Feng Shui Symbolism in Japan: The Four Divine Beasts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Abstract

This paper presents a discussion of the appearance and context of feng shui symbolism in Japan. Attention is focused on the four divine beasts and their associated symbolism from their initial appearance on the Japanese archipelago until the ninth century and from the mid-nineteenth century until the present day, in an attempt to show how this symbolism became fully assimilated to the point that it appeared in (early) modern times in contexts no longer consciously associated with “original,” foreign practices or was fully absorbed into contexts that are deemed quintessentially Japanese.
By doing so, I would like to argue that the four directional animals preserved their role of “multivalent signs,” susceptible to many applications, interpretations, meanings and values. As symbols, visual depictions of underlying concepts, the four divine beasts adapted to (or, better still, were appropriated by) changing circumstances and ideologies to appear in new and entirely different contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheory and Reality of Feng Shui in Architecture and Landscape Art
Subtitle of host publicationAsien- Und Afrika-studien Der Humboldt-universitat Zu Berlin
EditorsFlorian Reiter
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherHumboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Pages35–48
Volume41
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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Japan
Beast
Feng Shui
Early Modern Times
9th Century
Ideology
Animals
Symbol

Cite this

Van Goethem, E. E. M. A. (2013). Feng Shui Symbolism in Japan: The Four Divine Beasts. In F. Reiter (Ed.), Theory and Reality of Feng Shui in Architecture and Landscape Art : Asien- Und Afrika-studien Der Humboldt-universitat Zu Berlin (Vol. 41, pp. 35–48). Berlin: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Feng Shui Symbolism in Japan: The Four Divine Beasts. / Van Goethem, Ellen Elza Melina Albert.

Theory and Reality of Feng Shui in Architecture and Landscape Art : Asien- Und Afrika-studien Der Humboldt-universitat Zu Berlin. ed. / Florian Reiter. Vol. 41 Berlin : Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2013. p. 35–48.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Van Goethem, EEMA 2013, Feng Shui Symbolism in Japan: The Four Divine Beasts. in F Reiter (ed.), Theory and Reality of Feng Shui in Architecture and Landscape Art : Asien- Und Afrika-studien Der Humboldt-universitat Zu Berlin. vol. 41, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, pp. 35–48.
Van Goethem EEMA. Feng Shui Symbolism in Japan: The Four Divine Beasts. In Reiter F, editor, Theory and Reality of Feng Shui in Architecture and Landscape Art : Asien- Und Afrika-studien Der Humboldt-universitat Zu Berlin. Vol. 41. Berlin: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. 2013. p. 35–48
Van Goethem, Ellen Elza Melina Albert. / Feng Shui Symbolism in Japan: The Four Divine Beasts. Theory and Reality of Feng Shui in Architecture and Landscape Art : Asien- Und Afrika-studien Der Humboldt-universitat Zu Berlin. editor / Florian Reiter. Vol. 41 Berlin : Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2013. pp. 35–48
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