Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

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Dharmic
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Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by Dharmic » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:50 am

Hi,

Source : Library of Congress International Collections

An example of Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan? This unusual rendition of the Heart Sutra, one of the most popular Buddhist scriptures in East Asia, is titled “Heart Sutra for the Illiterate” (mekura shinkyō). Its creator aimed to make the sutra readable for those with no formal education by relying on pictures of familiar items to serve as a guide for pronunciation. Because these pictures represent sounds, rather than objects or ideas, they don’t really act as pictograms the way emoji do. But in their icon-like appearance, succinct and functional, they do bear a resemblance to our use of emoji today. Tachibana Nankei (1753-1805) reproduced this unique text from northeastern Japan in his 1795 “Travelogue of East and West” (Tōzai yūki).
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:anjali:
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That has not arisen, arise and grow;
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Re: Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by ItsRaining » Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:06 pm

Am I dumb? I can't seem to make sense of it.

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Re: Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by jkarlins » Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:59 pm

Yes, I saw this on another site a few days ago. Very cool!

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Dharmic
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Re: Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by Dharmic » Fri Aug 04, 2017 1:15 pm

ItsRaining wrote:Am I dumb? I can't seem to make sense of it.
Hi,

It doesn't make any sense to me either. Nope,it doesn't mean we are dumb,we just don't know what sound corresponds to each picture.

It was meant for people who couldn't read Japanese characters. I suppose each representation/symbol signified a sound/word. So when the reader looked at a representation/symbol (s)he would utter or recollect that word of the Sūtra. For example, :heart: :reading: ,seeing these two by themselves means nothing. But if I said :heart: = heart and :reading: = Sūtra,then :heart: :reading: = Heart Sūtra.

I posted this because I felt the intention of the creator, to bring the Dharma to those who couldn't read, is noble. The source looks at this from an other perspective: any similarity/relationship this could have with the emojis we are using today.

:anjali:
May the supreme Bodhicitta
That has not arisen, arise and grow;
And may that which has arisen not diminish
But increase more and more.

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Re: Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by CedarTree » Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:17 pm

Dharmic wrote:
ItsRaining wrote:Am I dumb? I can't seem to make sense of it.
Hi,

It doesn't make any sense to me either. Nope,it doesn't mean we are dumb,we just don't know what sound corresponds to each picture.

It was meant for people who couldn't read Japanese characters. I suppose each representation/symbol signified a sound/word. So when the reader looked at a representation/symbol (s)he would utter or recollect that word of the Sūtra. For example, :heart: :reading: ,seeing these two by themselves means nothing. But if I said :heart: = heart and :reading: = Sūtra,then :heart: :reading: = Heart Sūtra.

I posted this because I felt the intention of the creator, to bring the Dharma to those who couldn't read, is noble. The source looks at this from an other perspective: any similarity/relationship this could have with the emojis we are using today.

:anjali:
Absolutely amazing

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Re: Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by Minobu » Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:26 pm

Dharmic wrote:
ItsRaining wrote:Am I dumb? I can't seem to make sense of it.
Hi,

It doesn't make any sense to me either. Nope,it doesn't mean we are dumb,we just don't know what sound corresponds to each picture.

It was meant for people who couldn't read Japanese characters. I suppose each representation/symbol signified a sound/word. So when the reader looked at a representation/symbol (s)he would utter or recollect that word of the Sūtra. For example, :heart: :reading: ,seeing these two by themselves means nothing. But if I said :heart: = heart and :reading: = Sūtra,then :heart: :reading: = Heart Sūtra.

I posted this because I felt the intention of the creator, to bring the Dharma to those who couldn't read, is noble. The source looks at this from an other perspective: any similarity/relationship this could have with the emojis we are using today.

:anjali:
But if I said :heart: = heart and :reading: = Sūtra,then :heart: :reading: = Heart Sūtra.
which is useless if you cannot read in the first place. lol


maybe if taught the system ,i guess ,for the first few pages the person who is illiterate would get the hang of it and then study it over and over.


edit: which is what you were saying anyway...lol

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Re: Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:37 pm

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resized (1).jpg (95.55 KiB) Viewed 525 times

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Re: Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by Grigoris » Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:51 am

That's fantastic! :smile:
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Re: Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by Cianan » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:25 pm

Minobu wrote:
Dharmic wrote:
ItsRaining wrote:Am I dumb? I can't seem to make sense of it.
Hi,

It doesn't make any sense to me either. Nope,it doesn't mean we are dumb,we just don't know what sound corresponds to each picture.

It was meant for people who couldn't read Japanese characters. I suppose each representation/symbol signified a sound/word. So when the reader looked at a representation/symbol (s)he would utter or recollect that word of the Sūtra. For example, :heart: :reading: ,seeing these two by themselves means nothing. But if I said :heart: = heart and :reading: = Sūtra,then :heart: :reading: = Heart Sūtra.

I posted this because I felt the intention of the creator, to bring the Dharma to those who couldn't read, is noble. The source looks at this from an other perspective: any similarity/relationship this could have with the emojis we are using today.

:anjali:
But if I said :heart: = heart and :reading: = Sūtra,then :heart: :reading: = Heart Sūtra.
which is useless if you cannot read in the first place. lol


maybe if taught the system ,i guess ,for the first few pages the person who is illiterate would get the hang of it and then study it over and over.


edit: which is what you were saying anyway...lol
Japanese has a small phonological inventory and many homophones. If a someone were to sound out the words for the pictograms in the book, the sounds would come together to form the words of the Heart Sutra.

For example, hand (手) is pronounced "te" and circle (円) is pronounced "en." By sounding out the words corresponding to these pictures, the word "ten" is produced, which could conceivably mean a variety of different things depending on the context.

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Minobu
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Re: Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by Minobu » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:34 pm

Cianan wrote:
Minobu wrote:
Dharmic wrote:
Hi,

It doesn't make any sense to me either. Nope,it doesn't mean we are dumb,we just don't know what sound corresponds to each picture.

It was meant for people who couldn't read Japanese characters. I suppose each representation/symbol signified a sound/word. So when the reader looked at a representation/symbol (s)he would utter or recollect that word of the Sūtra. For example, :heart: :reading: ,seeing these two by themselves means nothing. But if I said :heart: = heart and :reading: = Sūtra,then :heart: :reading: = Heart Sūtra.

I posted this because I felt the intention of the creator, to bring the Dharma to those who couldn't read, is noble. The source looks at this from an other perspective: any similarity/relationship this could have with the emojis we are using today.

:anjali:
But if I said :heart: = heart and :reading: = Sūtra,then :heart: :reading: = Heart Sūtra.
which is useless if you cannot read in the first place. lol


maybe if taught the system ,i guess ,for the first few pages the person who is illiterate would get the hang of it and then study it over and over.


edit: which is what you were saying anyway...lol
Japanese has a small phonological inventory and many homophones. If a someone were to sound out the words for the pictograms in the book, the sounds would come together to form the words of the Heart Sutra.

For example, hand (手) is pronounced "te" and circle (円) is pronounced "en." By sounding out the words corresponding to these pictures, the word "ten" is produced, which could conceivably mean a variety of different things depending on the context.
So you are saying the thing is useless?

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Re: Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by Cianan » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:48 pm

Minobu wrote:
Cianan wrote:
Minobu wrote:


which is useless if you cannot read in the first place. lol


maybe if taught the system ,i guess ,for the first few pages the person who is illiterate would get the hang of it and then study it over and over.


edit: which is what you were saying anyway...lol
Japanese has a small phonological inventory and many homophones. If a someone were to sound out the words for the pictograms in the book, the sounds would come together to form the words of the Heart Sutra.

For example, hand (手) is pronounced "te" and circle (円) is pronounced "en." By sounding out the words corresponding to these pictures, the word "ten" is produced, which could conceivably mean a variety of different things depending on the context.
So you are saying the thing is useless?
It all depends on someone's command of spoken Japanese. With plenty of speaking experience, a native should be able to put all the sounds into context.

It's actually a very clever way to take advantage of the simplicity of the words of Japanese. While it would make it accessible to an illiterate native speaker, it would admittedly be more taxing for me to try to read this than to simply have the typical Chinese characters convey the concepts.

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Re: Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by Admin_PC » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:30 pm

The second one with the actual furigana is actually easier than trying to read kanbun (esp with no furigana), but bereft of any context one might get from chinese characters that might convey meaning. These will get you sounds and little else. Would be nice if they'd found a way to convey the meaning of the sutra in picture form.
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Re: Heart Sūtra for the Illiterate -Buddhist emoji from 18th-century Japan?

Post by Invokingvajras » Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:12 pm

Love this.

It would seem that the most basic understanding of sutra "literacy" would be the recognition of sounds so that one could follow along with chanting. Even when written in kanbun, few believers really understand the meaning therein without further education on the matter. Many monks seem to be in the same boat: proficient in recitation, but lack understanding of the meaning.

It's perhaps just a reflection of the value placed on the magical/protective qualities of the sutras. It's an expression of faith without much interest placed into its message.

The images in the text represent objects and concepts that are very....well "Japanese." For example, the "hannya" demon represents "hannya." A picture of a person's belly represents "hara" in "haramita." The original text depicts this as a pair of breasts with a little person beneath, clearly representing the womb, or belly. The modern version just shows a torso, but there's still a traditional aura about this imagery. In the Japanese mind, the belly is where one's spirit resides, and so this sort of imagery would appropriately invoke feelings of cultural nostalgia and spirituality that could incur someone to put the text to memory. Just a thought.
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