A Star God is Born: Chintaku Reifujin Talismans in Japanese Religions

Speaker: Sujung Kim
Venue: Hosted via Zoom
Date & Time:
2021-12-1 | 19:00-20:30 (Shanghai)
2021-12-1 | 20:00-21:30 (Seoul)
2021-12-1 | 6:00-7:30 (New York)
2021-12-1 | 15:00-16:30 (Abu Dhabi)

The talk examines talismanic culture in Japanese religions through the case of the Chintaku reifu 鎮宅霊符 (“numinous talismans for the stabilization of residences”). Whereas previous scholarship viewed the set of seventy-two talismans as having an ancient Korean origin or connection to the Onmyōdō 陰陽道 tradition in Japan, my analysis of the talismans suggests that they arrived to Japan directly from Ming China (1368–1644) around the late Muromachi period (1336–1573). Once introduced, the talismans were widely adopted across different religious traditions such as Buddhism, Shinto, Confucianism, and Shugendō under the name Chintaku reifujin 鎮宅霊符神 (the god of Chintaku reifu talismans) in Japan. Locating the broader transcultural history behind the Chintaku reifu talismans, the talk demonstrates how the talisman operated as a major force that shaped the talismanic culture in medieval Japanese religious landscape.

Sujung Kim is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at DePauw University. Her chief research field is Japanese Buddhism of the medieval period with a focus on transcultural interactions between Japanese and Korean Buddhism. Her interdisciplinary research interests also include Buddhist visual and material culture, as well as performative aspects of Buddhist narratives. After her first monograph, Shinra Myojin and Buddhist Networks of the East Asian “Mediterranean” (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2019), she is currently working on her second book project tentatively titled, Korean Magical Medicine: Buddhist Healing Talismans in Chosŏn Korea, in which she investigates religious, historical, and visual dimensions of healing talismans produced in the Buddhist settings during the Choson period. She has published numerous book chapters and articles on Japanese Buddhism, as well as Korean Buddhism. She is the recipient of the first Mujin Writing Award in 2020 and her second book project is supported by ACLS/Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation. Currently, she is a visiting professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea.

Introduction by Tansen Sen, Professor of History, Director of the Center for Global Asia at NYU Shanghai.



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