Mythological Japan : the symbolisms of mythology in relation to Japanese art

Oct 22, 2012 by

Mythological Japan : the symbolisms of mythology in relation to Japanese art by Alexander Otto was originally published in 1902.  This book is a must have for collectors of Japanese Art.

A few paragraphs for you from the book:

The Cherry Tree.
The Japanese have long regarded their beloved Cherry as the symbol of patriotism. Happy, indeed, a people with so delightful an incentive to loyalty as the unobtrusively fragrant, pink and rose-like blossom of the Cherry tree ! Their artists delight to show it with the pheasant, whose brilliant plumage harmonizes so faultlessly with the Cherry bloom. In fact, all Japan unites in doing homage to this, its ” King of Flowers,” wherever the magnificent groves of Cherry trees are to be found ; for they are cultivated for their blossoming features alone. The most famous Cherry grove is Yoshina, with its thousand or more trees, then comes the garden of Ugeno, for three centuries the pleasure ground of the people of Tokio, where the exquisite blossom-glow of white and pink recalls one of Nature’s loveliest sunsets. Tokio itself has won renown as the ” City of Cherry Blossoms”; row after row of trees have been planted with mathematical precision, and their laden boughs form an inspiring sight. When the breezes play wild havoc with the blossoms, and all the air is filled with fragrant petals, it seems as though glad Spring had forgotten its mission and that Winter had bestowed, with prodigal hand, a storm of snow-flakes on the land.

Kwannon (The Goddess of Mercy)
The deity known as Kwannon, sometimes represented as a male, though more often as a female, is the personification, both in China and Japan, of Mother Nature, or the Beginning, being variously known as the Downlooking Sovereign, the Eleven Faced Kwannon, and the Thousand Handed Goddess — in the latter conception her many hands are extended in the act of granting bounties to all supplicants, while her sweet and gentle features betray great affection for mankind. Of course she is beloved by all ; thousands of her shrines may be found in Japan alone, the most famous being that of Asakusa Temple, which is daily besieged by throngs of her adherents. The shrine at Kiomidzu Temple figures next in prominence, owing, no doubt, to its historic and legendary associations. Collections the world over are enriched with interesting specimens of this deity; the Kwannon and Child, reproduced on page 63 of the present volume, being an exceptionally rare conception.



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