Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The Japanese Shinto goddess of joy and happiness, called the Daughter of Heaven and Heaven's Forthright Female. Her name means "whirling". She is also the goddess of good health, which people obtain from drinking the blessed water of her stream. When the sun goddess Amaterasu had hidden herself in a cave, thus covering the earth in darkness and infertility, it was Uzume who brought her back. With her provoking and curlew dances she managed to make the gods laugh so hard, that Amaterasu left the cave intrigued. Her emerging brought light and life back to earth. Her brother Ninigi married Uzume to the deity who guards the Floating Bridge to Heaven. The dances of Uzume (Ama-no-uzume) are found in folk rites, such as the one to wake the dead, the Kagura (dance-mime), and another one which symbolizes the planting of seeds.

Ame-no-Uzume is the Japanese Goddess of merrymaking and dance. She is the one who lured the sun Goddess Amaterasu to come out of her self-imposed exile in a cave, returning sunlight to the world. She overturned a washtub and began to dance on it, to the delight of the surrounding Gods and Goddesses. Their laughter at her antics made Amaterasu curious enough to step out of her cave. Ame-no-Uzume’s dances have been carried down to modern times as the kagura.
Ame-no-Uzume also accompanied Amaterasu’s grandson Ninigi to earth, where he was to become the first emperor of Japan. When he was about to descend, a large monster appeared in his path, so Ninigi sent the fearless Ame-no-Uzume ahead to investigate. She approached the monster with bare breasts and a mocking laugh, asking who he was to stand in Ninigi’s way. He turned out to be Saruta-Hiko, God of the crossroads, and he was only there to welcome Ninigi. Ame-no-Uzume eventually married Saruta-Hiko.

Ame-no-Uzume’s name means “whirling heavenly woman” and is also seen as Uzume, Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, and Ame-no-Uzume-no-Kami. Epithets for her include The Great Persuader, Terrible Female of Heaven, Daughter of Heaven, Heaven’s Forthright Female, and The Heavenly Alarming Female.

From: here
Ame-no-Uzume no Mikoto, “the Terrible Female of Heaven,” is an important Kami in Japanese mythology and is also regarded as the founding ancestor of the Sarume Order. Although she is mentioned but a few times in the chapters of the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters, c. 712 C.E.), she assumes a prominent role in each story in which she appears.

The first mention of Ame-no-Uzume is in the story of Amaterasu Omikami, the Sun Goddess, shutting herself into the rock cave in the 17th chapter of the Kojiki. In order to ensure Amaterasu’s return, the other Kami consulted and worked together to entice her out of hiding. Some Kami prepared to lure her out with beautiful glittering objects which they hung upon the sacred Sakaki tree; while others were ready to prevent the cave door from closing again after she opened it; but all of those plans centered on Uzume. To her fell the task of getting Amaterasu to open her door in the first place. To this end she disrobed and proceeded to perform a lewd and comical dance on an overturned tub. The other Kami joined in with boistrous singing and laughing. The ensuing noise and general carrying-on got Amaterasu to peek out after from the cave, which made it possible for the other Kami to get her to come out and stay (Kojiki 81-85).

Another ancient source, the Nihongi (Chronicles of Japan, 720 CE), offers a slightly different description of Ame-no-Uzume's dance.

Moreover Ama no Uzume no Mikoto, ancestress of the Sarume no Kimi, took in her hand a spear wreathed with Eulalia grass, and standing before the door of the Rock-cave of Heaven, skillfully performed a mimic dance. She took, moreover, the true Sakaki tree of the Heavenly Mount Kagu, and made of it a head-dress, she took club-moss and made of it braces, she kindled fires, she placed a tub bottom upwards, and gave forth a divinely inspired utterance (Nihongi 44).

In both versions, it was as a result of Uzume's wild singing and dancing that Amaterasu emerged from her cave. Thus, the beautiful and life-giving sunlight returned to the world, thanks in large part to Uzume's performance.

Later, Ame-no-Uzume again played a significant role in myths concerning the descent of Ninigi no Mikoto, the August Grandchild of Heaven. According to the narratives, Amaterasu Omikami consulted extensively with her Grandson on how best to accomplish his divinely mandated mission to bring order to the earth and found the imperial line of Japan. Ninigi had many natural endowments and he could rely upon a huge contingent of accompanying deities; nevertheless, he also faced massive and powerful opposition from rebellious terrestrial Kami who resisted the rule of heaven.

When Ninigi was about to descend, a frightening earthly deity appeared to block the intended path. This was an immense creature, with a back extending seven fathoms, a nose the size of seven hand lengths, a colossal mouth, and eyes glowing like fire. Ninigi sent Uzume on ahead to investigate this leviathan, charging her to use the daunting power of her looks to question and subdue him. The fearless goddess accordingly descended and went to Saruta-Hiko: Uzume encounters Saruta-hiko

Ame-no-Uzume forthwith bared her breasts and, pushing down the band of her garment below her navel, confronted him with a mocking laugh. Then the God of the cross-ways [Saruta-Hiko] asked her, saying:

“Ame-no-Uzume! What meanest thou by this behavior?”

She answered and said, “I venture to ask who art thou that dost thus remain in the road by which the child of Amaterasu no Oho-Kami is to make his progress?”

The God of the cross-ways answered and said, “I have heard that the child of Amaterasu no Oho-Kami is now about to descend, and therefore I have come respectfully to meet and attend upon him. My name is Saruta-Hiko no Oho-Kami.” (Nihongi 77)

Thus, it turned out that Saruta-Hiko was not an enemy after all, but would prove to be a valuable guide and aid to Ninigi. Without the courageous intervention of Uzume, however, the heavenly Kami might not have learned this in time to benefit from his help. Satisfied, “the terrible female of heaven” accompanied Saruta-Hiko on the rest of his journey to greet the August Grandchild (Kojiki 137-141).

Uzume was subsequently accorded great honors by Ninigi. Through his authority, she was made the founder and head of the Sarume Order of sacred festival dancers. Concerning this order, W.G. Aston writes: "The Sarume were primarily women who performed comic dances (saru-mahi, or monkey-dances) in honor of the Gods. They are mentioned along with the Nakatomi and Imbe as taking part in the festival of first-fruits and other Shinto ceremonies. These dances were the origin of the Kagura and No performances" (Nihongi 79, footnote).

The final episode involving Ame-no-Uzume in the Kojiki occurred immediately after she returned from accompanying Saruta-Hiko. She gathered all of the fish in the ocean, lakes, and streams together and asked them to swear loyalty to the rule of the heavenly descendants. The only one that didn’t respond positively to this was the sea slug. Uzume, as punishment for its refusal, slit the animal's mouth, which is given as the reason why the sea slug’s mouth is still shaped that way (Kojiki 142-143).

From: here
Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto (天宇受売命, 天鈿女命?) is the goddess of dawn and revelry in the Shinto religion of Japan. She famously relates to the tale of the missing sun deity, Amaterasu Omikami. Her name can also be pronounced as Ama-no-Uzume.

Amaterasu's brother, the storm god Susano'o, had vandalized her sacred buildings and brutally killed one of her maidens due to a quarrel between. In turn, Amaterasu became terrified of his wrath and retreated into the Heavenly Rock Cave, Amano-Iwato. The world, without the illumination of the sun, became dark and the gods could not lure Amaterasu out of her hiding place.

The clever Uzume overturned a tub near the cave entrance and began a dance on it, tearing off her clothing in front of the other deities. They considered this so comical that they laughed heartily at the sight.

Amaterasu heard them, and peered out to see what all the fuss was about. When she opened the cave, she saw her glorious reflection in a mirror which Uzume had placed on a tree, and slowly emerged from her hiding spot.

At that moment, the god Ame-no-Tajikarawo-no-mikoto dashed forth and closed the cave behind her, refusing to budge so that she could no longer retreat. Another god tied a magic shirukume rope across the entrance. The deities Ame-no-Koyane-no-mikoto and Ame-no-Futodama-no-mikoto then asked Amaterasu to rejoin the divine. She agreed, and light was restored to the earth.

Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto is still worshiped today as a Shinto kami, spirits indigenous to Japan. She is also known as Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, The Great Persuader, and The Heavenly Alarming Female. She is depicted in kyogen farce as Okame, a woman who revels in her sensuality.

From: Wiki
Ancient Japan's shaman goddess was the one who lured the sun-goddess Amaterasu from the cave where she'd hidden. She did so by a merry mockery of shamanic ritual. Tying her sleeves above her elbows with moss cords and fastening bells around her wrists, she danced on an overturned tub before the heavenly Sky-Rock-Cave. Tapping out a rhythm with her feet, she exposed her breasts and then her genitals in the direction of the sun. So comic did she make this striptease that the myriad gods and goddesses began to clap and laugh -- an uproar that finally brought the curious sun back to warm the earth.

Shaman women who followed Uzume were called miko in ancient Japan. First queens like Himiko, later they were princesses and even later, commonborn women. Some Japanese women today, especially those called nuru and yata in Okinawa and the surrounding islands, still practice shamanic divination.

From: here
Other Sites:
Some info

Related MW threads with more info on myths, etc:
Amaterasu {Goddess of the Week}
Susanoo {God of the Week}

No comments:

Post a Comment