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The Deity and Wind of Ise

Peter Metevelis
Asian Folklore Studies
Vol. 61, No. 1 (2002), pp. 1-34
Published by: Nanzan University
DOI: 10.2307/1178676
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1178676
Page Count: 34
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The Deity and Wind of Ise
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Abstract

The Deity Wind spread anciently and widely; contrary to our common assumption, it is not unique to Japan. A component in the cosmic bulk of monsoon-deities, the Deity Wind is an analogue of the pneumatic attribute of West Asian storm gods. Thus, like the gales of West Asian god Enlil, the Deity Wind intervenes as a storm to bring its worshippers victory in historical battles. For example, victors in both medieval Japan and fifth-century BC Greece similarly interpreted an assisting meteorological event as divine interposition by their Deity Wind. In the Japanese case, the Wind is attributed to the nominal sun goddess, who likely originated as a monsoon deity. As benign as destructive, the spirit-rich Deity Wind also blows mantling chaff off the grain, cleansing it-and does likewise for the human spirit. Origins of the Japanese Deity Wind can be sought in the ancient Austroasiatic south. But when Wa groups ancestral to the Japanese migrated into the northern archipelago to set up their city-state-like kingdoms, they found the typhoons and the monsoonal flows there significantly different and less imposing than in their continental homeland. Accordingly, the Deity Wind lost its dominance in their lives, especially after a universal empire settled over the archipelago.

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