Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian HistoryMain MenuGet to Know the SiteGuided TourShow Me HowA click-by-click guide to using this siteModulesRead the seventeen spatial stories that make up Bodies and Structures 2.0Tag MapExplore conceptsComplete Grid VisualizationDiscover connectionsGeotagged MapFind materials by geographic locationLensesCreate your own visualizationsWhat We LearnedLearn how multivocal spatial history changed how we approach our researchAboutFind information about contributors and advisory board members, citing this site, image permissions and licensing, and site documentationTroubleshootingA guide to known issuesAcknowledgmentsThank youDavid Ambaras1337d6b66b25164b57abc529e56445d238145277Kate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5fThis project was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
12019-11-27T22:55:36-05:00Evan Dawley7a40080bd5bb656cee837d5befaa3ea8e7a2ac44354This page is where I explore one of the main perspectives operating in the module, which shapes how it can be read.plain2020-07-16T16:37:12-04:00Evan Dawley7a40080bd5bb656cee837d5befaa3ea8e7a2ac44For the most part, I present the information in this module, both the narrative and spatial material, from a god’s-eye perspective that is typical of most historical writing. Historians wade through copious amounts of material, much of it first or second-hand in its origin, in order to understand the past, but when they construct their narratives, they step back and observe from a considerable height, or distance, in order to put all of the pieces together. Although historians do not make claims of omniscience, they are external to the events that they study and are able to encompass a broader contextual range, although less immediate detail, than a participant could see. Readers should be aware that I have combined, condensed, and otherwise interpreted my sources in order to provide a cohesive, although not seamless, explanation of historical change. These points are true of the narrative pages as well as the maps contained therein, which invariably display a god’s-eye view that sees all but does so at a high degree of simplification that obscures—perhaps intentionally—the texture of the everyday, or the person’s-eye view.
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12019-11-27T22:48:25-05:00Evan Dawley7a40080bd5bb656cee837d5befaa3ea8e7a2ac44Scale and PerspectiveEvan Dawley5This page begins a sub-pathway to explore issues of scale and perspective that shape the module and how it can be viewed.plain54002020-02-29T21:03:27-05:00Evan Dawley7a40080bd5bb656cee837d5befaa3ea8e7a2ac44
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1media/QingAn.jpg2020-07-16T16:06:47-04:00Sacred Geography: Constructions and Representations15This page furthers the explanation of sacred geography by exploring how it has been represented and constructed.plain2021-10-04T12:16:37-04:00Evan N. DawleyKaizhang ShengwangMazuKotohiraChenghuang Ye
We cannot map sacred geography, nor can we see it the way that gods see it, bound as we are to the person’s-eye view of the world. [Note that “the way gods see it” is different than the concept of the god's-eye view, as I use it in this module, because the god’s-eye view applies to physical geography.] Nevertheless, there is no shortage of descriptions and representations of what it looks like and how it is organized. According to K.E. Brashier, late imperial Chinese constructed one zone of sacred geography—hell—as “a spectacle, as a display intended for public consumption.” The hell scrolls in this collection vividly depict the punishments meted out on those who misbehaved in their lives on earth, indicating that Chinese representations of sacred geography existed in part to encourage particular forms of behavior among the living. The scrolls also express a key feature of Chinese conceptions of sacred geography: it is a bureaucratic realm, in which deities hold hierarchically-arranged ranks and perform specific functions, like magistrates within the imperial bureaucracy. The paintings show deities as judges reviewing cases, and lesser divinities as functionaries carrying out punishments, mirroring the judicial system of imperial China. Japanese representations of hell, such as this scroll of the realm of the hungry ghosts, also depict an area of sacred geography as a place of suffering from which liberation through proper action is possible.
In both Chinese and Japanese conceptions of sacred geography, divine beings dwelt everywhere. For Japanese, kami imbued all elements of the natural, physical world, whereas for Chinese, certain ancestors retained a sort of numinous presence in the lives of their descendants. Both sets of divinities observed and influenced the day-to-day activities of human beings, yet many had limited ranges of movement and activity. Kami and Chinese deities often had specific links to particular physical locales (see, for example, the geographic origins in China of the deities Kaizhang Shengwang and Mazu; or the territorial links of a kami known as Kotohira), ancestral spirits paid attention only to their descendants, and the bureaucratic Chinese deities could only perform the functions specific to their posts within the pantheon (see, for example, the protective powers of the deity Chenghuang Ye). Therefore, Chinese and Japanese placed boundaries upon sacred geography, and especially around its inhabitants.