By Doris G. Bargen
During this sophisticated and hugely unique studying of Murasaki Shikibu's eleventh-century vintage the story of Genji (Genji monogatari), Doris G. Bargen explores the position of owning spirits (mono no ke) from a feminine point of view. in different key episodes of the Genji, Heian noblewomen (or their mediums) tremble, converse in unusual voices, and tear their hair and garments whereas below the spell of mono no ke. For literary critics, Genji, the male protagonist, is critical to choosing the function of those spirits. From this male-centered standpoint, girl jealousy presents a handy reason behind the emergence of mono no ke in the polygynous marital method of the Heian aristocracy. but this traditional view fails take into consideration the work's woman authorship and its mostly girl viewers. depending upon anthropological in addition to literary facts, Doris G. Bargen foregrounds the factors of the possessed personality and found mono no ke in the politics of Heian society, examining spirit ownership as a feminine process followed to counter male thoughts of empowerment. Possessions turn into "performances" via girls trying to redress the stability of strength; they subtly subvert the constitution of domination and considerably regulate the development of gender.
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Extra resources for A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji
Buddhist exorcist rituals allowed mono no ke to reveal themselves and disperse. The evil spirits were immune to prosecution because they, as a rule, belonged to the dead. Thus, unlike persons accused at European and American witchcraft trials, those thought to be the source of mono no ke were not blamed for the harm and pain they caused the possessed. Furthermore, of the Japanese thought to suffer from the afflictions of witchcraft, Carmen Blacker writes: “Only rarely . . ”45 The mildness of the response can be attributed to the belief that neither the spirits of the living (ikisudama; ikiryò) nor the spirits of the dead (shiryò) were thought to form the kind of intentionally evil alliance that the witch forms with the devil.
It is important to realize, however, that in early Japan harmful spirits were not feared to the degree they were in China, where they struck terror in the hearts of people. In pre-Buddhist Japan, faithful observance of the proper rituals was sufficient to preserve or restore harmony. Dutifully acting upon the Shinto imperative to purify pollution and pacify wronged spirits, people were reassured that they exercised a degree of control over the invisible world. 18 A Woman’s Weapon With the arrival of Buddhism in 538, mainland cultural lore about the spirit world greatly complicated indigenous Japanese views.
The [Heian] exorcists were members of the Buddhist clergy. This was normal in the period and represents one of the many anomalies of Heian religious-superstitious practice. Shamanism and the idea of possession by evil spirits formed no part of Buddhist doctrine; and, if logic played any role, we Enter mono no ke 19 should expect Shintoist priests to officiate on occasions of this kind. . 88 The dismissive description of spirit possession as “superstition,” which pervades Morris’ pioneer study, is outdated.
A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji by Doris G. Bargen