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Water-Of-Immortality Myths In Altaic And Japanese Cultures

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Chapter Summary

&t;Water-of-Immortality&t; refers to such divine water in various myths from different ethnic backgrounds. Water-of-Immortality myths prevailing in Altaic-speaking areas, Japan and the Korean Peninsula, share certain characteristics. This essay concentrates on the analysis of such myths in Mongolian, Kazakh and Japanese, using comparative approaches in folklore studies like typological comparison and motif interpretation. The Water-of-Immortality theme is based upon human fear of death and human longing for immortal life, reflected in people's belief in the Water-of-Immortality and related rituals in the old times. The motif of snake sloughing off its skin in Japanese Water-of-Immortality myths is connected with the skin-peeling motif in the origin of death myth in ancient Mesopotamia. As for the similar elements in Japanese and Mongolian beliefs in skin-peeling, there are two assumptions: one is that they are parallel cultural developments emerging simultaneously; the other is that this is a result of cultural transmission.

Keywords: Altaic culture; Japanese culture; motif interpretation; origin of death myth; skin-peeling motif; Water-of-Immortality myths



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