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Hermeneutics of Acrostics: From Kūkai to Tsurayuki


Takeuchi, Lone (2013). Hermeneutics of Acrostics: From Kūkai to Tsurayuki. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 67(1):165-206.

Abstract

This study is an attempt to show how the poetic figure of the acrostic was constructed in ninth-century Japan as a tantric semiological implement in a poetic discourse, in which poets working in Sino-Japanese or kanabun constructed kami cultic ritual in various forms and contexts within the broad framework of Kūkai’s tantric Buddhist semiology. Three poetic texts, a Sino-Japanese poem by Kūkai and two prose-poem texts from Kokin wakashū and/or Ise monogatari, all of which contain an acrostic, are analysed and interpreted, and evidence from several of Kūkai’s expositions on semiology (philosophy of language) and hermeneutics, is adduced in support. The suggestion is that the acrostic was construed as an articulation of Kūkai’s metaphor for the limitlessness of meanings of the mantra syllables, the intersection of vertical and horizontal meanings, which was associated with the experience of nyūga ganyū 入我我入 (Skt. ahaṃkāra).

Abstract

This study is an attempt to show how the poetic figure of the acrostic was constructed in ninth-century Japan as a tantric semiological implement in a poetic discourse, in which poets working in Sino-Japanese or kanabun constructed kami cultic ritual in various forms and contexts within the broad framework of Kūkai’s tantric Buddhist semiology. Three poetic texts, a Sino-Japanese poem by Kūkai and two prose-poem texts from Kokin wakashū and/or Ise monogatari, all of which contain an acrostic, are analysed and interpreted, and evidence from several of Kūkai’s expositions on semiology (philosophy of language) and hermeneutics, is adduced in support. The suggestion is that the acrostic was construed as an articulation of Kūkai’s metaphor for the limitlessness of meanings of the mantra syllables, the intersection of vertical and horizontal meanings, which was associated with the experience of nyūga ganyū 入我我入 (Skt. ahaṃkāra).

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 67 (2013) > 1
Dewey Decimal Classification:180 Ancient, medieval & eastern philosophy
290 Other religions
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:15 Nov 2013 15:43
Last Modified:16 Feb 2018 18:23
Publisher:Schweizerische Asiengesellschaft / Verlag Peter Lang
ISSN:0004-4717
OA Status:Green
Related URLs:http://www.sagw.ch/de/asiengesellschaft/publikationen/Asiatische-Studien.html (Publisher)
http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?vID=86850&vLang=D&vHR=1&vUR=4&vUUR=11 (Publisher)

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