12/30/2013

ISSA Sarumaru

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. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .


Sarumaru Daiyu 猿丸大夫


Sarumaru Dayū

a waka poet in the early Heian period. He is a member of the Thirty Six Poetic Sages (三十六歌仙, sanjūrokkasen), but there are no detailed histories or legends about him. There is a possibility that there never was such a person. Some believe him to have been Prince Yamashiro no Ōe.
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Fukushima 福島県 Legend from Tabitomura 田人村

Once Sarumaru Daiyu was hunting a white deer and came down all the way to Nikko. The Huge Mukade 大ムカデ from Nikko eats the children of the white deer, this deer mother had called the famous arrow shooter Sarumaru to help.
He put some spittle on his arrow and shot the mukade dead.
Even now if people want to kill a mudake, they use spittle.

. mukade 蜈蚣 むかで millipede, centipede .

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猿丸がきせる加へて梅の花
sarumaru ga kiseru kuwaete ume no hana

Mr. Monkey
long pipe in his mouth
enjoys plum blossoms

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the second month (March) of 1816, when Issa was living in his hometown. Issa writes the word monkey with the suffix "-maru" (also read "-maro"), a common suffix used in the names of men -- such as the waka poet Hitomaro -- from the ancient period on. In Issa's time it was a standard friendly term for a monkey. Even today, adult Japanese will often speak of a monkey or group of monkeys as saru-san, or "Mr./Ms. Monkey," as if the monkeys were honorary humans, a usage which is both respectful and intimate and neither elevates nor lowers the status of monkeys in relation to humans. The suffix -san is not as consistently used by adults for other non-human animals and continues the usage in Issa's time, when monkeys were addressed as equals in many contexts, as in this hokku. The use of "Mr. Monkey" is different from the use of "-dono," that is, Lord or Sir, which Issa uses in many hokku, since "-dono" is a metaphor based on hierarchical class society and often includes ironic or humorous overtones as well as respect.

In ancient Japanese myth the greatest of the earth gods is named Saruta-hiko, Monkey Field Man, and in traditional Japanese society monkeys were believed to be the messengers of mountain gods and able to move freely back and forth across the border between the invisible divine world and the visible everyday world as well as the border between the animal world and the human world.

One of the Thirty-Six Waka Poet Wizards in ancient Japan was named Sarumaru Dayuu, and his name "Great Priest of the Monkeys" (literally Great Monkey-Man Priest) indicates he was regarded as a powerful shaman or Shinto priest ("Dayuu") who prayed to various monkey gods. Nothing certain is known about him, and scholars believe his few remaining waka poems may have been written by a line of wandering priests or shamans using the same title, a title which indicates that "monkey-man" was a term of high respect in ancient Japan. Later, in medieval Japan, a kind of shamanic drama known as Sarugaku, or "Monkey Music," developed into No drama.

In Issa's age, monkeys were sometimes the butt of jokes, but they were also regarded as intelligent and semi-divine, depending on the situation. In Issa's hokku, the monkey seems to be either a dancing monkey who travels with a trainer and gives roadside performances or a monkey living near a shrine at which monkeys are worshiped, since he seems to be familiar with humans and with a pipe someone has loaned him. The pipe has a long bamboo stem with a metal mouthpiece and bowl, and the monkey seems to know what to do with it, since he holds it properly in his mouth between his teeth.

Issa doesn't say whether the pipe is lit, but it might be, since in Issa's day many people liked to drink and celebrate as they viewed the plum blossoms, which were regarded as second only to cherry blossoms in terms of beauty. Perhaps the monkey is resting after a performance or a festival, and the trainer is thanking him by giving him a few puffs, or perhaps by now the monkey has his own pipe. There might be a submerged image here of the long pipe as an object suggesting nearly verbal yet still nonverbal communication between monkeys and humans, with the pipe extending like semi-words from the monkey's mouth.



This shows the kind of pipe the monkey has in his mouth.

Chris Drake

. WKD : kiseru 煙管 long pipes .


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. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 - Introduction .


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