國學院大學
國學院大學デジタルミュージアム

Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1 5. Rites and Festivals
カテゴリー2 Rituals in Okinawa and Amami
Title
Text Two types of creation myth can be found in the Ryūkyūs: the court myth contained in the histories compiled by the Shuri court and the folk myths circulating in Amami, Okinawa, Miyako and Yaeyama. The mythologies contain similarities and differences as well as a variety of motifs; they are quite complex.
Chūzan seikan (1650) represents the best example of court mythology. According to this work, there was a deity called Amamiku living in the heavenly palace who was ordered by the Heavenly Emperor to descend to the earth and create islands. Getting earth, rocks, grasses and trees from the Heavenly Emperor, Amamiku created various islands. In response to Amamiku's request for human stock (hitodane) to populate the islands, the Heavenly Emperor sent down two of his children, a boy and a girl. The two deities were impregnated by the winds that blew about and they gave birth to three boys and two girls. The eldest son became the progenitor of the royal house, the next son that of the clan chieftains (aji), the third son that of the farmers, the eldest daughter that of the high-ranking court priestesses (kimigimi), and the youngest daughter that of the female celebrants (noro). Amamiku ascended to heaven and begged for the seeds of the five grains (gokoku; wheat, rice, foxtail millet [awa], Chinese millet [kibi], and beans); having received them the deity planted them on Kudaka  Island, and in Chinen and Tamagusuku. With this story, the myth tells of the world of the deities and the creator deity, of the creation of the land and the people, and of the origins of grain (the staple food). The heavenly nature of the deities' realm recalls obotsu-kagura, the other world where the kami dwell. Many traditions hold Amamiku to be a female deity and the wife of the male deity Shinerikyo. The disposition of the five children illustrates the ideology of a royal court in which rites and rule were unified. The origins of the five grains likewise form the basis for the agricultural rituals performed at court. Court mythology is also recorded in works such as Ryūkyū Shintōki (1608), Omorosōshi (1623), Chūzan seifu (1701) and Kyūyō (1745).
     The folk mythology contains even greater diversity. The folk myths overwhelmingly speak of creation by siblings rather than by a deity descending from heaven. Many are also linked with a flood myth. The progenitors of humanity learned how to procreate by observing the doings of wild animals such as the dugong. Many tales report that the first child was deformed. According to the Ryūkyūkoku yuraiki, Amamiku brought rice seeds from the other world across the sea (nirai-kanai), a tale that is oft repeated in the various folk traditions. There are also legends about a bird that brought grain seeds from the other world and dropped them in this world, and that say a giant called Amanchu divided heaven and earth.
— Hatakeyama Atsushi
國學院デジタルミュージアム
國學院大學
國學院大學デジタルミュージアム
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