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The Fluid PantheonGods of Medieval Japan, Volume 1$
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Bernard Faure

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824839338

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824839338.001.0001

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(p.317) Coda
The Fluid Pantheon

Bernard Faure

University of Hawai'i Press

Japanese gods are segments of a heterogeneous network composed of myths and rituals, but also of human and divine bodies, objects, institutions, techniques, images, and feelings. Medieval Japanese gods were enmeshed in a tangle of relationships, they did not so much exist as they occurred. In spite of our fixation with stable iconography, they were identified not by attributes or features but by their trajectories, their transformations, their ever-changing stories, the ebb and flow of their efficacy. They constantly overflowed any systematic attempt to hold them accountable. In our attempts to unravel that tangle, that dense interweaving of rituals and stories and the (un)like, we can no longer simply pigeonhole them into taxonomies and hierarchies. The medieval Japanese pantheon was a fluid pantheon, a pantheon in constant flux.

Keywords:   Syncretism, honji suijaku, Shintō and Buddhism, buddhas and kami, triads and ternary structures

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