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Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient JapanThe Tenmu Dynasty, 650-800$
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Herman Ooms

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832353

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832353.001.0001

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(p.28) 2 Mythemes
Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan

Herman Ooms

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter studies the Japanese mytheme of divine emperorship. As a rule, power becomes accepted only when sacralized. Indeed, rulership without religious sanction is power without legitimacy. It is not that some cultures sacralize authority and others don't; all do somehow and often in similar ways. In the fifth century, for instance, Koguryŏ kings appealed to Heaven and the Sun, as Yamato kings did later. The differences between traditions called upon for conjuring up an enchanted world for political power can be reduced to a question of modality, as a matter of what sort of symbolics is put to the task of such a world-making enterprise.

Keywords:   Japanese mytheme, divine emperorship, Koguryŏ kings, Yamato kings, political power

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