverse folk-logic into the precise opposite of his original function; he becomes a bird of evil, especially if his color be black. Thus a black cock is offered to appease the devil in Hungary, just as a black hen was sacrificed to him in Germany; while at a cave on the Banka Hill in Sarguja, theresident dano or demon is propitiated by the periodical sacrifice of a cock with white and black feathers. For a similar reason, it may be, the Talmud represents the shedim as having like the Greek sirens, cocks’ feet. In this gneral connection mention should be made not only of the use of the cock in black magic, which is found in India as early as the Atharva Veda, but also of the German belief that a cock, at the age of seven, lays a little egg, which must be thrown over the roof, else storms will beset the house: while the egg, if hatched, will produce a basilisk. A like belief is found in Lithuania. A cock seven years old lays an egg, which must be put on down in an old pot and placed in the oven. From this eggg is hatched a kruka (a bird with a very long, bright tail in literary usage Kurkos means ‘dwarf’, ‘elf’ ‘brownie’ which properly fed and cherished, without undue curiosity as to its coming and going brings its master riches and prosperity.
From the cock’s connection with hte dawn was derived his association with hte sun– a concept found at a very early period in India, since at the Alvemedha, a cock was sacrificed both to Savitr (the sun) and to Agni (hte fire), besides being sacred to Anumati (the moon on the 15th day) the Greek sacrifice of a white cock to the moon. A sun-bird the Greeks made the cock attend on Helios and Apollo so that the scultor Onatas cared a cock on the statue of Idomeneus, whom some legends regarded as a descendant of Helios.
Some Indian tribes of the Mexican Sierra Madre also regard te cock (which must here be a surrogate for some other bird, since this fowl is not indigenous to America) as the bird of the sun; and cakes in the shape of the cock, made of coarse maize, are solemnly eaten at a feast held in June; otherwise, the sun-god would not let the eastern Rain-Mother go–in other words, he would cause a total drought. A white cock is sacrificed to the sun godling in Northern India.
at Methana to avert damage to the grapes from the south-east wind, two men tore a white cock in half ran each with one of the halves, in opposite direction, round hte vineyard and buried the fowl at the spot where they met. THis has apparently led Gruppe to consider the cock as in some way connected with storm-demons–a theory pused to ridiculous extremes by such adherents of the ‘myhtological’ school as Meyer. The true explanation of this offering is doubtless that of Rouse–a ‘private person, unless he be rich can hardly be expected to offer a bull, or even a pig: his tribute was commonly the cock … the cock must have been a common offering … the poor man’s offering to other gods than Asclepius. In other words, the cock corresponds to the two turtle doves or two young pigeons which the Mosaic code permitted the poor man to offer instead of a lamb. Indeed it may well be questioned whetehr this does not present a better, because simpler, explanation of the offering of a cock to Askelpios, Helios, the moon and Leto, than the more far-fetched reasons alleged above and supported by Gruppe.
In his general aspect of a bird of light and the sun, the cock came, among the Germanic peoples to be connected with fire, this notion perhaps being frthered by the bird’s red comb and wattles, as well as by frequent redness of his plumage (cg also the Indian sacrifice of a cock to Agni) The Danish proverb, den rode hane galer over taget (‘the red cock crows on the roof’ means fire breaks out. In Germanic mythology moreover hte color of hte cock becomes important. The golden -combed cockawakes the heroes in Asgard, but a dark cock crows in the under-world.
The cock appears but rarely in connection with war, although at Lacedaemon, a captain who had performed the worl he had undertaken by cuning, or by courtesous treaty, on laying down his command, immolated an ox; he that had done business by battle offered a cock. On the other hand, the golden cock which , according to Plutarch , Artaxerxes privileged the Carian who had slain Cyrus to carry ever afterward ‘upon his spear before the irst ranks of the army in all expedition is not to be construed as connected in any real sense with a war-bird. The appropriateness of this gift lay simply in the resemblance of the crested Carian helmet to a cock’s comb, for ‘the Persians call the men of Caria cocks because of the crests with which they adorn their helmets.
In like manner there was only a quais association with war in the Roman practice of taking fowls iwth hte army or navy in hostile expeditions, their eating being considered a good omen and their refusal of food being deemed a presage of ill. A real war- omen however was teh foretelling of Theban victory by the oracle of Trophonius at Legades from the crowing of cocks ‘q…
This brings us to the consideration of the cock as a mantle bird. In India the crowing of a cock at evening is an evil omen although the cock is in general, a lucky bird especially in the early part of the day. Yet to touch it is as bad as to touch a dog or a chaedala (a memeber of the lowest possible Hindu aste), through not as bad as to touch an ass or a camel. while a cock is one of the creatures.
while a cock is one of hte creatures that must not see a Brahman eat or offer an oblation since the wind from its wings causes ritual impurit.
The general Indian attitude concerning the cock seems to summoned up in the Sakuna, a late textbook on omens to be drawn from birds
‘Verily the sight and sound of cock (engaged) in laudation of one not standing on the left–even though terrified he uttert thsi sound of ‘cocka doodle doo” it is not undesirable. His shrill deep call uttered at night ‘s end for the increase of the prince’s realm or what crow should be at the watchman’s watch the sound thereof is an enemy checked.
WHile the Pahlavi texts forbid the killing of a cock that crows unseasonably, the Persians often killed him.
The reasons why persons draw an evil omen from the unseasonable crowing of the cock, and at the same time puts him to death, in this that whe …in Americathe cock is not a native bird divine by putting fowls under water, the future being adjudged favourable in proportion to the number of air-bubbles that then rise to the surface.
The sagacity of the cock accounts for the use of the fowl as a corn spirit and in marriage ceremonies.
In its former aspect the cock has been discussed in detail by Fraser who shows that the belief in it is common throughout Europe and that the concept is manifested in two types. The last sheaf of the harvest is called the cock, and may be bound in cock form; or oter materials and carried home, hwere it may be kept till the next harvest. The living cock is killed as a sacrifice.

A reflex of the belief in the cock as a corn-spirit may exist in the pagan Balto-Slavic sacrifice of a cock and hen, among other offerings, to the earth — a ceremony described in considerable detail by Guagnini.

As a fertility bird the cock fills a role in marriage ceremonies. The Talmud states that a cock and hen as symbols of fecundity were carried before the bride and bridegroom on the wedding day. Among the southern Slavs the cock as the symbol of the bridegroom is often carried to the church by the wedding procession and frequently in Hungary the wedding procession is headed by a cock guarded by two men with drawn swords,
Finally the cock is a totem or tabs.
Here the classical example is that of the ancient Britons who as Caesar states:
In India the eating of cows’ meat was expressly forbidden and the cock being sacred to Persephone and Demeter was taboo to the mystics at Eleusis. A similar prohibition exited among the Slavs who would not eat young fowls for fear of sickness. A condition.
By the Chinese a cock is killed to give sanctity to an oath as in legal proceedings In many cases the function of the bird is still obscure, as for eg the basis of his association with the Celtic god Sucellus the god of the good mallet who is probably Cesar’s Dia Pater regarded by Driodical tradition as the father of the Celtic race, as well as the same bird’s connection with the Gallic ‘Mercury’.
Source: Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics by James Hastings

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