Kamuy

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"Kamui" redirects here. For other uses, see Kamui (disambiguation).

A kamui (Ainu: カムイ, Japanese: 神威 or 神居, kamui) is a spiritual or divine being in Ainu mythology.

Concept[edit]

In concept, kamui are similar to the Japanese kami, sometimes translated as "god" or "divine spirit", but these translations miss some of the nuances of the term.[1] Kamuy are numerous; some are delineated and named, such as Kamuy Fuchi the hearth goddess, while others are not. Kamuy often have very specific associations, for instance, there is a kamuy of the undertow.[1]

Personified deities of Ainu mythology often have the term Kamuy applied as part of their names.

Oral history[edit]

The Ainu had no writing system of their own, and much of Ainu mythology was passed down as oral history in the form of kamui yukar (deity epics), long verses traditionally recounted by singers at a gathering. Each kamuy yukar recounts a deity's or hero's adventures, usually in the first person, and some of them are of great length, containing as many as 7,000 verses.[2] Some yukar contradict each other, assigning the same events to different deities or heroes; this is primarily a result of the Ainu culture's organization into small, relatively isolated groups.[3] Records of these poems began to be kept only in the late 19th century, by Western missionaries and Japanese ethnographers; however, the Ainu tradition of memorizing the yukar preserved many.

Some notable kamuy[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ashkenazy, Michael. Handbook of Japanese Mythology. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2003. 187-188
  2. ^ Etter, Carl. Ainu Folklore: Traditions and Culture of the Vanishing Aborigines of Japan. Chicago: Wilcox and Follett, 1949. 53
  3. ^ Ashkenazy, Michael. Handbook of Japanese Mythology. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2003. 68

References[edit]

  • Ashkenazy, Michael. Handbook of Japanese Mythology. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2003.
  • Etter, Carl. Ainu Folklore: Traditions and Culture of the Vanishing Aborigines of Japan. Chicago: Wilcox and Follett, 1949.
  • Munro, Neil Gordon. Ainu Creed and Cult. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.