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Title: Pilgrimage to the Sacred Traces of Kôyasan: Place and Devotion in Late Heian Japan
Authors: Lindsay, Ethan
Advisors: Stone, Jacqueline I.
Contributors: Religion Department
Keywords: devotion
Subjects: Religion
Asian studies
Asian history
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the emergence of the mountain Kôyasan as an increasingly popular site for pilgrimage, burial, lay patronage, and monastic practice in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. This religious site in present-day Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, is now the headquarters of the Shingon tradition of Japanese Buddhism. Today it is very famous as the site where Japan's most famous monk, Kûkai (774-835), is said to dwell in perpetual meditation, awaiting the advent of the next Buddha. However, during the period of this study, Kôyasan was just emerging in the cultural imagination of the Japanese people. Using such sources as liturgical prayers, Buddhist tale literature, shrine and temple legends, and pilgrimage diaries, this study attempts to understand the early Kôyasan cult in all of its complexity. One major argument is that the early institutional history of Kôyasan cannot be understood apart from the history of the imaginaire, the non-material, imaginative realm in which life was experienced. Relatedly, pilgrimage to Kôyasan over the course of the eleventh and twelfth centuries was intimately connected to the sacred myths that were recited both on the mountain and in the capital. Through several different case studies, this dissertation examines the complex interplay between sacred myths about Kôyasan and the religious practices of pilgrims who themselves ventured to the mountain or who sent someone else to this numinous peak in their place. Stories about the mountain inspired pilgrims to travel to this peak and conduct ceremonies in places on the mountain that had been sacralized in such myths. The pilgrims then wrote about their own pilgrimages, encouraging others to encounter the wondrous marvels at Kôyasan. One major contention of this dissertation is that the complex interaction between these stories and related religious practices lay at the heart of the Kôyasan cult. Understanding the intersection of stories and religious practice at Kôyasan enables us to better comprehend the localized nature of religious life in late Heian Japan.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Religion

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