Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Himiko - Real or Imagined?

Asia, Ceremony, Chinese, Dress, CultureIn the most recent Tomb Raiders movie, Lara Croft's dad disappears after going after something to keep Himiko from escaping the tomb she was trapped in.  Supposedly, she could turn people into zombies and she should not be released.

As always my curiosity took over.  Was Himiko a real person or was she created by script writers who wanted a female villain.  Yes, there was a queen in Japan back in the third century.  Long before Japan became a country.

Himiko or Pimpko ruled over Yamatai peacefully for 50 to 60 years once she was crowned high priestess and supreme leader of her land during the first half of the third century.  In order to rule during this time period, you had to convince people you were in the with the gods because religious authority and spiritual authority were linked and female shamans held a special place in society.

Apparently, she was also a shaman but her powers did not include supernatural powers or the ability to trump death.  No one is sure where Yamatai existed but it is thought to be one of the larger Japanese Islands.

According to legend, she never married but had 1000 handmaidens to serve her.  In addition, the only male associated with her, is her brother.  He handled communications, and assorted states of affairs once she decided to pursue her shamanism.  Although researchers believe they found her tomb, they were not allowed to check it out because it was declared a royal site. 

Information on her came from Chinese and Korean histories along with archeological verification. Based on the written information, she sent diplomatic missions to China at least four times during her reign. It is also said that she ruled over 100 countries in addition to performing her religious duties.  At one point, the Chinese Wei Dynasty sent her 100 bronze mirrors which were a status symbol during this time period.

When she died in 248, a guy took the throne but a 13 year old relative of Himiko took the throne from him.  Himiko was buried in a great mound with 100 of her attendants. It is said to be one of the first great mounds ever created.  In 2009, scientists used radio carbon dating to establish a certain mound dated back between 240 and 260 AD or about the same time as her death. The Imperial Household agency designated it as a royal tomb so no excavation can occur. 

She disappeared from history because the 7th century ruling class emulated the Chinese style and that meant you did not mention shamans.  She resurfaced during the Edo period due to the work of two scholars.  At one point, there was a huge argument on whether the Chinese or Japanese records were more accurate.  Since there is very little known about here, certain things have been claimed, such as:

1.  Yoshinogari holds an annual bonfire complete with the appearance of Himiko.

2. A Kyushu brewery released "Himiko Fantasia" shochu in her honor.

3. Sakurai City has a Himiko mascot and features her avatar on line.

4. There are multiple Queen Himiko contests throughout Japan.

5. She has inspired numerous books, anime, manga, films, etc.

She was the first strong female shaman and queen they are aware of.  So if you see the movie, know she is not the evil Queen they claim she is. 

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.