Ethnicity, Sagehood, and the Politics of Literacy in the Early Shōtoku Cult
This chapter explores the role of ethnicity and hermeneutic authority in the formation of the conceptions of the sage king (hijiri no kimi) and the sage counselor (sakashihito) in 7th-century Yamato. It focuses on the role of a cluster of immigrant kinship groups associated with the early Shōtoku cult in the dissemination of Chinese historical and divinatory texts over which they claimed unrivalled mastery. Underlying this project are two premises concerning the conception and exercise of power. The first of these is derived from Michel Foucault's dictum that embedded within every system of power is a system of knowledge that both organizes and makes meaningful the formation and use of that power. The chapter examines how the introduction of a system of knowledge—in this case Chinese historical and divinatory classics—produced a host of unforeseen cultic and political consequences at the Yamato court.
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