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Thread: Imperial Regalia-Jewels from where?

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    Default Imperial Regalia-Jewels from where?

    My readings tell me that the sword, spear, and mirrors are from China. They don't mention the jewels. Were these indigenous?

    Thanks.
    Don J. Modesto
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    Where the material carved to make the jewels comes from I can't say.

    However, I have seen photographs of royal headdresses from Korea festooned with magatama which seem to prefigure similar headdresses and magatama in Japan.

    Not really very surprising when you start to look at other patterns of transmission of Buddhist, Confucian, and neo-Vedic teachings and artifacts from the Kingdom of Paekche to Japan around the middle of the first millenium CE, Nihonjinron notwithstanding.

    Fred Little

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    There is legend and reality to be found in the Imperial Regalia. The legen states that the sword, the kusanagi-no-tsurugi (or grass-cutter), was found when Susanowo. He is the Storm God, and younger brother of the Sun Goddess Ameratsu. It is said that one day while he was traveling in Izumo province, Susanowo heard sounds of weeping. He came upon a couple weeping. He asked them the reason for their sorrow and they replied that an eight-headed serpent had eaten seven of their eight beautiful daughters. Once a year it would come for another daughter. Susanowo asked the couple for the daughter's hand in marriage if he was able to slay the serpent. They agreed and so he ordered them to brew strong sake and fill eight large buckets with the sake. When the serpent came for the last daughter, it first found the rice wine, each head guzzled a whole tub thristly and then promptly fell asleep. At which point the Storm God promptly drew his killing sword and hacked the monster to pieces. In one of the eight tails he found the kusanagi-no-tsurugi which he offered to Ameratsu as a gift.

    Now, Susanowo seemed to have an affinity for angereing his older sister. The worst incident brought about the other two Imperial Regalia. It seems that he had flayed a stag and flung it into her throne room. She was so angered and insulted that she fled from the palace and hid in a cave. The other gods were distraught. They hung tear drop shaped jewels in a tree and brought forth a specatular mirror. Then the Goddess of the Dawn enticed Ameratsu out of her cave with a dance where she then caught sight of her reflection in the mirror. She was so captivated that the other god were able to pull her out and she was never hidden again.

    In reality. The replicas still worshipped today were commissioned by the Emperor Sujin (90 - 37 b.c.) Ther mirror is enshrined at Dai Jungu of Ise, and though almost twice destroyed by fire (only part of the mirror remains today) It was never replaced. The jewels were once stolen but then returned to the Imperial family and have never left posession of them again. They reside at the Imperial Palace. The (real) sword was said to be lost at the sea battle of Dannoura where the young Emperor Antoku lept into the sea with it. Though some would argue it was only the replica. Regardless, the real sword is said to be at Atsuta Jingu near Nagoya.

    If anyone sees any flaws with any of this post, please correct me. I hope this helps clear some things up.

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    Ian Christie Guest

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    There is legend and reality to be found in the Imperial Regalia. The legend states that the sword, the kusanagi-no-tsurugi (or grass-cutter), was found by Susanowo, the Storm God, and younger brother of the Sun Goddess Ameratsu. It is said that one day while he was traveling in Izumo province, Susanowo heard sounds of weeping. He came upon a couple heavy with grief.

    ***For whatever reason, I failed to proofread before I posted, and then didn't try to edit until the time limit had expred...I corrected the glaring mistakes in the first paragraph so that it's much less awkwar.***

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    Thank you for your detailed response. I'm going to check a reference and get back to you.
    Don J. Modesto
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    Originally posted by don
    Thank you for your detailed response. I'm going to check a reference and get back to you.
    Hello Don,

    The latest publication on Shinto in English that I have is the catalogue to an exhibition mounted at the British Museum in 2001. There are illustrations of naniwa dated to the late Kofun period (3rd -6th century AD) carrying a sword, mirrors and magatama beads. However, in the discussion by Victor Harris, the provenance of the beads is left unstated. Harris simply quotes a section from the Nihongi and Wei-shi, to the effect that the Silla prince Ama-no-hiko brought gits of (among other things) "one ha-boso (leaf-slender) gem, one ashi-daka (high leg) gem, one red stone ukaka gem..." The quotation is from p.26 of the exhibition catalogue.

    Best regards,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

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    Default Might This Be the Catalog?

    Hello Dr. Goldsbury,

    Following your pointer to Don, I found:

    100 Views of Mount Fuji
    Author Written by Timothy Clark
    Details 240 x 175mm, 208 pages
    50 black & white illustrations
    Publication Date 2001
    Last Reprinted 2000
    ISBN 0 7141 1494 4 Paperback
    Price Per Item Paperback £19.99 product code: 14944

    Before I bother the good people at the interlibrary loan desk, could you confirm that this is the volume you referenced?

    Many thanks for your assistance.

    Fred Little

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    Default Re: Might This Be the Catalog?

    Originally posted by kokumo
    Hello Dr. Goldsbury,

    Following your pointer to Don, I found:

    100 Views of Mount Fuji
    Author Written by Timothy Clark
    Details 240 x 175mm, 208 pages
    50 black & white illustrations
    Publication Date 2001
    Last Reprinted 2000
    ISBN 0 7141 1494 4 Paperback
    Price Per Item Paperback £19.99 product code: 14944

    Before I bother the good people at the interlibrary loan desk, could you confirm that this is the volume you referenced?

    Many thanks for your assistance.

    Fred Little
    Mr Little,

    The book I was quoting from was the catalogue to the "main event" of 'Japan 2001' held in the UK. This was the exbibtion at the British Museum entitled "Shinto: the Sacred Art of Ancient Japan". The catalogue is published by the British Museum Press and the ISBN is 0-7141-1498-7.

    You might now find the book hard to obtain and the only copy I have seen here was (briefly) in the bookstore of the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo.

    To whet your appetite for your search, here is a quotation from p.104, concerning a comma-shaped magatama found in Shimane Prefecture (near my part of the world):

    "The magatama (comma-shaped) bead appears from the Late Jomon (1500-1000 BC) period onwards, and is said to have originated as the tooth of an animal. In the Yayoi period the shape became more reminiscent of a crescent moon. Some magatama have line engravings on the head section and are known as chojigashira (clove-head). Their uniquely Japanese forms developped during the Kofun period (3rd-6th century AD). This example (the exhibit with catalogue No. 32) is of a deep transparent green, made of the hard stone called rokan, which was used for jewellery. Among other known examples, this jewel compares with one from the Asuka period (late 6th century - 710 AD), which was excavated from the foundation of the tower of Asukadera Temple in Nara Prefecture. Several sources of the stone used for magatama are known in Japan, but the only place where such a fine quality material could have come from is around Itogawa-shi on the Japan Sea side of Honshu. Hard stone obtained from this region was esteemed as material for making jewellery from around the beginning of the Middle Jomon period (2500-1500 BC), and is recorded in Japanese mythology (the Nunagawahime legend)..."

    Best regards,
    Last edited by P Goldsbury; 10th January 2004 at 11:56.
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

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    Originally posted by don
    Thank you for your detailed response. I'm going to check a reference and get back to you.
    Thanks to Messrs Little and Goldsbury as well.

    I went looking for the reference for the Chinese origin of the sword and mirror and, lo!, found a ref to the jewels in Vol. 1 of the Cambridge History of Japan, "Early KAMI Worship" by Matsumae Takeshi on p. 345:

    "A myth recorded in both the Kojiki and the Nihon shoki tells how Ame no Hiboko, son of the king of Silla in Korea, sailed to Japan bearing magical jewels that calmed the winds and waves. Ame no Hiboko appears in the chronicles as a human being, but the Harima fudoki identifies him as a kami from Silla who challenged the powerful kami Onamuchi. Ame no Hiboko was probably venerated by Korean immigrants. Moreover, myths about the descent of kami from heaven were sometimes set in Korea rather than in Japan. In an extant fragment of the Chikuzen fudoki, for instance, a powerful northern Kyush family claimed as its ancestor a kami named Hiboko (identified by some scholars as Ame no Hiboko) who had descended to a mountain peak in the northern Korean kingdon o Koguryu."

    Thank you, Gentlemen.
    Don J. Modesto
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    Default Re: Re: Might This Be the Catalog?

    Originally posted by P Goldsbury
    Mr Little,

    The book I was quoting from was the catalogue to the "main event" of 'Japan 2001' held in the UK. This was the exbibtion at the British Museum entitled "Shinto: the Sacred Art of Ancient Japan". The catalogue is published by the British Museum Press and the ISBN is 0-7141-1498-7.

    You might now find the book hard to obtain and the only copy I have seen here was (briefly) in the bookstore of the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo.

    Thank you very much Dr. Goldsbury!

    It sounds as if that lone volume in the Imperial Hotel Bookstore has found a good home!

    I found a source that is holding a copy for me.

    Now I just need to sweet-talk my wife and remind her that my birthday is not so far off. Fortunately, she knew from the beginning that I'm a text addict and there's new shelving waiting to be filled.

    Best regards,

    Fred Little

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    Together, the mirror, sword, and jewel constitute the Imperial Regalia (“Sanshu-no-Shinki”) and are the symbols of legitimacy of the Emperor. They are the most sacred objects in Shinto, and have legitimized the Imperial Line throughout Japanese history from Jimmu (the first Emperor of Japan) to Akihito (Japan’s present and 125th Emperor) in a tradition that continues up to the present day. No living person has ever set eyes on them and they are believed to have remained untouched for many centuries. Stored in three separate locations (see below), they are believed to be wrapped within several layers of brocade, and then stored and sealed within lacquer cases.

    Although there are some representational illustrations and numerous historical illustrations, there are no first-hand, contemporary illustrations, nor are there photos or even reliable modern-day accounts of their appearance. Current secrecy surrounding the regalia is so heightened, that some groups question whether they really do exist. Such groups claim that they are merely symbolizations of legitimacy – similar to England’s Excalibur. I tend to believe they exist, as countless historical accounts of their existence are replete with consistency and verifiable data.

    The origins of these artifacts are described in the Kojiki (“Record of Ancient Matters”, circa 712CE) and the Nihongi (“Chronicles of Japan”, circa 697CE). They both describe a curved jewel of increasing prosperity (“Yasakani-no-Magatama” – the comma) and a mirror of illuminating brightness (“Yata-no-Kagami” – the mirror). Apparently, Susa-no-o (the God of Oceans) had been especially mischievous, and as a result of an ensuing argument, Amaterasu (the Sun Goddess) hid from him deep in a cave. He used both the jewel and the mirror to lure her out of that cave.

    Immediately thereafter, Susa-no-o was forced to slay a great and terrible eight-headed, eight-tailed, serpent. Afterwards, he discovered a great sword in one of its tails, but he felt that he was not worthy to keep it. He named it Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi ("Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven") and gifted it to Amaterasu in order to make amends for is earlier mischief.

    Amaterasu then entrusted the three treasures to her "celestial grandson" Ningi-no-Mikoto as symbols of his authority to rule over Japan. Ningi-no-Mikoto's great-grandson was Jimmu, who inherited the Regalia and became Japan's first Emperor in 600 BCE.

    From then on, the regalia have been passed down from Emperor to Emperor, resulting in a traditionally unbroken lineage. No emperor can be legitimately enthroned unless he possesses the whole of the Regalia, even to this day. Numerous Battles have been fought over the right to possess the Regalia, each individual piece has been the victim of attempted thefts, and a number of counterfeits have been made or attempted. For instance, in 98BCE, the tenth emperor Sujin had replicas made so that while he could keep one set with him, he could also enshrine the other set to honor the gods. Likewise, it is rumored (falsely, I believe) that Oda Nubunaga covertly commissioned a set to be made in a bid to oust the Emperor from his throne, but that his death in June of 1582 forestalled the project and the attempt. I personally believe the rumor was spread by Akechi Mitsuhiude to legitimize his coup of Nobunaga, which was really motivated by his persona grudge. It’s a long story … don’t get me started. Many other stories of counterfeits and theft are sprinkled throughout the history of Japan.

    The whole history of the Regalia is a long and fascinatingly interwoven part of the history of Japan itself, and while I could go on indefinitely for pages and pages, I believe I’ve digressed enough.

    The mirror is now stored at the Inner Shrine of the Temple of Ise, dedicated to Amaterasu, while the sword is stored at the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya dedicated to Susa-no-o, and the jewel is now stored at the Tokyo Imperial Palace, close to the Emperor’s person.
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    Dimytri Komanatov

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    Kyukage,

    Thank you for your detailed post. Are there two sets of jewels? In my post above, I wrote of Ame no Hiboko's. You wrote of Susa-no-o's.

    Did this idea of jewels come from SE Asia or Korea or China (not that the idea isn't common to all, of course.)

    FWIW, I'm given to understand that the Amaterasu myth is tellingly similar to one from SE Asia. Evidently, the Yamato threw over their previous KAMI, Takamimusubi, because too many clans worshipped him. They needed something at once more exclusive and something to put themselves on a par with their Korean counterparts who also worshipped a sun goddess. That's why they took over Ise Shrine. and their KAMI Amaterasu.
    Don J. Modesto
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    What we need to remember is that the Japanese of the period where immigrants from Korea and China, and so many of the myths would - no doubt - be similar if not parallel, if not derivative.

    To bring the idea closer to home, consider how similar the Greek and Roman mythologies are - nearly identical - and this is due in large part because of the close geographical proximity of the two peoples, and the parallel nature of their development.

    Are there two sets of jewels? In my post above, I wrote of Ame no Hiboko's. You wrote of Susa-no-o's.
    My understanding is that Susa-no-o obtained the jewel, not made it so it is perfectly plausible that the jewels are one in the same … Ame no Hiboko most likely brought it over, and Susa-no-o obtained it thereafter.

    Did this idea of jewels come from SE Asia or Korea or China (not that the idea isn't common to all, of course.)
    My personal belief is that the whole ‘jewel’ concept is an ancient one, and originates from times long since lost to antiquity. It is common amongst most Asian cultures, but I believe it’s origins are celestial: tales have it that the Great Dragons had their Pearls, and imbued some specific jewels of various composition with celestial power to help man “see the way” as it where.

    FWIW, I'm given to understand that the Amaterasu myth is tellingly similar to one from SE Asia. Evidently, the Yamato threw over their previous KAMI, Takamimusubi, because too many clans worshipped him. They needed something at once more exclusive and something to put themselves on a par with their Korean counterparts who also worshipped a sun goddess. That's why they took over Ise Shrine. and their KAMI Amaterasu.
    I wouldn’t doubt it, but neither would I buy it completely.
    -------------------------
    Dimytri Komanatov

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