The World View of the Ainu: Nature and Cosmos Reading from Language

Takako Yamada
Kegan Paul, 2001 - 233 ページ
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The religion and world view of the Ainu has long attracted attention from researchers not only in Japan but also in Europe and America. However, the meanings of animal and plant deities ( "kamui") -- the core of the Ainu world view and religion -- have not been fully analyzed. This book takes a cognitive anthropological approach in a broader sense, using words as clues. Here, the Ainu world view was defined as a comprehensive cognitive system incorporating nature and the universe. In this sense, this book follows holistic approaches to the Ainu worldview by examining concepts of the universe, soul and gods, animals and plants, and nature based on Ainu words, their symbolic usage, and ethnographical backgrounds. In addition, through the comparison of Ainu worldview with neighboring cultures, particularly ancient Japanese and northern peoples in Siberia, it is shown that the worldview of the Ainu fundamentally differs from those of ancient Japanese, but has many similarities with those of Siberian peoples, particularly hunting peoples. This book thus clarifies that the Ainu world view is based on the complementary and dualistic cosmology of people and "kamui" (god), with animals playing a symbolic role linking religion and ecology, and suggests the coexistence of people with nature.


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Ainu Cosmology
Soul and Kamui
Ainu Nomenclature for Plants

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著者について (2001)

Takako Yamada is currently professor of cultural anthropology at Kyoto University and the author of "An Anthropology of Animism and Shamanism.