Amaterasu, the sun goddess is a key figure in the Shinto pantheon. She was associated with Kunitokotachi, the supreme deity who resided atop Mount Fuji, and it is possible that they have the one and the same being. She is also believed to be the direct ancestor of the Japanese imperial family.
The most famous story of Amaterasu tells of a falling-out between her and Susanowo, her brother. Susanowo, the storm god had continually bothered his sister with practical jokes and foolish behavior. When he destroyed Amaterasu's rice fields and frightened her maidens to death, she hid from him in a cave, and the radiance of the sun was withdrawn from the world. Susanowo was the banished by his father Izanagi, and forced to rule the oceans. Meanwhile the world grew dismal and evil spirits ran rampant.
The many earth spirits, or "the spirits of the plants" assembled in front of the cave to try to coax the sun goddess out. They brought many gifts and offerings and began to sing and dance. Amaterasu was curious as to why the spirits were celebrating and peeked out of the cave. A young and beautiful goddess named Uzume was dancing nearby and Amaterasu asked the young deity when she was so happy. Uzume said that there was now a more supreme deity than the Sun Goddess. When Amaterasu questioned her as to who this deity might be, Uzume presented a mirror to the sun goddess: Amaterasu then saw her own image. In the meantime some of the other gods had proceeded in blocking the entrance to the cave. Comforted Amaterasu returning to her throne in the heavens. The sun begun to shine again and order returned to the world.
The first emperor of Japan, Jimmu, who ascended the throne in 660BC is believed to have received the Sacred Mirror (now in the shrine of Amaterasu at Ise) directly from his divine ancestress Amaterasu.
Image: Amaterasu emerges from the Cave, casting Her Divine Light on all beings
Friday, March 27, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Australia and Asia have long had close ties. Unfortunately it has not always been without historical issues. Australia is in the Asiatic region but for many years it tried to remain as a white outpost of the British empire and the Australian parliament passed the The Immigration Restriction Act 1901 (IRA 1901). This Acts purpose was to exclude non white populations to remain or settle in Australia.
The Immigration Restriction Act 1901 (IRA 1901) was formed on already established racial views of the white settlers in the 17th century. When the Chinese arrived in the 1800s to work in the Australian goldfields tension went high among the white diggers due to the racial views they had over the Chinese and a call for exclusion of immigrants were created. This exclusion was supported by the common belief that the Asian workers would destabilize the Australian economy, being a source of cheap labour for employers. The Chinese were commonly regarded as being filthy, corrupt, and immoral, which consequently contributed to the society as a whole in a negative manner. To justify such believes Social Darwinism was referred to with the view that all races were subjects to laws of nature and by mixing races, one would contaminate the pure white race which would eventually lead to the destruction of the whole society. It is therefore fair to state that the major factors that influenced the framing of the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 was the already established race relationship between the white and non white population, a fear that immigration would deteriorate the Australian labour market and society, along with the strong political will to keep the society racially white.
Australia has a long tradition of racial prejudice and fear. When British Imperial troops sat foot on Australian shores in late 18th Century and soon after claimed land rights they did so without any concern of the Aboriginal tribes already living there. According to Imperial law, the Aborigines fell out of the category as “users of the land” and Australia was therefore proclaimed Terra Nullius, a land belonging to no one. The Aboriginal tribes were regarded as something belonged to the past and were seen as inferior not only to the British but to the rest of the world’s races. Day explains that it became justified by the British to deprive them any rights of the land, especially as the Aborigines had declined offering of civilization, which was to be interpreted that the Aborigines was unable to become civilized.
Economic factors such as the supply of labour played a major role in the establishment of IRA 1901. Australian labour had first arrived with the shiploads of convicts but as those deliveries declined, contract labourers from the Asiatic countries became sought after and it was not long until the first ship with Chinese labourers arrived in late 1848. With the racial outlook already established the Asian immigrant, predominantly from China who arrived in 1850s faced severe racial prejudice in various forms. There was a strong concern that that a massive influx of Asian immigrants would overflow the continent with cheap labour and undermine the Australian economy. It did not take long before anti-Chinese feelings arose among the white Australian population and as Andrews explain there were fears among the Australian workers that jobs would be lost to cheap Asian labour. Facts were that the Chinese came in great numbers but instead of being seen as a potential asset for Australia they came to be regarded as competitors to the already established white populations. When gold was found in 1851 the Chinese came in larger numbers and by 1855 more than 18000 had arrived to work along side the white diggers.
The Chinese were seen as outsiders and intruders on the fields by the white workers and violence against them increased with their escalating numbers. In 1855 the Victorian Parliament passed “Act to Make Provision for Certain Immigrants” which resulted in that shipmasters could only bring one Chinese worker per tonnage along with a poll of 10 pounds per Chinese person brought over. South Australia was to follow Victoria and passed a similar act in 1857. Another catalyst that created anti Chinese feelings was due to that the Chinese workers sent their earnings back to China instead of letting it benefit the community. They were therefore seen as something like parasites of the land, further adding to the racial injustice directed against them.
The emergence of Social Darwinism as a theory in the 19th century justified the exclusion of non white in order not to contaminate and ruin the white society. Social Darwinism emerged in the 19th century and is based on theory that all are subjects to natural selection, meaning that the weak are diminished and the strong flourish. As described by Curthoys it was believed impossible for non whites to become assimilated into society and they should therefore be excluded. Because they could not be absorb in the society, as a result of their believed racial weakness. It was presumed that in the long term they would create a lower social class in the society and contaminate the Anglo-Celtic community with their lack of moral and Christianity if allowed to stay Similarly it is described by Evans that the Chinese were seen as potential contaminators being regarded as an immoral filthy and inferior race. It was repeatedly debated that no two cultures were able to live in harmony but one would become masters and the other sub servant. Such views are supported by Walker; he explains that contemporary news media backed the opinion that “where Europeans and Non-Europeans occupied the same territory one would inevitably come to dominate the other”. Australia had developed an image of it self as a young strong British nation, and this image was to be nurtured, protected and built upon and nothing was to be standing in its way.
Australian States and territories had all had different immigration regulations but after 1888-1889 a Bill was passed to uniform the state laws which resulted in decline of mainly Chinese immigrants in the country to 29,600 in 1901. This was however not enough and in 1901 the Immigration Restriction Act was passed to further tighten existing immigration laws by the complete exclusion of non whites, and white Australia policy was born. Australian immigration policy had reached full circle with the passing of the Act of 1901 which effectively excluded any person of non European origin. One of the most controversial parts of the Act came to be the dictation test where an immigration officer could demand a written test of fifty words in a European Language by the immigrant. After a non white immigrant passed one European language the immigration officer in charge would demand another one and yet another one until reaching a failing verdict. The reason or justification for implementing such test was that it was not based on race but literacy to discriminate against non European immigrants.
In conclusion the IRA 1901 came into practice by reason of believes that the white Anglo-Celtic were superior to anyone living in Australia before their arrival. This racial view was to be nurtured and used against the arrival of Asian immigrants in 1850s as they were also to be described as an inferior race. They were also accused to parasite on the land and stealing jobs from white Australian workers with their low wages. The Asian immigrants became to be regarded as a contaminator of the Australian race and society and a demand for their exclusion was demanded. Social Darwinism became the tool to justify the exclusion of non white populations from Australia and was used to protect Australians from facing destruction and to protect the future Australia. The IRA 1901 came into practice as a mean of protection for the Australian labour movement and the society of being contaminated by an inferior race. The IRA 1901 with including dictation test also meant that Australia was to remain a predominately white society.
Posted by Fredrik at 3:48 AM