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Silkworms and Consorts in Nara Japan

Michael Como
Asian Folklore Studies
Vol. 64, No. 1 (2005), pp. 111-131
Published by: Nanzan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30030360
Page Count: 21
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Silkworms and Consorts in Nara Japan
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Abstract

This article examines the role of the Chinese ritual calendar and continental technologies in the formation of early literary and ritual tropes of the Japanese islands. Special attention is given to a small cluster of legends involving imperial emissaries that are sent to call out women with whom rulers have become enamored. The text argues that these legends illustrate the influence of continental rites and legends related to weaving and sericulture on the formation of early tropes of kingship and courtly romance. Because these legends appear to have been rooted in Chinese rites in which silkworm goddesses were "called out" using imagery based upon the silkworm's ability to "die" and be reborn, the text further argues that these legends may have been related to the development of purportedly "native" funerary practices during the period.

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