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Fields of Anthropology (An Introduction)
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Meet Lily!

*Underneath is a ref sheet but it has (non-provocative) partial nudity. Proceed at your own risk*

This might remind you of a VERY old OC of mine of when I first created my Tumblr account. To be straightforward: I don’t like that OC. The whole design was bad in my opinion and I’m 99% sure I’m not going to bring her up again. RIP Chumani. 

But without further ado, a brief intro to Lily!

Lily has a relatively strong soul. That doesn’t mean she isn’t sensitive; she cries when she’s hurt and just one word from a loved one to bring her to her knees. But she always seems to get back up again. Lily is kind, shy, and quiet mostly, but once she starts talking, she’s has a tendency to be a chatterbox. It doesn’t have to be about anything really important. Half of the time, they’re a bit silly. Like which is better: cake or pie? What’s interesting is she’ll have full on discussions with whosever interested like it’s important. The more nervous or excited, the faster she’ll talk. She’s dreaming of becoming a chef, so she wants to taste a bit of everything! But Sicilian-Italian are a sort of comfort foods from childhood so she mostly resorts to those flavors. So far, her favorites are Italian Wedding Soup, Sicilian rice balls, lasagna, Oreos, and southern sweet tea. She carries a tiny backpack all the time to hold all her stuff. Which is usually her phone, her wallet, breath mints, Chapstick, perfume, animal crackers, and a reusable bottle filled with sweet tea. She’s always hungry. 

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A bit of March2nd history…

1836 - Republic of Texas declares its independence from Mexico

1877 - US Electoral Commission declares Hayes winner of the presidential election with an electoral vote of 185-184 against Tilden

1888 - The Convention of Constantinople signed, guaranteeing free maritime passage through Suez Canal during war and peace

1965 - “The Sound of Music” is released (pictured)

1974 - Grand jury concludes US President Nixon is involved in Watergate cover-up

1983 - Compact Disc (CD) recordings introduced

2014 - President Vladimir Putin receives unanimous approval from Russia’s parliament to send troops to the Ukraine

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Hashihime - 橋姫

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Hashihime are goddesses that inhabit long old bridges. They can take various forms, however, they are commonly depicted wearing white robes, white face-paint, an iron trivet, and carrying five candles. This is a ceremonial outfit used to perform curses. Hashihime are fiercely jealous and extremely protective of their bridges. If someone praises another bridge or speaks of womanly wrath while on a Hashihime’s bridge something terrible will most likely happen to them. Despite their fearsome nature Hashihime are commonly worshiped in Japan and often have shrines next to their bridges. During wartime the Hashihime will be asked to protect the bridge against invaders. During times of peace Hashihime become goddesses of separation and severing. As such, they are commonly asked to assist in break-ups, divorce, and severing of bad luck. The Hashihime’s power of separation is so powerful that it is considered taboo for a newlywed couple to cross a bridge inhabited by a Hashihime, rather they cross the river by boat underneath the bridge.

Art found here: https://www.newgrounds.com/art/view/ibdinosaur/warmup-hashihime-the-lady-of-the-bridge

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“I was interested in the story of Ōnamazu, a giant catfish said to live beneath the islands of Japan, whose head is located about fifty-three miles northeast of Tokyo at a place called Kashima. The catfish is pinned into place by the Shintō god Takemikazuchi, but when the god dozes off or becomes distracted by a cup of sake, the catfish moves, the ground trembles, and the ocean occasionally revolts in the form of a tsunami. Today there is still a shrine at Kashima, and the tip of Takemikazuchi’s pole protrudes out of the earth.

I went to see the sacred spear and wrote about it for a magazine, but the story was rejected. It was too weird and too specific and too hard to relate to, the editor said, and in the end I wrote the classically digestible story that Asian women are often asked to write, about my relationship with my mother and the natural Japanese landscapes in my illustrated childhood journals…

In the years that followed, when I mentioned the catfish and the shrine I was often asked by Westerners, ‘Do modern-day Japanese believe in the catfish?’ It’s true the mascot for the Japanese earthquake warning system is a cartoon catfish. Once, when I was visiting Japan, a bullet train I was riding stopped completely and the lights went out. Around me in the dark — we were in a tunnel — cell phones lit up with little gleaming catfish logos, and people whispered, ’Jishin da.’ 'It is an earthquake.’ A moment later, our voyage continued.

But no, I am not sure the Japanese ever 'believed’ in a giant catfish under the earth in the way that people — and by this I mean Western people — mean when they ask the question.

So while I don’t actually know anyone in Japan who would believe in the great catfish, I do know many who might visit the shrine and pay their respects to Takemikazuchi, who pins the catfish to the earth’s core. They would do this, and they would also be grateful for the modern design of Tokyo skyscrapers that allows buildings to sway safely — 'like a ship,’ an attendant in a hotel once said to me cheerfully, as we looked out the window of my twenty-third-floor room in Tokyo. They would pray to the god Takemikazuchi not because they actually believe that he exists but because to do so puts them in the habit and the mindset of focusing on the earth and disaster, and on planning to keep each other safe.

Would that we, too, could see ourselves as participating in a story in which caring for the earth is not only desirable but also possible…

Ōnamazu, the giant catfish, became particularly popular as a subject for woodblock print artists after the Ansei earthquake in 1855, which was exceptionally cruel to the city of Edo, the old name for modern-day Tokyo. In some of the prints, he’s crying as he is scolded by humans who have lost their homes due to his subterranean twitching. In some cases, Takemikazuchi is removed from his powerful position and replaced by Amaterasu — the sun goddess, whose radiant power would be so inspiring to Japan’s fascist movement three generations later. In yet other prints, merchants and carpenters rejoice because the wide-scale destruction of Edo has brought them wealth in the form of new contracts for construction.

The catfish Ōnamazu is thus a troublemaker, but also a great equalizer. 'In the larger scheme of things,’ writes the scholar Gregory Smits, 'many residents of Edo regarded the Ansei earthquake as a purposeful attempt by the cosmic forces to rectify a society out of balance.’ Given that Ōnamazu played a part in this 'equalizing,’ should we see him as good or bad?

Recently, I taught a class to my MFA students on Japanese story structure. We began with fairy tales and children’s stories, then read English translations of contemporary novels. I explained that Judeo-Christian notions of evil aren’t generally present in these books the way they are in the West. Ōnamazu is part of this framework and shouldn’t be considered some leviathan we need to kill in order to put an end to earthquakes. I would write that his power is 'dual,’ except even to use that word would be incorrect. His power is multifaceted, and therefore to think of stopping or conquering him would be the wrong way to relate to the catfish altogether. It is this multifaceted quality that can feel weird to Westerners visiting a sacred space in Japan. I mean, what exactly is happening at Kashima Shrine?…

Sometimes when I talk to audiences about the differences between Japanese and Western fairy tales, someone — usually a mother — will ask me, 'How do you keep your child from being scared?’… [Today] I say, 'You don’t.’ Because I am now very clear: disaster is endemic to the structure of the world in which we live.

Things should scare us…

The ghosts are there, the thirteen [Japanese] words [for] nature are there, the giant catfish is still there — not because the people who conjured them lack intellect, but because these things are wisdom. To paraphrase the writer Bruno Latour, we have never been modern people who escaped nature and our human nature.

It is true that we need a new framework for stories — one that can amplify our imaginations and teach us how to relate to one another and the natural world so that we might, going forward, avoid the superfires which have caused and will no doubt continue to cause severe destruction.

We train ourselves to 'wipe out’ plagues and 'defeat’ enemies. But assuaging the metaphoric giant catfish will require us to do more than think in polar opposites. It is less the relationship with 'ancient Japan’ from which I think we need to borrow — less the animism of Shintō — and more the flexibility that gave rise to the animism in the first place. Envisioning Ōnamazu will require us to be adaptable, to find the part of our imagination that can go from one to thirteen. We will need to look again at the stories that have long been with us and long been around us to begin to fashion new ones. We will need not only new stories but perhaps also new words to build those stories that will allow us to see the world again.”

- Marie Mutsuki Mockett, from “Thirteen to One: New Stories for an Age of Disaster

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Ego is a structure that is erected by a neurotic individual who is a member of a neurotic culture against the facts of the matter.

Culture, which we put on like an overcoat, is the collectivized consensus about what sort of neurotic behaviors are acceptable.

– Terrence McKenna

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Life and Death: Honouring Ancestors Through Masks

Life and Death: Honouring Ancestors Through Masks

Life and Death: Honouring Ancestors Through Masks
 
Honouring ancestors have always been part of any culture or tribe. While there are various ceremonies and rituals performed to honour the dead, these rituals have one thing in common: masks. Different tribes create different masks to allude to various notions: living beings, God or ancestors. Each mask tells its own story through the vivid…


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Neanderthal woman’s walk of love some 90,000 years ago between two caves 106 km apart
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As you walk around the exterior of Hathors Temple at the Dendera Temple Complex, you might notice the megalithic foundation of the complex. The random shape and large size of the stones would have made for some interesting quarrying and construction methods. The stones fit together without mortar like a perfect puzzle. You can find this mortarless construction all around Old Kingdom Egypt, you can also find almost exact construction at sites around the world such as Saqsaywaman in Peru. Why would the oldest of our civilizations choose to work with stones in such a way? Was is easy for them? Did they have knowledge that random patterns give more strength to the structure then identical blocks? So many questions!

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El mecanismo; híbrido, cognitivo, social, simbólico, instrumental, conceptual.

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A bit of March 1st history…

752 BC - Romulus, 1st king of Rome, celebrates the 1st Roman triumph after his victory over the Caeninenses, following the Rape of the Sabine Women (pictured)

1781 - Continental Congress officially adopts the Articles of Confederation, the 1st constitution of the USA

1870 - War of the Triple Alliance finally ends with the Battle of Cerra Cora and the death of Paraguayan Dictator Lopez after 5 years of bloodshed between Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay

1872 - Yellowstone becomes world’s 1st national park

1896 - Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity

1932 - The “Lindbergh Kidnapping”, 20 month old son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh kidnapped from home in NJ; found dead 12 May

1954 - US explodes Castle Bravo, a 15 megaton hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll, which accidentally became the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the US

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Koma Inu - 狛犬

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The Koma Inu are holy animals employed as guardians of ancient sites. Due to their appearance and name the English translation for the title of this Yokai is “lion dog”. Koma Inu came to Japan from Korea, which came from China, which originated in India. Originally Koma Inu were considered protectors of Buddhist temples, however, over time they shifted to Shinto shrines. Koma Inu are found in male and female pairs one with a open mouth and one closed. The female usually guards those living inside, while the male guards the structure itself. The open mouth is meant to be forming the sound あ (a), while the closed mouth is forming the sound うん (un). Combined, they form the word a-un, the Japanese rendition of the Indian word (om). Which was a word that originated in Hinduism and was adopted by Buddhism. The meaning of (om) is sometimes described as the name of god or the sound of the vibration of the universe.

Image found here: http://yabai.com/p/3322

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