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Book: The Religious Body Imagined

Chapter: 11. Political and Social Functions of Japanese ‘Buddhist’ Goddesses

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.39655


This paper highlights some of the major female deities in the hybrid Indo-Sino-Japanese Buddhist pantheon who derive from non-Buddhist goddess traditions in Asia. By historically tracing the genealogies of some key female exemplars, and by showcasing their political and social roles, this chapter focuses scholarly attention on, and analyzes critically, the varied yet ubiquitous roles that the mythic female has played in the Japanese state throughout history.

Chapter Contributors

  • Pamela Winfield ( - pwinfield) 'Elon University'