Organized Panel Session
Rainmaking rituals are as old as human history and each society maintained its own particular rainmaking activities in one form or another. In most cases, rainmaking was not only about general climate or productivity concerns vis-à-vis drought, but often was tied up in social and cultural issues such as belief systems or political authorities. This panel examines rainmaking activities throughout East Asia by drawing on case studies from Japan, Korea, Tibet, and China. Its approach is to outline the commonalities among the cases while also attending to distinctiveness across different cultures in order to better understand the variegated dynamics behind Asian populations’ efforts to cope with the ever-present threat of natural calamities. Steven Trenson’s paper looks at Heian Japan’s rainmaking rituals that connected belief in the jewel of the dragon to the divinity of imperial sovereignty. Hyung Chan Koo’s paper applies cognitive science to interpretative issues in the Korean Joseon dynasty’s official rainmaking ritual to show how the same set of rituals could be interpreted in different ways. Hanung Kim examines that rainmaking in Inner Asia was absorbed and transformed by Buddhism and how it helped contribute to Tibetan Buddhism’s resurgence in late pre-modern Inner Asia. Jihong Ou concludes the panel with a case study from early Republican China, investigating how the conflicts between two camps of rainmakers and the Republican government demonstrates China’s social and cultural transformations in the early 20th century. With a final discussion, the panel promises sophisticated transnational insights into this ever- and omnipresent human activity.