Herman Ooms - Professor, History Department, University of California at Los Angeles
Political ideology in ancient Japan was not limited to divine imperial ancestry as spelled out in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki. Mytho-history constituted only one phase or layer of multiple ways of symbolizing Yamato’s new ruling authority; and vertical sacralization was only half of its message. Posthumous names for rulers also reveal alternate, patterned ways in which individual reigns were conceived and represented. Daoist symbols were used; some rulers presented themselves as servants of the Buddha. Finally, the new palace-cities of Fujiwara-kyō and Heijō-kyō were designed to give spatial expression to the nature of politico-religious rule. This paper analyzes the plurality of these symbolics centered on the Tenmu dynasty.