Mythology

Task 1

The first task of this set of sessions was to research about our choice of 3 different cultural myths. My 3 choices was Japanese mythology, Native american, and Chinese myths. I only chose these as I already have an interest in Far Asian culture, and the native american culture is also an interest of mine due to the spiritual backgrounds of different tribes. Here is each myth I found for each of the cultures.

Japan has a lot of different myths that span throughout the whole of Japan. Izanami (‘she who invites’) and Izanagi (‘he who invites’) are the primordial gods of the Shinto religion who are believed to have created the islands of Japan and given birth to many of the other Shinto gods or kami. The first island to be created was Onogoro-shima and the gods immediately used the island to build a house and host their wedding ceremony. The ritual involved circling around a pillar (or in some versions the spear) with the two gods moving in opposite directions. However, during this sacred marriage ritual Izanami wrongly spoke first when they passed each other and as a consequence of this impiety their first child was a miscarriage and born an ugly weakling without bones. This was the god Hiruko (later Ebisu) who would become the patron of fishermen and one of the seven gods of good luck. Hiruko was abandoned by his parents and set in a basket for the sea to take it where it would. The second child was the island of Awa but Izanami and Izanagi were still not satisfied with their offspring and they asked their parents the seven invisible gods the reason for their misfortune. Revealing that the reason was their incorrect performance of the marriage ritual, the couple repeated the ceremony, this time making sure Izanagi spoke first.

Native American cultures are rich in myths and legends that explain natural phenomena and the relationship between humans and the spirit world. According to Barre Toelken, feathers, beadwork, dance steps and music, the events in a story, the shape of a dwelling, or items of traditional food can be viewed as icons of cultural meaning. Christopher Columbus, as a hero and symbol, is an important figure in the pantheon of American myth. His status, not unlike most American icons, is representative not of his own accomplishments, but the self-perception of the society which chose him as a hero. Having effected a separation from England and its cultural icons, America was left without history—or heroes on which to base a shared sense of their social selves. Washington Irving was instrumental in popularizing Columbus. His version of Columbus’ life, published in 1829, was more a romance than a biography. The book was very popular, and contributed to an image of the discoverer as a solitary individual who challenged the unknown sea, as triumphant Americans contemplated the dangers and promise of their own wilderness frontier. As a consequence of his vision and audacity, there was now a land free from kings, a vast continent for new beginnings. In the years following the Revolution the poetic device “Columbia” was used as a symbol of both Columbus and America. King’s College of New York changed its name in 1792 to Columbia, and the new capitol in Washington was subtitled District of Columbia.

The dozens of ethnic minority groups of the country of China have their own languages and their own folklore, and many have their own writing, so myth are not carried over the whole of China in general. Jie, the last king of the Xia dynasty, was supposedly a bloodthirsty despot. Tribal leader Tang of Shang revolted against Xia rule and eventually overthrew Jie, establishing the Shang dynasty, based in Anyang. Book 5 of the philosopher Mozi described the end of the Xia dynasty and the beginning of the Shang. During the reign of King Jie of Xia, there was a great climatic change. Legends hold that the paths of the sun and moon changed, the seasons became confused, and the five grains dried up. Ghouls cried in the country and cranes shrieked for ten nights. Heaven ordered Shang Tang to receive the heavenly commission from the Xia dynasty, which had failed morally and which Heaven was determined to end. Shang Tang was commanded to destroy Xia with the promise of Heaven’s help. In the dark, Heaven destroyed the fortress’ pool, and Shang Tang then gained victory easily. The Shang dynasty ruled from c. 1766 BC to c. 1050 BC. It came to an end when the last despotic ruler, Zhou of Shang, was overthrown by the new Zhou dynasty. The end of the Shang dynasty and the establishment of the Zhou is the subject of the influential mythological fiction Investiture of the Gods.

Task 2

In this task, we had to use different parts from each of the myths we discovered and put them into our own mythological story. The things that I thought were a good idea to carry over was the name of the Japanese God ‘Izanagi’, the time of the Chinese myth ‘1766 BC’ and the fact that Columbus was a great adventurer. By keeping the information I carried over quite broad-minded, it allowed me to still use a lot of my imagination to compose my own story, without being too held back by the parts from the other cultural myths. One of the troubles I came across was trying to figure out the times / years that different sections of the story were set in, as I had to make sure it all added up with the protagonists age. If i could change anything about how I went about completing this task, I would probably change the story a little bit, as I think the whole idea could benefit from using a few more facts from that era of Japan / Asia. I left the story on quite a bit of cliffhanger, as it lets me / the reader think about how it could progress, and I feel it creates more interest in what will happen. After finishing the piece, we were asked to highlight at least 6 different sections of importance, so that we could later create a graphic narrative to go with the story we created. Below is the story I composed for my cultural mythology and it is called ‘The Story of Izanagi’. I highlighted the sections for task 3 in bold.

Izanagi is a Japanese samurai who was born on the island of Shikoku, Japan, ​1766 BC. He was raised by his mother and never got to see his farther after the age of 2, so only has a vague memory of his deep, prosperous voice. Izanagi was always reserved, but he was kind at heart and never liked to see people hurt others for no good reason. He never had much when he was younger and didn’t long for anything other then for his mother to be content. When the young boy reached 14 years, he took an avid interest in martial arts and aimed to be a samurai warrior when he grew. By 1782 BC, Izanagi was reaching as far as he could without a master. By this time, he had a complex for wanting to be the best, protect everyone and wouldn’t settle for anything less. In the year of 1783 BC, the whole of Japan was suddenly covered by a crimson red sky, pure with hate and despair, blocking out all hope that ever was or will be, for most people. Word quickly spread around all of the islands, that the God of light and hope – Amaterasu was held captive and her effects on the world were taken away by a new name, ​Takeshi Jie. 

Takeshi is a prince who had a Chinese father, and a Japanese mother. Both of his parents are no longer alive as they were murdered by rogue samurai on a dark night of 1768 BC. The young prince wasn’t any normal human, his father was Chiyou – the Chinese God of war, and so making Takeshi a demigod. Unfortunately, he longed for vengeance for his mother and father, and wouldn’t stop at anything to get what he wanted. Unlike Izanagi, Takeshi wouldn’t blink twice at harming another to fulfill his self proclaimed prophesy. Energy could be manipulated by Takeshi, which was incredibly powerful, especially for a demigod. He used this to his advantage, the rogue samurai could never be found again, this was known by Takeshi. So, he aimed to punish the whole of Japan to get what he wanted.

Everybody knew that Hokkaido, the Northern island of Japan, was home to the best masters of martial arts. When Izanagi turned 17 years, on his birthday, he made a crucial decision to save everyone of Japan from this pain and suffering. He ventured out to discover his own way to the Hokkaido Island, leaving his mother and all he knew behind. The 17 year old’s first task, was to learn how to survive in the wild, he would be out there for a long time on his journey. The first night wasn’t pleasant for him in the slightest, the blood-pool of red above him haunted him and caused horrible nightmares. This happened every night for days on end, until one night, he noticed a glimmer far off in the distant sky. It resembled a pure true diamond, but he could feel that is was filled with hope and light, Izanagi knew it was the Goddess.

Izanagi was enlightened on what he had to do: Travel to Hokkaido, Find the best master he could, become an unstoppable force, and save the Goddess from the grasp of Takeshi Jie. Along his journey North, he met many selfless villagers, drained by the never-ending deep red sky, that gave him knowledge and supplies. Each village he climbed through, Izanagi left a glimmer of hope in each and every individual he spoke to. By the time the young adventurer was 19, he wasn’t far from his destination, and his determination was wavering with the long nights and the struggled days. Just reaching the border of Honshu, Izanagi wanted to stay over the night there, before he boarded the raft to Hokkaido. That night, he heard a familiar voice as he was falling asleep, ‘You have more power than you realise, young son.’ Izanagi, drifted into a deep sleep.

Task 3

In this task, we had to create the graphic narrative to go along with the mythological-based story. I chose 7 specific instances where I thought a graphical representation would be beneficial. If I could change anything about my narrative, it would be that I set it out in spaced out boxes so that it is clear in which order the drawings go. Spring them out in boxes would also all for a short sentence or two explaining what is going on in the above image. Below is the graphic narrative for the story I created.

IMG_0317

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