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Yamato-takeru: An "Arthurian" Hero in Japanese Tradition

C. Scott Littleton
Asian Folklore Studies
Vol. 54, No. 2 (1995), pp. 259-274
Published by: Nanzan University
DOI: 10.2307/1178944
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1178944
Page Count: 16
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Yamato-takeru: An "Arthurian" Hero in Japanese Tradition
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Abstract

The curious similarities between the legendary Japanese hero Yamato-takeru and King Arthur do not appear to be merely fortuitous. We now know that between the second and the fifth centuries A. D. the folklore of both Japan and Western Europe was influenced-both directly and indirectly-by that of several nomadic Northeast Iranian-speaking tribes (Sarmatians, Alans, etc.). These tribes originated in the steppes of what is today southern Russia and the Ukraine. The last surviving Northeast Iranian speakers, the Ossetians of the north-central Caucasus, preserve a corpus of legends about a hero called Batraz who closely resembles both Yamato-takeru and Arthur. It is suggested that Yamato-takeru, Arthur, and Batraz derive from a common Northeast Iranian prototype.

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