Jizo's bib

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Bernhard Scheid

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Jun 9, 2008, 6:40:25 AM6/9/08
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Dear list members,

a recent question by a student caught me by surprise because it related
to something so familiar that I did no longer realize I didn't know:
Jizo's bib and cap. Or more precicely: the red piece of cloth around the
neck of many sekibutsu, most typically Jizo, often combined with a cap
in the same colour. I always thought (without thinking too much about
it) that this has something to do with the children Jizo is supposed to
save and thereby becoming himself a represenatitve of the child, but:
why is the bib also found at other figures and why is it most typically
red? And is there any evidence since when the habit of revering
Jizo/sekibutsu in this way exists and where it comes from?

Many thanks in advance for any information on that point

Bernhard Scheid

JL Badgley

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Jun 9, 2008, 10:53:11 AM6/9/08
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Please forgive me as I haven't checked thoroughly through my sources
on this, but as I was told the bib was representative of clothing,
offered to Jizo because of his status as a traveller, so that he does
not get cold upon his journey. I was told that the bib was often
given by mothers or parents, as Jizo is supposed to travel down to
Hell(s) and back again to rescue the souls of children who have died.

Here is an example of the story from a 14th century copy of "Jizou
Engi Emaki" from the Tokyo National Museum. I apologize for the
resolution:
http://flickr.com/photos/tatsushu/284661896/in/set-72157600772093455/

It appears, however, that Jizou's robes may have been red in that
depiction--though it is only one, I find it an interesting
coincidence.

Red is, of course, an auspicious color; on stone I have often wondered
if it doesn't provide the fortunate 'ko-haku' aesthetic.

Here are some specific examples:

http://flickr.com/photos/tatsushu/277241281/in/set-72157600771340229/

http://flickr.com/photos/tatsushu/277241976/in/set-72157600771340229/

http://flickr.com/photos/tatsushu/277245321/in/set-72157600771340229/

You also see the bib on fox statues at Inari shrines, so it does not
appear to be a purely Buddhist or Jizou related custom.

As to why a bib--I would suggest that it is a simple garment, easily
created to fit over a statue which one may not necessarily 'dress'
appropriately. Of some possible linkage is the adornment of Buddhist
images elsewhere with monks robes, such as in Thailand.

Unfortunately, I could not say how long this practice has been going
on, though I've seen scrolls with pictures from the Edo period, at
least, showing this kind of offering. I'd look to the origins of the
worship of Jizo in Japan and see if that helps. I would also suggest
looking in another possibly odd place: stories of tanuki. As bakemono
some of the more 'popular' shapes in stories are as a kettle or Jizo
statue. While indirect, there may be some help tracking down those
tales and seeing when the Jizo image becomes popular.

-Joshua Badgley

edward moreno

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Jun 9, 2008, 11:36:35 AM6/9/08
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Dear Scheid Sensei: Not being a scholar, but a dyed-in-the-red lover of Japanese lore, culture and tradition, who often writes at the non-scholarly level, I was just as curious about "Why yodarekake, and why red?"

My first encounter with it was in Japan during Showa, in the most incredibly fascinating manner...Jizo Bosatsu, all capped and bibbed in red. (He played a little trick on me.)  So I consulted every possible source I could about the issue. The attached link may help answer your question, if not entirely. Because it is loaded with serious references, at least it might give you new venues for exploration and Boy, starting with "red rice," are they fun even if time consuming. Also, Dr. Jan Chozen Bays wrote a rather interesting volume on Jizo Bodhisattva, where I think she refers to the red bib and its colour. I cannot remember the page, but it’s worth reading. Happy hunting!

http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/color-red.html

jason.a....@williams.edu

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Jun 9, 2008, 12:42:33 PM6/9/08
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Greetings,

My impression is that in Shingon circles Jizo represents the embryo or
newborn. As a placental/womb protector Jizo's bib and red hat are a
depiction of the amniotic sack or caul (the embryonic membrane that
covers the body and particularly the head at birth). The color red
here is reference to the mother's blood (part of the "red" and
"white", "blood" and "semen" of Buddhist embryology).

The bib imagery also has a strong parallel to the monk's kasaya, that
also plays on a similar set of caul symbolism (for that discussion see
Bernard Faure, "Quand l'habit fait le moine," in Chan Buddhism in
Ritual Context).

Also, it is worth noting that this embryonic metaphor also underlies
Jizo's association with "hell" and the "intermediate state" (Japanese,
chūin 中陰 or chūu 中有, Sankrit antarābhava) , which is often understood
as reminiscent of gestation.

Best,

--
Jason Ānanda Josephson
Assistant Professor of Religion

Williams College
402 Stetson Hall
26 Hopkins Hall Drive
Williamstown, MA 01267


email: Jason.J...@williams.edu

Greve Gabi

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Jun 9, 2008, 5:22:47 PM6/9/08
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Dear list members,

a recent question by a student caught me by surprise because it related
to something so familiar that I did no longer realize I didn't know:
Jizo's bib and cap. Or more precicely: the red piece of cloth around the
neck of many sekibutsu, most typically Jizo, often combined with a cap
in the same colour. I always thought (without thinking too much about
it) that this has something to do with the children Jizo is supposed to
save and thereby becoming himself a represenatitve of the child, but:
why is the bib also found at other figures and why is it most typically
red? And is there any evidence since when the habit of revering
Jizo/sekibutsu in this way exists and where it comes from?

Many thanks in advance for any information on that point

Bernhard Scheid

.....................................................................................

Dear Bernard,

a priest in Northern Japan once told me, some of the BIB explanations
living babies are given to Jizo from their mothers, bibs which still
contain the smell of the baby on the stains ... so when Jizo comes to
hell to rescue a child he can identify the baby by its smell and bring
it to a safe place in the other world.

Also the color red, maybe, in the same vein as dear old Daruma san is
clad in red. That is the smallpox connection. Lately, red has been
proven by the medical world to be a protection of some sorts. Red
underwear is a great HIT with the old ladies here in Japan ... grin at
the modern world ...

Daruma, Smallpox and the color Red, the Double Life of a Patriarch
Bernard Faure.

http://www.geocities.com/gabigreve2000/redsmallpoxarticle.html


Sai no Kawara (my first draft)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Darumasan-Japan/message/502


and Mark made a great page out of it
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/sai-no-kawara.html

the color RED. DEMONS AND DISEASE.
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/color-red.html


Greetings from Japan! Gruesse aus Japan!
GABI

Daruma Museum Japan
http://darumasan.blogspot.com/

.

Hank Glassman

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Jun 10, 2008, 12:59:07 PM6/10/08
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Felicitations to all,

Thanks to Bernhard Sheid for this question, always a fruitful if elusive one.

I was asked the same question recently by a friend on her first trip
to Japan and was once again stymied as to how to reply. I'll try to
be brief in my response here, but I have lots to say on this issue,
so am glad to see that there is interest.

Clearly, all the answers provided thus far are absolutely correct and
no response can exhaust the possibilities. Having been _tricked_ by
Jizo (or was it a tanuki?) in the later years of Showa like Edward
Moreno, I have asked some of the the same questions: why a yodarekake
and why red?

Joshua Badgley tentatively suggests Edo-period origins for this
practice, and I'd agree. As Gabi Greve indicates, one common
explanation is that women (families) used to give the bibs of their
dead children to Jizo and ask him to watch over them in the
Sai-no-kawara limbo. I'd say that this belief in Sai no kawara, which
originated around the turn of the seventeenth century is closely
related, as is late medieval belief in the Blood Pool Hell or
Ketsubon/Chi no ike. Sawada Mizuho has written about a Qing period
gazetteer entry from Zhejiang in which women who have had children
make skirts out of red paper and wrap them around a Jizo (Dizang)
image on the day of Dizang's birthday - 7/30 - when they remove
these, it is said to expiate the pollution of childbirth. (On the
same day, there are ceremonies directed at making deposits to King
Emma who provides the soul of the child on loan.) Following from this
last point, and echoing JJ Josephson's comment about the placenta,
Tanaka Takako has noted that in the late medieval story Tengu no
dairi, it is said that Datsueba (the 'clothes stripping hag' of Sanzu
no kawa, sometimes seen as Emma's wife in Japan) lends each
baby/fetus a 'placenta cloth' or enakin, which must be returned to
her on the fateful day when they meet again.

The practice of dressing images (especially Jizo images) is also
pretty old in Japan. As JJ says, this is no doubt related to the
importance of the laity donating monastic robes to the sangha. Jizo
is, after all, a monk. As to the wrapping of other sekibutsu, and
also old discarded grave stones in (often red) bibs and caps, I'd say
that this is an assimilation to the Jizo cult. I have much more to
say about this, especially as it relates to the idea of muen botoke
(or the unconnected dead) and dosojin, but here will just note that
in Japan other deities are frequently misidentified (the wrong word
here if there ever was one) as Jizo. Devotees might call an Amida
image famous for healing teething pain habuki Jizo, ignoring the
iconographical contradictions, or might see a favorite stone image of
Kobo daishi as Jizo, his clutched vajra hidden under a think stack of
bibs.

Finally, as is often seen on Mt. Koya, the broken-off finial of a
hokyointo--type grave, placed in the crotch of an ancient tree and
decorated with a little bib and cap, is certainly a Jizo image to the
pilgims who place their one-yen coins in little plastic baskets and
fold their hands in prayer before it.

OK, sorry for the long-winded (and jet-lagged) response. Feel free to
ply me for specifics offlist if you are interested.

regards,

Hank

Hank Glassman
Assoc. Prof. of East Asian Studies
Haverford College

edward moreno

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Jun 10, 2008, 2:56:12 PM6/10/08
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Mina-san yoroshiku.
I love the flow of exquisite information regarding Professor Scheid's
inquiry. It just happens that I was starting a little piece about the same
topic for one of the future issues of our "Newsette" at the ESGVJCC, in West
Covina, CA. I would only like to share another source for added fun: Dr.
Karen A. Smyers'(Department of Religion at Wesleyan U) first book "The Fox
and The Jewel." Published by U. Hawaii in 1999, this book is so delightful
that once you open it, it "foxes" you out. You simply can't stop reading
it, no matter what. Can you imagine? Besides her fantastic source research,
A SEVENTEEN PAGE BIBLIO, she goes to the field for a number of years,
communes with the myth-makers and followers in their own habitats, and comes
loaded with the most fascinating in situ interviews ANY researcher could
dream about. Her findings in regards the red color are not limited to
Inari-sama and his/her messenger, but expand to other areas in the realm of
Myth. Try it you'll love it.

Ed Moreno yori
EMORE...@roadrunner.com

-----Original Message-----
From: pm...@googlegroups.com [mailto:pm...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Hank
Glassman
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 9:59 AM
To: pm...@googlegroups.com

sean_so...@yahoo.ie

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Jun 11, 2008, 1:23:02 PM6/11/08
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Dear List,

Perhaps you won't find a further reference or two as a trailing tip to
the discussion. This one is hanging on my mind, having only just
finished it recently: William R. LaFleur's _Liquid Life_ has a fair
bit on the evolution of O-Jizô-san's iconography. Given the primary
topic of this study (mizuko), LaFleur concentrates on matters relating
to birth and premature death, and O-Jizô-san's attendant capacity as
healer and deliverer.

I'm sure many of you have seen the rather catechetical manga to be
found at many temples for around 500-yen. One of these, 'O-jizô-
sama', provides interesting examples as to what children are being
educated (lore, practice, symbolism), in regards to the importance of
this figure.

Best wishes,
Sean Somers

Thomas Howell

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Jun 11, 2008, 2:11:24 PM6/11/08
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Doesn't LaFleur's tracing of the Jizo image provide another clue --
that besides being a savior of infants, Jizo gradually evolved into
an infant figure himself-- a child that needs to be nurtured,
protected, and to wear a bib? -- tom

Bernhard Scheid

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Jun 12, 2008, 10:10:02 AM6/12/08
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Many thanks to all those who have taken part in this "always fruitful if
elusive" discussion. I gather from the replies so far that a conclusive
answer can hardly be expected but many point to the Edo period as
regards the formation of the cult and seem to agree that it is indeed
the cult of Jizō that forms the prototype for all statues bibbed in red,
and that it has to do something with childbirth. So far, the answers
accorded to my own expectations, but my problem was the reason for the
appearant uniformity and ubiquity of that cult. According to my
understanding, this could be either explained by a kind of canonization
which presupposes a strong political power behind it, or by a strong
common spiritual need. In the case of sekibutsu the former (i.e. backup
by strong political power) seems rather unlikely. My problem with
explanations such as Bernard Faure's placenta or caul symbolism, as
mentioned by Jason Josephson and Hank Glassman, or even LaFleur's
abortion/infanticid complex mentioned by Gabi Greve or Thomas Howell, is
that they seem too particular to explain that in all parts of Japan
people time and again honor such a great number of - admittedly somewhat
marginal - statues in always quite similar ways. When we follow Hank
Glassman's suggestion, however, that all this is embedded in the larger
complex of overcoming childbirth pollution, the ubiquity of the red bib
begins to make sense (in my eyes). It is also interesting to learn, that
a similar symbolism exists also in Chinese Jizō (Dizang) veneration. As
it appears, Hank Glassman is preparing a book-length study on the
subject and I am looking forward to reading it.

To add a bibliographical sidenote myself, I may add that some
afterlife-aspects of the question, in particular sai-no-kawara and the
blood-pond hell, are covered in the volume Practicing the Afterlife:
Perspectives from Japan (Susanne Formanek and William LaFleur (eds),
2004): http://ikga.oeaw.ac.at/Pub_einzeln/Pb2_Formanek04.html

Greetings

Bernhard Scheid

robin d. gill

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Jun 13, 2008, 10:36:00 AM6/13/08
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Dear Bernhard Scheid and Other Red Bibbers,
 
A non-participant, I, too, enjoyed this thread, and particularly when Gabi Greve
essayed red, itself,  found myself wondering if anyone might know whether or not
there is a tendency for not only jizo but rakan, etc  to be dressed,adorned or
whatever with it, when they are outside, as opposed to when they are inside.
 
Because a little red goes a long way to improving our perception of its contrary  
color, it can make the area around it seem lushly and magically green even
when there has been little rain or on a dark and foggy day.  I may be way out
of line here, but is there any chance aesthetics may play a role however minor
in that uniformity which, I realize, is pretty well explained by the association
with pollution?
 
敬愚 
 
robin d gill
paraverse press 
--
"Rise, Ye Sea Slugs!"

Mark Schumacher

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Jun 13, 2008, 11:13:07 AM6/13/08
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Hi Everyone,

I'm new to the PMJS discussion on Jizo's bib and the color red.
Yet, I've been researching this issue for over one decade.
I tend to disagree with the opinions of the PMJS group.

Question: When did the "Cult of Red" Begin in Japan?
Says BERNARD SCHEID (slightly abridged by me): "Many point to the Edo period as regards the formation of the RED CULT in Japan, and most seem to agree that it is indeed the cult of Jizo that forms the prototype for all statues bibbed in red, and that it has to do something with childbirth. My problem with explanations such as Bernard Faure's placenta or caul symbolism, as mentioned by Jason Josephson and Hank Glassman, or even LaFleur's abortion/infanticid complex mentioned by Gabi Greve or Thomas Howell, is that they seem too particular to explain that in all parts of Japan people time and again honor such a great number of - admittedly somewhat marginal - statues in always quite similar ways. When we follow Hank Glassman's suggestion, however, that all this is embedded in the larger complex of overcoming childbirth pollution, the ubiquity of the red bib begins to make sense (in my eyes). It is also interesting to learn, that a similar symbolism exists also in Chinese Jizo veneration. As it appears, Hank Glassman is preparing a book-length study on the subject and I am looking forward to reading it."

MARK HERE. I too believe that the Jizo cult forms the prototype for Japan's "modern" cult of red, and that the Jizo prototype is based, in part, on earlier traditions associated with childbirth pollution. Jizo is today, for example, closely associated with abortion (Mizuko Jizo). BUT, in my mind, the key underlining element in the widespread practice of dressing various deities in red is SICKNESS, not childbirth pollution. The main symbolism is Red-Equals-Sickness. Childbirth pollution is too narrow, too particular. Sickness is widespread, everywhere. Smallpox, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, measles, blood, disease. People in all ages try to avoid pain and sickness.

I cannot support my case with hard evidence. Hard evidence is hard to come by. But circumstantial evidence is abundant and clearly points to SICKNESS as the key ingredient in Japan's cult of red. Consider below points, and remember too that the main role of below deities was defined clearly much earlier than the Edo period.
  • In Asuka Period (522 - 645 AD), Yamato court pursued purfication rites centered on the fire god (a red deity)
  • Sanno Gongen (monkey avatar) of the Tendai Sect (Hie Shrines/Temples) is often decked in red; monkeys are associated with fertility and child birth, but main task is to dispel evil spirits
  • Kitsune (fox) is often decked in red; main task to dispel evil spirits
  • Shishi Lion-dogs often decked in red; main task to dispel evil spirits
  • NIO often painted red; main task is to dispel evil spirits
  • Shinto torii painted red (why is that?)
  • Binzuru (an Arhat) is often decked in red. He is a healing deity.
  • Red bibs reportedly appear in emakimono 絵巻物 (illustrated handscrolls) and the Tale of Genji 源氏物語 during the Heian Era (I have not yet confirmed these findings).
  • Jizo's traditional role is savior from torments/demons of hell, and only later as patron of children and aborted fetuses
  • Kannon, often decked in red, represents protection in this life against evil; also a "child giving" deity
  • In old Japan, children with smallpox were clothed in red garments and those caring for the sick also wore red (however, I'm not sure exactly when this tradition began)
  • There are countless other examples; see www.onmarkproductions.com/html/color-red.html
At the end of the day, I do not know WHEN the tradition of dressing deities in red gained favor among the common people. All I can surmise is this -- the common denominator is SICKNESS, aka the dispelling of evil influences. The "cult of red" and the "bib" tradition may have come to fruition in the Edo period, yes, but this did not occur in a vacuum. It came after many  centuries during which the main role of the deities was to "dispel evil." The modern "cult of red" involves all of these earlier "evil dispelling" deities. That is surely a big clue. Why else are they all decked in red? Sickness, not childbirth pollution, seems the most likely candidate for the modern cult of red in Japan.

sincerely
mark in kamakura

Hank Glassman

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Jun 13, 2008, 2:37:38 PM6/13/08
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hi all,

yes, i agree with mark's comments. (and join others in expressing admiration for his useful sites.) the color red and its association is by no means restricted to the idea of childbirth pollution and i did not mean to imply this in my response. the practice dressing children in red as a prophylactic measure is clearly old and widespread throughout east asia. if you are looking for images of children in red bibs a good place to start is:  黒田日出男『絵巻 子どもの登場―中世社会の子ども像』 (河出書房新社、1989年)

we might also note the "warding off" nature of sexual images from at least the nara period in the form of _sai no kami_ or _kunado no kami_ set up at crossroads, and of course related to the spread of the medieval spread of the jizo cult  (and the dosojin) through japan.

as i said before, there can be no conclusive and all-encompassing answer to the questions we are asking here -- "why does jizo wear a bib and why is it red?" there are many useful ways to approach the issue - through iconolgy, folklore, structural symbolism, etc., etc. and ultimately no one answer can be decisive or encompass all meanings. that's why it's such a great question.

i think that this is my last word on this thread for now, except to confirm gabi greve's observation about red underwear and grandmas. these were selling like hot-cakes on the sando to togenuki jizo (baachan no harajuku) in sugamo when i was there last week.

with best wishes,

hank

red bib boy.jpg

JL Badgley

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Jun 13, 2008, 1:23:37 PM6/13/08
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2008/6/13 Mark Schumacher <m...@onmarkproductions.com>:

>
> In Asuka Period (522 - 645 AD), Yamato court pursued purfication rites
> centered on the fire god (a red deity)
> Sanno Gongen (monkey avatar) of the Tendai Sect (Hie Shrines/Temples) is
> often decked in red; monkeys are associated with fertility and child birth,
> but main task is to dispel evil spirits
> Kitsune (fox) is often decked in red; main task to dispel evil spirits
> Shishi Lion-dogs often decked in red; main task to dispel evil spirits
> NIO often painted red; main task is to dispel evil spirits
> Shinto torii painted red (why is that?)
> Binzuru (an Arhat) is often decked in red. He is a healing deity.
> Red bibs reportedly appear in emakimono 絵巻物 (illustrated handscrolls) and
> the Tale of Genji 源氏物語 during the Heian Era (I have not yet confirmed these
> findings).
> Jizo's traditional role is savior from torments/demons of hell, and only
> later as patron of children and aborted fetuses
> Kannon, often decked in red, represents protection in this life against
> evil; also a "child giving" deity
> In old Japan, children with smallpox were clothed in red garments and those
> caring for the sick also wore red (however, I'm not sure exactly when this
> tradition began)
> There are countless other examples; see
> www.onmarkproductions.com/html/color-red.html
>

Is it specifically sickness, or protection in general?

I had been told, and could be mistaken, that the red paint used on
wooden pillars was supposed to protect the wood and keep it from
rotting. It was specifically the red paint, according to those I've
heard it from. Now, this could just be hearsay, but if there is a
connection to red paint and a belief that it protects the wood, that
would explain why so many exposed wooden structures (torii, hashira,
etc.) were painted red. Could that concept have evolved further to
eventually include a meaning of protection from disease, rotting away,
illness, etc.?

Also, is this connected to the 'kouhaku' symbology of red and white
paired together?


Just wondering aloud...

-Josh

Michael Pye

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Jun 15, 2008, 10:33:33 AM6/15/08
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Dear Colleagues,

In the wonderful array of detail in the discussion on Jizo's bib I
feel there is some lack of clarity about what counts as a "meaning" or
an "origin" of something. The first question by Bernhard Scheidt was
quite simple: (from memory) Why does Jizo wear a red bib? What has not
been asked in the discussion is "for whom" any answer would be an
appropriate one. If you ask people today, then the answer is usually
to do with the identification with the children (of whom the unborn
are in a majority when it comes to death), for whom Jizo cares. Any
connection with epidemics is rare. But that may have been important
earlier. But there seems to be a tendency to collect up all possible
associations for bibs and the colour red, and then to regard this
wonderful collection as the answer. But the answer for whom? and when?
- that is what we always have to ask.

A few points on some of the details which have been adduced: Giving
robes to Buddhist figures has usually been for those who are
ordainable (in Theravada Buddhism also the Buddha himself, as the
model for his disciples) but not usually for bodhisattvas, who were
already ordained long long ago.... And robes are not bibs. So even as
a remote cause I would discount this theme as not really relevant to
Jizo's bib.

As to red clothing in general, wasn't it considered an appropriate
colour for the garments of children (and girls) in early Confucianism?
This would discount both the epidemics and the "pollution" theme. By
the way, references to blood aren't necessarily references to
"pollution". There is blood involved in childbirth and in abortions,
but we must be careful not to jump to the idea that it's a kind of
pollution. Pollution isn't a major matter in all contexts equally,
though important in some. Anway, the "bib" doesn't seem the right
place for blood-related pollution, even though real-life bibs can get
messy...Often the bibs are not red anyway, and when they are numerous
on one Jizo they can vary in colour. This line of thought doesn't
exclude the possibilty of such considerations having influenced the
use of the colour red at some point, but we should take not to simply
extrapolate it forward as a permanent given.

As to the red of some torii, whenever I have asked Shinto priests
about this, I have always been told that it has no particular symbolic
meaning, and is just the colour of an appropriate preservative paint
(with a history). In the case of Inari shrines the orangy red has
become something of a specific trademark, though the red is not
restricted to them. Nor is there only one kind of red on torii.

So what's the main residual point? At graves it's customary to leave
standard things which the dead persons might require, cigarettes,
sake, golf balls, flowers, rice, tea... In so far as Jizo figures are
set up to escort dead children including foetuses, they can take a bib
for the child in question. Since the figures often stand for the
deceased infants, or as carers for still living children, the best
place to put the bib is right around their neck. The donors are
effectively asking Jizo to take care of the children by accepting a
bib for them. This view fits with what people tell you nowadays, with
the general concept of kuyo, and with the specific connection between
Jizo and children.

In sum, the origins of anything (e.g. the use of the colour red) may
be more complex, or just other, than the current phenomenon. Thus the
meanings shift and aren't necessarily cumulative. Unfortunately it's
not very easy to "ask" the people of bygone centuries.

Michael Pye
Professor of the Study of Religions
University of Marburg, Germany (retired)
Visiting Professor, Otani University, Kyoto, Japan

Mark Schumacher

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Jun 20, 2008, 3:46:46 AM6/20/08
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Dear Colleagues,

What a wonderful discussion. Yes, I agree with Michael Pye: "There seems to be a tendency to collect up all possible associations for bibs and the colour red, and then to regard this wonderful collection as the answer. But the answer for whom and when?"

And yes, I also agree with Hank Glassman: "No response can exhaust the possibilities to the questions we are asking." There are just too many unknown variables. What people did and thought in earlier centuries is very hard to retrace with confidence. But don't forget. The historian's task is to gather up samples, to compare them, to reach conclusions from "collections and associations" of data. Thus, I don't think we are too far off the mark despite the comments of Michael Pye.

Yet, the possibilities are endless. So, from my own love of organizing things into neat little piles, I've created the below bullet list to summarize our discussion to date.

  • The color red and its associations are by no means restricted to the idea of childbirth pollution <Glassman>
  • No response can exhaust the possibilities to the questions we are asking. <Glassman>
  • The Edo-period is probably the origin of the red cult. <Badgley>
  • Sickness, not childbirth pollution, seems the most likely candidate for the modern cult of red in Japan. <Schumacher>
  • Sai no Kawara legend is attributed (I think) to the Jodo Pure Land Sect from around 14C or 15C. <Schumacher>
  • In Shingon circles, Jizo represents the embryo or newborn. As a placental/womb protector, Jizo's bib and red hat are a depiction of the amniotic sack or caul. <Joseph, Faure>
  • Bibs still contain the smell of the baby on the stains. So when Jizo comes to hell to rescue a child he can identify the baby by its smell and bring it to a safe place in the other world. <Greve>
  • Color red is in same vein as Daruma and the smallpox connection. <Greve, Faure>
  • Many point to the Edo period as regards the formation of the red cult and seem to agree that it is indeed the Jizo cult that forms the prototype for all statues bibbed in red, and that it has to do something with childbirth pollution. <Scheid>
  • There seems to be a tendency to collect up all possible associations for bibs and the colour red, and then to regard this wonderful collection as the answer. But the answer for whom? and when?  <Pye>
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