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The Sun and the Throne.

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In this study, I seek to elucidate the process by which the Japanese royal descent myth evolved into the form with which the modern world is familiar. I analyze and compare the forms of the myth found in the Nihongi and the Kojiki, and explicate their evolution through historical and textual analysis. By examining the interplay of the internal dynamics of the myth itself and the external factors that worked to shape it, I reconstruct the mythographical process, and suggest key factors that may have molded the myth. In particular, I argue that it was the introduction of Buddhism at the Yamato court that stimulated the establishment of an imperial cult at Ise and the reconfiguration of key mythic traditions. According to my analysis, the myth itself originated during the reign of king Keitai (early 6th century). In the original myth, the ancestor of the ruling house was not the sun-goddess Amaterasu, but rather the heavenly ruler Takami-musubi. In the mid-sixth century, a sun-goddess named Ō-hirume was introduced in an effort to combat the rising influence of Buddhism. The artificial figure of Amaterasu was introduced only during the reign of Temmu, late in the seventh century.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Georgia Department of ReligionAthens, Georgia 30602-1625, USA


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