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  • Akiko


I've been working for how people recognise divine presence with sounds in ritual. At the beginning when I started to read references, I didn't doubt at all that all proceeding studies treat instrumental accompaniment of dance (or theatre).

When I first visited to Odaidai ceremony at Kawaguchi Asama jinja shrine in Yamanashi, I noticed that only accompaniment is not sounds in this religious event. Futhermore, at the same time that people make given sound in given moment, people make silence in given moment as well.

Although we are tend to focus on the music or the sounds, the silence is also important. Silence in ritual never happens in random. People know when they have to make it and who have to break it.

In this meaning, officiants power in ritual is represented by sound/silence. They are not only men of unknown religious knowledge, but they also have political power to direct concretely a social event with or without sounds.

The shizume no mai is the danced ritual at the end of hanamatsuri. After all dances on stage in public, it is held only between main officiants. A dancer, which is chief of officiants, make everything. The rest of them are sitting behind of him, and just watching him (except they sometimes greet to the altar, or they crap hands).

In this ritual, the silence speaks concrete word. The officiant speaks in his mind or make some shamanic gesture (below) with their hand to make magic. (Each sign has meaning but I'll show you later in another article.)

Once you understand that music accompaniment is only sound expression of divine or religious concept, the dance performance changes its meaning.

In almost all kagura, we can never know its choreographer. But the person existed certainly. Before he created one choreography, he already got a concept to put in as meaning of dance. Sometimes, the shamanic or religious meaning is in the word. This is sometimes pronounced, recited, spoken, or sung. This is sometimes danced. And sometimes, this is expressed by keeping silence.

So that one concept can be expressed, you need three elements: body gesture, voice, or silence.

(I don't have no conclusion, no logical explaining about that. It is in preparation...)

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