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Female Shinto spirit

Enlarge this image. Female Shinto spirit, Heian period (794–1185) or Kamakura period (1185–1333), approx. 1100–1200. Japan. Wood with traces of pigment. Courtesy of the Asian Art Museum, Transfer from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of Mrs. Herbert Fleishacker, B69S36.
This figure represents a Shinto goddess; her name is not known. She is depicted as an aristocratic woman, dressed in a thick kimono-like garment. Shinto images like this one were not meant to be seen but were kept hidden in movable cabinets in a special part of shrines, where they were privately worshiped. Since ancient times, the Japanese worshiped spirits (kami) who were believed to exist abundantly in such forms of the natural world as mountains, rocks, waterfalls, and trees. As such, they were not depicted in human form, male or female. It was only in the ninth century, under the strong influence of Buddhist image-making, kami began to be depicted in human form.

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  • leaf orange style avatar for user Jeff Kelman
    Shinto is awesome! Is it acceptable for non-Japanese people to practice Shinto?
    (7 votes)
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  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user ner2
    why did they worship it in private and not with other people?
    (2 votes)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user Laura
    Tell me more about the influence of Buddhist image-making. Is she actually supposed to be a Kami?
    (1 vote)
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    • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Tetsu
      Before Buddhism's influence, the kami would not be depicted at all, however with the influx of Buddhist icons, imagery, and statues, it became more acceptable to depict a kami in a human form. The style is very much similar to Buddhist sculpture of the time in Japan. One clue that distinguishes Buddhist from Shinto statues are the clothes and hairstyles however, this is uniquely Japanese, whereas in Buddhist statues you may see styles from the Asian mainland, as from India or China.
      (3 votes)
  • starky tree style avatar for user Raven Brodsky
    I like that Shinto seems so flexible. Is it true that many Shinto followers in Japan have no issue also identifying as Buddhist (if they identify with a religion at all)?
    (1 vote)
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    • male robot hal style avatar for user Kaylee Dalton
      it is true. for quite a long time after Buddhism was introduced in japan, they combined it with Shintoism. The religions don't clash in any way because Shintoism is about nature spirits and Buddhism is about being at peace with your surroundings and becoming like Buddha.
      (2 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user demarionrhodes
    who was the female shinto spirit creater
    (1 vote)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user mattias.froyshov
    How can we know that she is a godess or kami, as opposed to being a statue of a person like maybe a queen?
    (1 vote)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Mamudul
    Who would seen this type of shinto artwork?
    (1 vote)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Edge (aka Dr. Rennie of Vulf) Bourret
    Why were certain Shinto images kept hidden away from most people in portable cabinets?
    (1 vote)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user danh.tran-13696
    How can people know the goddess name.
    (1 vote)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Diana Milla
    Why doesn't she have a name?
    (0 votes)
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    • primosaur sapling style avatar for user Barbora Šmirinová
      It is a very old sculpture. There is a possibility that she did have a name, but it was lost and forgotten with the time. However, there is also a possibility that she might not have had just one or a single specific name. As she is said to represent a Shinto spirit, the name might have been connected either to a general or specific deity or a specific shrine or almost anything else related.
      (1 vote)