Rag time

No time for excitement today, so here is the least exciting information I have to hand: the ten types of clothing from which Dōgen suggested his disciples make their robes:

  1. 牛嚼衣, goshaku e: Clothing chewed by cows
  2. 鼠噛衣, soshi e: Clothing gnawed by rats
  3. 火焼衣, kashō e: Clothing burnt by fire
  4. 月水衣, gessui e: Clothing used for menstruation-related purposes (literally "moonwater clothing")
  5. 産婦衣, senbu e: Clothing used for childbirth-related purposes
  6. 神廟衣, jinmyō e: Clothing discarded after shrine-related use
  7. 塚間衣, chogen e: Clothing discarded after grave-related use
  8. 求願衣, kugan e: Clothing discarded after prayer-related use
  9. 王職衣, ōshiki e: Clothing donated by a king or noble
  10. 往還衣, ōgen e: Clothing used as a corpse's shroud (literally "going-home clothing")

The idea, as you have no doubt deduced, was to make use of rags that absolutely no-one could have any attachment to. This minimized one's effect on the world, taught one humility, and also ensured a real bargain. You think last season's tube tops are cheap at Uniqlo, try rummaging through the "chewed by cows" display.

Collectively these are known as funzō e, "clothing of dung-sweepings," allegedly corresponding to Sanskrit pamsukula. The Japanese pronunciations listed above are all taken with gratitude from the linked site. They seem to use the Wu readings, which isn't surprising for Buddhist jargon. But I can't find anyone else that will support chogen for 塚間, so I'll call 'em tentative for now.

Popularity factor: 11


How serious was he about these categories (particularly category 4). The Blood Bowl Sutra was already well attested in Japan by this point (although I forget what our earliest copy that includes the "damned even if you don't" provision--making it clear that menstrual blood, like placental, sends you straight to the Blood Pool Hell).

Actually, category 7 would be much less problematic from a pollution standpoint. Traditionally death-pollution decreases over time, and by the time an abandoned corpse is down to the bones, you need a full court session, legal opinions, and a divination to determine if that tibia dropped on a shrine/temple building will be a problem or not.


Hmm.. I'd wear the Emperor's old clothes.


No. 9

Japanese government (I think empirically it is most true and most multiplicerbart)
And Chinese morality

No. 9 (war is horrible as the Pope says, lose its soul as metaphor from the vatican says)

But an empire which does not extend to (expand with some countries)


He seems pretty serious about the theory, although I have no idea whether he actually forced people to wear old menstrual rags. I guess that this is a list of options rather than requirements, though, and he does provide separate lists in other places...


Not to hijack or anything, and you're probably already aware of this, but apparently languagehat.com is in the midst of scooping you regarding none other than the breathlessly awaited release of this year's "Top 60 Japanese Words/Phrases". And they're not afraid to call you out by name.


Oh, I don't doubt the sentiment behind it--Zen being all about monastic rules (even and especially Dōgen's version), and people had been bitching about the fancy 袈裟 and other robes monks were wearing since <i>at least</i> the Skirt-Slashing Incident of the 12th century.

But since Zen patriarchs in China had a tendency to say shocking things just to say them, I have to wonder about Dōgen here.


So was Koizumi just following Dōgen's bas-couture when he encouraged kuuru-bizu?

language hat:

I fear him not: he has no sword!


MMS: It's true, although Dogen is one of the less sensational famous Zen teachers, I think. ("Now let's talk more about the importance of sitting quietly.") Certainly no comparison to Japan's drinking, womanizing, "crazy" priests (sadly) of lore.

Re the 60 words: That's Pink Tentacle's turf! And they really do such a thorough job that there is nothing left to say (except "Whoa, age age is on the _2008_ list?" maybe.)

But I will have my revenge. Just wait until the next big story about a dictionary of an endangered language breaks... Hat shall know sorrow!

Leonardo Boiko:

What's supposed to be disgusting or objectionable with 9?


I'm not sure, to be honest. Maybe it's not so much objectionable as it is an item you can accept knowing that you are inconveniencing no-one?

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