Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Princess Mononoke - What is a Kodama? What is a mononoke?

Prince Ashitaka
In ancient times, the land lay covered in forests, where, from ages long past, dwelt the spirits of the gods. Back then, man and beast lived in harmony, but as time went by, most of the great forests were destroyed. Those that remained were guarded by gigantic beasts who owed their allegiances to the Great Forest Spirit, for those were the days of gods and of demons.
I have watched this movie time and time again to see if I could understand why it was called Princess Mononoke....but since the phrase was only refereed to once in Iron Town by the lady and the prince. I decided I would do some investigating to try and learn the whole story. First question for me to find was what in the world was a mononoke?

Mononoke - apparently a mononoke is a general term used to describe "a spirit of a thing" any sort of thing...an object or a monster or even a dead person. Usually the prisit of a bad or unfortunate unexplainable thing...so naturally the people of Iron town would consider San a spirit of something bad. The wolf girl is continuously trying to ambush and destroy Lady Eboshi, because the lady is trying to destroy the forest where the great forest spirit lives...so basically anything bad that happens is caused by malicious mononoke.
If you keep up with a Studio Ghibli you will notice that a Totoro is also a sort of a mononoke.

Forest God
 The Forest God may be considered a Mononoke...this god has the ability to give life and take life as he chooses.

Forest God

As he walks plants grow, but when he leaves
the plants wilt and die.

Kodama -actually means "echo" but a literal meaning for the word is "tree spirit"...but because of the language it was written in could possibly translate into small ball or small spirit. If a kodama appears in front of you it is a sign of good luck and that the forest is healthy. In the movie Princess Mononoke there are literally thousands of these little spirits hanging around a great big tree. Kodama have the ability to turn transparent at will.
However some believe the kodama will lead the real forest spirit, a huge deer with a human face, right to them...

Princess Mononoke - Kodama

Princess Mononoke - kodama

Forest Spirits

Prince Ashitaka and Kodama

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