Kevin Wilson: Hachiman Cult Foundation Legends (engi) as Cultural and Social Capital

Friday 12/6/2013,  12:30-1:15 PM,  Waite Phillips Hall 104*

Hachiman Cult Foundation Legends (engi) as Cultural and Social Capital
Kevin Wilson, Ph.D. Candidate, History Department, USC

The Hachiman cult is one of the most ubiquitous and important cults in premodern Japan. In this presentation I will analyze foundation legends (engi) associated with two key centers of Hachiman worship: the shrines at Usa and Iwashimizu. Foundation legends associated with Hachiman have rarely been studied in western scholarship and there has been little consideration as to how these legends function. Through an analysis of the Usa Hachimangū Mirokuji Konryū Engi  (844), Iwashimizu Gokokuji Ryakki (863), along with engi variants found in the Tōdaiji Yōroku (1134) and Hachiman Usagū Gotakusenshū (1313), I will demonstrate how foundation legends functioned as repositories of what Pierre Bourdieu calls “cultural or social capital.” I will also show how I think engi authors manipulated the image of Hachiman ― as well as key figures associated with the establishment of shrine-temple complexes dedicated to Hachiman ― in order to increase the cultural and social capital associated with such engi. This study points not only to the importance of engi in the study of the Hachiman cult but also to the importance of acknowledging changes in foundation legends and to understanding how these changes reflect trends at court and the personal aspirations of engi compilers.