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The Seven Tengu ScrollsEvil and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy in Medieval Japanese Buddhism$
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Haruko Wakabayashi

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834166

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834166.001.0001

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From Malign Spirit to Manifestation of Ma

From Malign Spirit to Manifestation of Ma

(p.3) 1 From Malign Spirit to Manifestation of Ma
The Seven Tengu Scrolls

Haruko Wakabayashi

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines the transformation of tengu from a possessing spirit rooted in indigenous folk beliefs to a symbol of ma that can only be conquered by Buddhist monks. One of the most famous tales of tengu possession concerns the Empress Somedono (829–900), which is found in the Shui ojoden, a collection from 1123. Taking note of several points in this story leads to a better understanding of the nature of tengu in medieval Japan. First, the tengu's ability to possess a person and induce illness identifies it as a mononoke. Second, the tengu that possesses the empress is identified as Shinzei, a renowned Shingon monk. Third, Buddhist monks are summoned to subdue the tengu with esoteric rituals—further evidence of their key role in suppressing tengu and other mononoke.

Keywords:   Tengu, ma, Buddhist monks, Empress Somedono, Shui ojoden, medieval Japan, Shinzei

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