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Aoriyae

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Aoriyae was a local deity of the northern Ryukyu Islands associated with wind, rain, water, and military force. The term also came to refer to priestesses dedicated to this deity; based at Nakijin on Okinawa Island, the Aoriyae priestess may have been the most powerful woman in the islands prior to the rise in stature and influence of the Kikôe-ôgimi in the 16th century.

Possibly originated as a well-water deity on Kumejima, Aoriyae later came to be associated with the war god Hachiman, and is described in the Omoro sôshi as an "island-smashing priestess," the word shima ("island") in Okinawan referring not only to physical islands but also to any well-defined settlement or community.

Aoriyae is often described in the Omoro as acting within, or otherwise being associated with, a sacred space called shike. Some have suggested a connection between this shike and sacred spaces on Tsushima and elsewhere known as shigechi.

References

  • Gregory Smits, Maritime Ryukyu, University of Hawaii Press (2019), 32-33.
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