Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yōkai

Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yōkai

Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yōkai

Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yōkai

Synopsis

This volume makes available a remarkable body of writings, the only indigenous account of early nineteenth-century California. Written by Pablo Tac, this work on Luiseño language and culture offers a new approach to understanding California's colonial history. Born and raised at Mission San Luis Rey, near San Diego, Pablo Tac became an international scholar. He traveled to Rome, where he studied Latin and other subjects, and produced these historical writings for the Vatican Librarian Cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti. In this multifaceted volume, Pablo Tac's study is published in the original languages and in English translation. Lisbeth Haas introduces Pablo Tac's life and the significance of the record he left. She situates his writing among that of other indigenous scholars, and elaborates on its poetic quality. Luiseño artist James Luna considers Tac's contemporary significance in a series of artworks that bring Pablo Tac into provocative juxtaposition with the present day.

Transcribed by Marta Eguéa, Cecilia Palmeiro, Laura León Llerena, Jussara Quadros, and Heidi Morse, with facing-page translation by Jaime Cortez, Guillermo Delgado, Gildas Hamel, Karl Kottman, Heidi Morse, and Rose Vekony

Excerpt

MYSTERIOUS BODIES

The bones were found in May 2000, in the small town of Yoshii in Okayama Prefecture. News of the discovery, according to one weekly magazine, “set off tremors throughout Japan.” The skeleton was taken to a university to determine whether it really belonged to a tsuchinoko, a legendary reptilelike creature the existence of which had never been scientifically confirmed. After thoroughly examining the specimen, a professor of biology declared that the remains were not those of a tsuchinoko but rather of a malformed grass snake. This disappointing news did not dampen spirits in Yoshii. In fact, stimulated by the near-discovery, the town was experiencing a “tsuchinoko boom.” A giant statue of the fantastic beast was set up at a neighborhood nursery school, local manufacturers began producing tsuchinoko wine and bean cakes, and a reward was offered for anybody who could actually find one of the elusive creatures.

Meanwhile, at a major government-sponsored research institute in Kyoto, an interdisciplinary group of scholars had begun a series of bimonthly workshops to discuss Japan’s culture of mysterious creatures, spooky tales, and strange phenomena. Participants came from academic fields such as literature, folklore, anthropology, history, geography, religion, and art. Along with several collections of articles, one result of these meetings was the establishment of a computer database with more than . . .

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