Fig. 1: Plan of the three settlements Mabuchi (A), Sens™ku (B) and Iwakura (C). The hamlet (D) is not involved. (S) designates the village shrines (Hachimangu, Tsubakijinja, Inarijinja), (Z) the central shrine (gosha).
Schematic order of the villages at the annual cult festival of their ujigami-shrines.
(A), (B), (C) are the three villages with their village shrines (D). (G) designates the founder house, ( T) its sanctuary (o-hake) in the garden. (E) indicates the meeting place
(aisatsu) before the central shrine. The small letters indicate the temporary cult installations: (a) the fixed cult symbols of the hut-like type, constructed by the elderly men's association (zenin), (b) the multi local high-pillar types built by the young men's association (wakamono) and (c) the explicitly mobile 'sun spears' (hiboko). The large numbers give the sequence of the festival procedures:
(1) eve of all villages: the cult torches before the central shrine are ignited.
(2) establishment of the altar (o-hake) in the garden of the founder house.
(3) morning procession (u no toki watari) to the central shrine (gosha matsuri)
(4)-(6) the three village festivals (uchi matsuri) during which fixed hut-like symbols are built and [at D2 and D3] multi local high pillars are burnt (hi-matsuri).
(7) At the end the altar in the founder house is desacralised.
Fig. 3: Village shrine (Tsubakijinja) of Sens™ku with the ujigami-mainshrine (honden) and two secondary shrines (bessha). The dancing hall (haiden) stands on the internal forecourt of the precinct, in front of it two temporary high pillars (g, f). On the outer forecourt, the fixed hut-like type (k, suetaimatsu) is put up. Its oversized knot symbolising the year (l) is detached from the symbol. The cult sign is placed opposite the Shint™ gate (torii). This cult sign is built after the framing ceremony: the mobile 'sun spear' (hiboko) is dissolved and becomes a material part of the fixed hut-like symbol.
Fig. 4: Fixed cult symbol (suetaimatsu, 'end-torch') of Mabuchi. (A) shows view, (B) vertical section, and (C) horizontal section. (D) shows a schematical plan with (a) village shrine (honden), (b) open cult-hall (haiden) and (c) temporarily constructed fixed 'seat of god' and (d) Shint™ gate (torii). Remarkable is the technical texture of the lower part of the cult sign, whereas in the upper part the stalks (reed, bamboo) are left natural and mobile.
Fig. 5: Multi local cult sign (kasataimatsu, Ueda). Illustration shows view, vertical section and three horizontal sections (2-5). In contrast to the types fixed to the ground, the 'high pillars' have no fixed relation to the ground. They are just diagonally braced and fixed with diagonal ropes. These temporary fixations can easily be dissolved before the pillars are used dynamically in often wild processions (e.g. while burning). Their multi local character often indicates connections of various settlements or parts of settlements in terms of settlement history. Note that the precious reed symbol is found in an elevated and reversed position, thus in opposition to the primary types fixed in the ground. The capital of the high pillars is often considered as 'sun-wheel' (nichirin), or 'umbrella' (kasa).
Fig. 6: Sun spear (hiboko). This explicitly mobile type is only found in this particular settlement complex. It consists basically of a thick green bamboo pole of about 6 metres height which is called 'sword' (tsurugi). At the top it shows a bundled bush of cedar twigs (hinoki no ha, or 'bonten') provided with Shint™ cult signs (gohei) and several windings of cords, thus explicitly fixing the bundle to the pole. In the middle part a large circle made of split bamboo is fixed to it. The round surface is stabilised by a rectangular grid of the same material. The meshes of this grid are covered by white strips of paper. Fixed on their upper side to cords following the horizontal bamboo splinters of the grid, they easily move with the slightest wind. They are called 'tama', jewels. The circle is considered as 'sun' (hi) or 'mirror' (kagami) evidently alluding to the main cult symbol of the sun goddess (Ise cult). After the main ceremony in front of the central shrine, this 'mirror' is dismantled in Sens™ku. It is dissolved, is 'devoured' by an entirely different form, which is evidently the primary type of cult symbol, the locally fixed sign of Sens™ku (suetaimatsu). Evidently this example might lead us to become skeptical about the language of myths (similarly in the case of many other types where cult symbols appear as 'dragons' and 'snakes')! Maybe, what we take as 'irrational' myths, had - very objectively - such territorio-semantic cult practices as their background. Are myths thus, in fact, concrete semantic and symbolic codes, which, originally, described socio-territorial conditions of a certain region?
Fig. 7: Temporary cult signs (yorishiro) of the Japanese village Shint™. Most drawings were made according to iconic presentations in Japanese folklore literature, as far as possible in adequate scale. The rest (Nr. 130) is based on fieldwork of the author. The multitude of forms does not indicate individual creation, but rather speaks of a long time of local differentiation processes, since the forms are basically reconstructed cyclically in the same form. In short, the materials imply prehistorical depth and general diffusion in Japanese village cultures.
Fig. 8: Presentation of the most important form types of the region surveyed (100 villages). Note: the order of the plate is based on certain priorities (e.g. 'fixed in the ground' and 'multi local'; for the particular criteria in detail, see EGENTER 1982 :44). The uppermost row shows variations between column types and hut-like types fixed to the ground.
Fig. 9: Construction of the hut-like type of cult symbol (suetaimatsu). Note: The construction processes show very primordial ways of building (piling, joining structural elements by binding, bundling of stalks, nailing with bamboo splinters etc.). At the end of the construction process the cult symbol is sacralised with ceremonies of the historic Shint™ (gohei, small sacred precinct defined with sacred rope).
Fig. 10: Construction of the high pillar type. The first phase of construction happens on the ground using rape as main material. When bundling is completed the pillar is raised and supported by a bamboo cross. This allows working on the reed part, resp. the capital or 'sun wheel' (nichirin). At the end of construction the pillar is erected and fixed with ropes and braced with bamboo poles. This type too finally obtains its sacrality by setting the paper sign (gohei) of centralised Shint™ on its top.
Fig. 11: Categorically polar principle expressed by these cult symbols illustrated here with a cylindrical column type. The lower part (L) is compact, the upper part (U) is empty, transparent, the stalks are left natural, mobile in the wind, whereas the lower part is markedly technical. With its 12 tightly knotted secondary ropes (symbolising months) a clearly defined cylindrical form results. The main rope (shimenawa) with its symbolically emphasised knot is found at the interface (M) of both, the upper and the lower parts. At the same time the cult symbol defines a central axis (CA), implies the path towards it (W) and differentiates space into 'in front' (F) and 'at the back' (B), the side opposite to the knot.
Fig. 12: Schematic representation of polar categories Note: They were drawn in separate pairs: naturalness and technique, formally diffuse and geometrically defined, bright and dark, multitude and unity, movement and stability.
Fig. 13: Schematic representation of formal expression. Note: The forms are 'irrational'. They can not be defined clearly. With their polar qualities, they are at the same time natural and artificial, stable and mobile, geometrical and diffuse, or, with Nietzsche, they show an Apollonian and a Dionysian part united in the same form. In other words, their expression is close to the Chinese Yin-Yang type of thought. If one includes the (sacred) main rope, one could speak of 'trinity'. But note the interesting causal factor: the rope still shows its primary constructive character. It is "conditio sine qua non" of the form referring to the formal unit as well as to its complementary articulation. Evidently the concreteness of the 'irrational' in this case reveals the potential of a cognitive model. It is remarkable in this context that many metaphysical systems are essentially based on such irrational relations of numbers or other categories (Chinese, Euro-Mediterranean).
Fig. 14: Diversity and unity. On the basis of this principle of 'coincidence of opposites' very different forms can be considered analogous. The differentiating principle allows social and territorial differentiations. Thus, as models of harmony based on the 'coincidence of opposites' the forms express also an idealising principle.
Fig. 15: Cognitive dialogue of the sacred symbols with natural forms (tree). Note: Many cult signs reveal a cognitive dialogue with natural or technical forms. High pillars set aflame and carried around in horizontal position are often considered as dragons (ry˛) or 'lantern ships' (chochinfune). Cult ropes are in some cases interpreted as snakes (daija), crabs (ebi) or fish (namazu), if used during dynamical phases of rites. Most striking however are the artificial trees built in some villages of the surveyed region. Maybe these surprisingly 'real' looking trees could tell us a lot about how man 'discovered' natural trees (See EGENTER 1981b).
Fig. 16: Selection of the most important symbolic concepts found in the region surveyed. An enormous manifold of symbolism is found among these cult signs. In (1) the cylindrical reed column (a) is considered 'male', however, if the reed is bent down, the same form is considered 'female'. It has to be noted here: the allusion to human physical gender differences is minimal. The basis of the connection is merely categorical (protruding / hanging hairstyle). In the case of (2) the cult rope is called 'origins' (moto), (3) alludes to the imperial-mythical (sun spear). In (4) the bamboo-bush (a) is called 'heavenly canopy'. The capital wheel of (5) is called 'sun wheel (nichirin). (6) shows a net-like cord-calendar. Each radial rope counts as month, the main rope represents the year. (7) shows what we called 'structural symbolism'. The inside and outside of many forms is interpreted in opposition (8): the interior bamboo is called 'heart-bamboo' (shin-dake), the outer one 'hand-bamboo' (te-dake, alluding to extremity). The reed symbol at the top of the high pillars (9) is considered as Yin-Yang symbol (jap. iny™). (10) shows the two headed snake (daija) characterising the shrine access path during the year. At the festival two one-headed semi-snakes guard two cult symbols and dissolve with them into nothingness during cultic fire. In (11) the high pillar becomes a dragon spitting fire (ry˛) or a nightly lantern ship (ch™chinfune). In (12) two symbols (male and female) show bulging dragon bodies with quickly moving dragon heads. In (13) an artificial tree type found in some villages is shown. (14) depicts crabs, (15) snakes, (16) a symbol showing snakes (shimenawa), (17) a ship (fune), (18) a fish (namazu), and (19) represents the knot of the symbol of Senz™ku which is considered as the year. And, finally (20) shows male and female knots. Evidently the primary motive of this very heterogenous symbolic differentiation is the constructive structure of the symbols itself, the 'coincidence of opposites' to which more evolved concepts can accumulate. Without doubt, these symbols offer us very valuable insights into the 'deep structure' of symbolic thought.
Fig. 17: Cult markers as signs: territorial representation. The cult markers are also a kind of heraldry. Each village has its own form. Similar basic forms which are only altered in details, suggest affinities in terms of the local settlement history.
Fig. 18: Cult markers as signs: social representation Social representation is based on the artificial character of the cult markers. Construction, ritual handling of various forms are exclusively restricted on certain cult groups.
Fig. 19: Schematic organisation of the signs at the occasion of the gigantic fire-festival (himatsuri, taimatsu matsuri) of the mediaeval town ļmihachiman (Shiga prefecture; Himurei-Hachimangu). The festival can be traced back to the mediaeval foundation of the city (See EGENTER 1989b). At that time several villages were resettled at the periphery. The festival reflects this history. The relation of the villages regarding the town is depicted with the signs, with their positions in the whole and in the ways they are dealt with in the cultic framework. The festival can be 'read'.
Fig. 20: Functional complex related to the origins of settlement. Note: Diachronically, the socio-territorial sign in the centre of the scheme represents the continuity of the settlement foundation into the present. The essential means: cultic cyclic renewal of the symbol. At the same time it also contains the continuity of the social and spatial structure of the settlement as well as the ritual continuity, to which its owes its existence in the present. Thus, the sign is 'pars pro toto' of the whole settlement including its traditional, social, spatial and ritual orders. A lot can be explained of what conventionally was considered 'irrational' in such cults and their often strange modes of behavior. Most surprising: man follows the categories of the signs and symbols. Chaos, ecstatic movements, drunkenness etc. erupt always if the sign looses its toposemantic functions (ek-stasis) and consequently is dealt with in dynamic or destructive ways. When the new signs are established, however, the normal way of life takes over again.
Fig. 21: Interpretation of the cult signs in the framework of the genesis of settlement. These cult signs are interpreted in the framework of a traditional (or prehistorical) system of sacred territorial rights. The markers were established at settlement foundation and then were preserved by annual renewal, essentially for reasons of territorial politics: to preserve the legal sign through time. House lines (ie) and bloodlines (d™zoku), the social hierarchies of the Japanese village constitute themselves by means of this cultic structure. The scheme shows the original position (H) of the 'clan-god' (uji-gami) dwelling in the fibroconstructive sign, which is later replaced by a wooden shrine, the fibrous sign being reduced to temporary existence in front (K) of the shrine at the cyclic cult festival. The founder's house (G) becomes the dominant house. Its head is the head (uji no kami) in the village hierarchy. The wider circle of descendants (Z) of the founder line form the 'children of the clan' (ujiko). They all take regularly part in the ujigami-cults. Later newcomers (N), however, are usually excluded. In spite of many accumulated elements, which make reality more complex, this scheme provides a fairly reliable model of Japanese village structure in general.
Fig. 22: Schematic representation of polar organisation of space in the Japanese village. Settlement geography follows the categorial principle of the cult symbols.
Fig. 23: Access-place scheme modified according to Dagobert FREY (1947) In his very important study of sacred architecture within a large 'cross-cultural belt' of Afro-Euro-Asian high cultures, which reaches from the Mediterranean Sea to China and Japan, Frey managed to show that there is an underlying 'design principle' which unites contradicting categories of movement and rest as polarly organised units, spatially as well as architecturally. His survey is one of the few studies which can be considered as seriously exploring anthropological horizons of art and architecture. The picture shows the primary element with the main marker (A) and its implication of an axis to which gate markers may accumulate, forming a gradual sequence of polar units all focussed on the primary marker. Evidently this 'access place scheme' can easily be recognised as the basic anthropological element of all premodern architecture.
Fig. 24: Temporary shrine (shinden) on the outer festival grounds (o-tabisho) of the Kasuga shrine at Nara. Note: The splendid cult festival (wakamiya no on-matsuri) is annually performed in December. The temporary shrine is built with raw materials and forms a strong contrast to the refined imperial court traditions like Bugaku dances and N™ theatre plays presented at this occasion. (Description: HAGIWARA T. 1965: 123-128).
Fig. 25: Temporary 'seat of the deity' (yorishiro) called 'miaresho' erected in the north of Ky™t™ at the occasion of the 'Mallow-festival' (Aoi-matsuri) of the Kamo shrine (Ky™t™) Note: A mysterious nightly ceremony called miaresai, is related to this sanctuary. The punctuated line in plan (A) shows the procession of the priests to the place where the ceremony is prepared (2) and, further, the circumambulation (3) around the front part of the arrangement. (B) shows the horizontal layout, (C) a section and (D) the front view with garland detail (E). The dark circles indicate decorations with evergreen-twigs (sakaki). (Description: HAGIWARA T. 1965 :76-82).
Fig. 26: Freshly renewed cult marker at the Matsushita shrine near Ise (Futamich™). In a study related to the cult marker of the type called 'himorogi' in ancient texts, Toshiaki HARADA (1961b : 25) has hinted to these markers found in Ise. They are annually coated with new evergreen branches (sakaki). Towards the end of the yearly cycle they look fairly weathered.
Fig. 27: Cult sign covered with evergreen twigs (sakaki) under the main shrine building (honden) of the shrine precinct of Matsushita, a village shrine formally related to the imperial shrine system at Ise. The picture was taken in late autumn 1972. Annual renewal of the coating with fresh sakaki twigs is around New Year. Consequently the marker is fairly weathered.
Fig. 28: Schematic presentation of the main markers of the Matsushita shrine precinct in bilevelled form. The most important markers (of a total of 11) are found in a sacro-spatial arrangement which we called 'access-place-scheme'. The drawing is made according to photographs made on the spot. But the drawing separates the data into two levels, a primary level of fibroconstructive demarcation and - in the upper level - the more evolved one using advanced wood construction. Accumulation! Evidently the primary (prehistorical) type of cultic demarcation was traditionally preserved below the more evolved form. The document character of such markers can now be easily understood. Their character as something of high antiquity is evident from their technological condition. In this bilevelled arrangement they also support the antiquity of the wooden shrine and the wooden gate (torii). And 'antiquity' is of high value in the agrarian system of Japan: as we tried to show above, antiquity of residence equals political power. Thus, the paradox of the eminently high values of these markers can best be understood if one compares them with 'insignia'.
Fig. 29: Plan of the innermost precincts (Naig˛) of the imperial shrines (K™tai jing˛ hong˛) at Ise. Below the main shrine (sh™den, nr. 9 in the plan) a small building is erected which protects what is - as an insignium - probably the most important part of the whole shrine system: the 'illustrious central pillar' (shin no mi-hashira) of the Japanese world. Thus, what is freely accessible in countless village rites, that is, their local 'seats of deities', has become a top secret in the imperial line, evidently because it documents a microcosmic agrarian element (see plates 7a-g) which questions the macrocosmic interpretation of the written myths.
Fig. 30: View on top of the 'illustrious central pillar' (shin no mi-hashira) below the main imperial shrine (sh™den) of the innermost shrine precinct (Naig˛) at Ise. A piled cedar pole protruding about 1 meter above the ground and left natural can be seen in the centre of the picture with its V-formed upper end. Cyclically the evergreen materials (sakaki) are renewed. The circular plates are sacrificial dishes of raw terracotta. The picture was taken in 1972 at the occasion of the renewal rites of the whole shrine system (shikinen zengu).