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

The Religious Body Imagined - Pamela D. Winfield

Pamela D. Winfield [+-]
Elon University
Pamela D. Winfield is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Elon University and specializes in Japanese Buddhist art and doctrine. She has edited three special issues of the peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal CrossCurrents (2014, 2017, 2019) and was the lead co-editor (with Steven Heine) of Zen and Material Culture (Oxford University Press, 2017). She is also the author of the award-winning Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism: Kūkai and Dōgen on the Art of Enlightenment (Oxford University Press, 2013; Association of Asian Studies – Southeastern Conference Book Award, 2015) and numerous articles on religion and visual culture. Her research has been supported by the American Academy of Religion, the Association of Asian Studies, the Asian Cultural Council, and others. She serves on the Body and Religion steering committee and co-chairs the Art, Literature, and Religion Unit at the American Academy of Religion, and has convened or co-convened numerous conferences and conference panels that explore religious conceptions of the body.


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.

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Winfield, Pamela. 11. Political and Social Functions of Japanese ‘Buddhist’ Goddesses. The Religious Body Imagined. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Nov 2022. ISBN 9781781799727. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39655. Date accessed: 28 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39655. Nov 2022

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