mikoshi 神輿
KEY WORD : art history / iconography
Also read shin'yo. Also written 御輿. A palanquin used to transport Shinto deities. A mikoshi was believed to have been first used in 749 to transport Hachiman 八幡 to Toudaiji 東大寺 from Usa Jinguu 宇佐神宮 in Ooita prefecture. Hachiman is a popular Shinto deity of obscure origin who specifically protects warriors but who also protects the community in general. Mikoshi are generally thought to be modelled after Chinese palanquins and were used by the Imperial family and the aristocracy. There are many types but there are two particularly common forms. The first of these has a phoenix *houou 鳳凰 on the roof, while the other is capped with a knob or onion head souka 葱花. Although there are examples extant from the late Heian period, most mikoshi date from the Muromachi period and later. They are used in ceremonies involving the movement of the deity and in many festivals in which a deity is carried through the neighborhood responsible for the shrine.


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