Monday, June 30, 2008


Amaterasu. Acrylic on paper. 2006

I'm a painter as well as a mask-maker. This is my version of Amaterasu, the "Sun-Goddess", and though I use some shinto symbolism it also owes much to Changing Woman, one of the Navajo deities.

Any introductory text on Shinto will say that Amaterasu is the most important kami in Japan, but that is only true of contemporary shinto which is closely related to the emperor-centric State Shinto created in the late 19th Century.

Amaterasu is the kami that the current Imperial family claim descent from and that is why she is now pushed as the "head" kami. Before the 20th Century there were actually very few shrines dedicated to her.


The most well known myth of Amaterasu is the Iwato story wherein she hides herself in a cave and plunges the world into darkness and is later tricked into coming back out. The above shot is a scene from an Iwami Kagura performance of Iwato.

You can see a small selection of my paintings from the past 38 years here


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