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Goddess Athena Witnesses Queen Himiko of Yamatai Receiving the Envoy from Wei, 240 A.D.

Oil on canvas.
18 x 24 inch.
March - May, 2002

During the time of the birth of Christ Japan was still dotted with many tribal confederate kingdoms and had not yet attained historical consciousness. The picture of Japan at this time is offered instead by accounts of visiting Chinese diplomats. (China was under Han dynasty rule and soon afterwards split into the three kingdoms.) Chinese historiographers described these tribal kingdoms in southern Japan as strangely matriarchal. The most famous was the kingdom of Yamatai, which in the third century A.D. was ruled by a certain Queen Himiko, a shamaness of extraordinary magical ability, who was elected in common by all the tribes composing the Yamatai on account of her magical powers. Himiko was assisted by her little brother, and in her "court" had an entourage composed of a thousand maidens.

Queen Himiko had diplomatic contacts with (of the three kingdoms) the Wei kingdom in north China through the latter's station in Korea. It is recorded that when Yamatai engaged in war with a neighboring tribe Queen Himiko asked for help from Wei and the latter sent its official Zhang-Zheng from its station in Korea to Himiko to deliver documents and a yellow flag. This painting depicts the moment of reception of Zhang by Queen Himiko.

The Theory of Chang-Kuo-Man by Takehiko Furuta presents a picture of kingdom formations in early Japan which is more realistic but not in accord with the orthodox view. Another introductory link on Japanese goddesses and shamanesses associated with these goddesses.

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