continued (part 4)


FIBROUS MARKERS AND OTHER OBJECTS CONSTRUCTED AT RITE


The following plate shows all the sacred objects made with the same technique at this village.

Most important is the uppermost row with 4 types of fixed markers: (1) male pillartype, (2) female pillartype (protruding stalks of male form are bent down). (3) shows the hutlike type of the first day, (4) the hutlike marker built outside the shrine precinct on the second day (implying the whole village as a unity).

The second row shows the mobile type of high pillars. These multi-topical signs indicate mutual relations of different sacred places.

The thrid row shows mobile cult objects of secondary importance in this context.

-39-


TOPOGRAPHY AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS IN TIME


This plate shows the temporal structure of the cult festival related to the four hamlets and their sacred topography. (1) means 'eve' (yomiya) of the festival, (2) the 'main day' (honsai). (A) relates to the part of individual hamlets (uchi-matsuri), (B) implies the celebration of the higher level of the communal unity (gosha-matsuri). Single lines show the movements of the elder's association from their homes to particular sacred places. The surfaces show construction, standing phase and destruction of the signs they build. The same is shown for the young mens associations (double lines, darker surfaces).


Evidently this type of cult festival is not "primitive" in the sense of simple! At the contrary, it shows a high complexity of behavioural patterns which express a clear order.


- 40 -


THE TERRITORIO-SOCIO-SEMANTIC FUNCTION OF THE SIGNS


The following plate shows:

A detailed

ANALYSIS OF PLACES

(houses, settlements)

AND SACRED TOPOGRAPHY

during the two days of the local cult.

It presents a schematic spatial layout

of the relations of social units (cult association),

settlements (4 hamlets forming a village) and

permanent (secondary)

and temporary (primary)

sacred topography.


These charts show clearly one important aspect, the TERRITORIO-SOCIO-SEMANTIC function of the cult festival. Three hamlets celebrate their own socioterritorial unity on the first day and on the second day all four hamlets join to celebrate their socioterritorial unity and continuity on the higher level of the whole village. The systematic character is due to the fact that each cult association constructs its own sign at a very particular place and that each association's ritual behaviour is strictly related to one particular sign. In this sense the festival structure becomes "readable": the settlement complex celebrates its own non-written local past with signs of a quite unusual nature. 'History' is not written on paper, preserved in archives. Signs - as documents - are set up physically into the local landscape. Like on a chessboard: everybody once could read this "history".


-40-


SOME REMARKS REGARDING THE PRECISION OF FIELD RESEARCH


In comparison with conventional mostly verbal description of such objects the method of architectural anthropology requires a high precision in its descriptions, because, first, these observations form the basis of an inductively built theory. And, second, the meticulously described complex of material, construction and form starts to speak to the researcher.

Reed is a very precious material in the agrarian consciousness of Japan, because it is related to the first settlers who implanted themselves in the jungles of the widespread reedfields of those times. A kind of pioneerism nostalgy as we know it from other cultures.

Within the urban society of today, straw is a very worthless material. But in the Japanese agrarian society it is part of the rice cycle, part of the rice plant, which, ultimately supports existence. There are many cults directly related to the rice cycle where either the still rooted or cut rice plant plays an eminent role.

Many other types of plants were of high value in a society that lived in and from an environment mainly consisting of plants. Pinetrees and bamboo were related to mountains and hilly areas above and beyond the settlements.

In other words, plants and the way they are used in cultic constructions gives us precious and highly objective hints about the value and thought system of those who perform the rites.

For these reasons it is very important to document such events with utmost care and using the means of architectural representation at the highest accuracy possible. Plans, views and sections are drawn, the constructive conditions of the materials are questioned, the formal principles are analysed. All this will help us to understand what this primordial type of building has to tell us. Maybe much more than the seemingly mysterious pyramids of ancient Egypt!


IT IS WELL KNOWN THAT 'NATURAL SCIENCES' STARTED TO BECOME EFFICIENT IN THEIR COMMUNICATION, WHEN THEY INTRODUCED 'TECHNICAL DOCUMENTATION' OF THEIR FINDS (LINNE: PLANTS RENDERED IN FRONTAL VIEWS AND HORZONTAL AND VERTICAL SECTIONS; ANATOMY: HUMAN BODY IN VIEWS AND SECTIONS!). EXCEPT IN ART AND ARCHAEOLOGY, THERE IS NOT MUCH ENTHUSIASM FOR THIS TYPE OF DOCUMENTATION IN THE HUMANITIES, MAINLY BECAUSE CULTURE IS DOMINANTLY CONSIDERED ON A SPIRITUAL BASIS. HOWEVER, THIS MIGHT CHANGE, IF WE BECOME AWARE THAT THE ORIGINS OF WHAT WE CALL 'SPIRITUAL' HAD VERY LIKELY BEEN OF AN AESTHETIC NATURE!


-41-


CONSTRUCTION OF A COLUMN TYPE


-42-


CONSTRUCTION OF A HUT-LIKE TYPE


-43-


CONSTRUCTION OF A MOBILE HIGH PILLAR TYPE


-44-

- 45 -


Continue to next part
Back to Homepage