Kaneh Bosm = Cannabis = Ma
- Kaneh Bosm = Cannabis = Ma
See reports here, Please join us on our forum by registering and join
in this thread of Witch Hunt and Cannabis.
A minister here is advance a study, the study of the witch hunt on
Can anyone help the research find the trail back from China to India
(we suppose) and we think in Vedic/Sanscrit there clues.
Does Chinese word derivation migrate from those parts of the world?
Or did the Chinese characters and language sort of just pop out of
We trying to think through that Shen Nung (Nong), etc, was a/the
prototypical model for Jesus.
Since Shen Nong is a Chinese Mythical Diety, it is a high possibly
Shen-Nong was a reality in Sanscrit/Vedic and Sanscrit/Vedic just did
not pop out of somewhere, usually, it came in from outer space of was
developed over time by who and how.
We even have story that Ma/Kaneh Bosm/Cannabis was transspermia or
brought in in cargo bays from above down to earth.
Anybody here can try to join us in the thc-ministry.net forum and go
through this with us?
http://paranoia.lycaeum.org/marijuana/images/shen-nung2.gif (is that
plant in hands Calamus or .... )
Millions of years ago, humanoid creatures descended from the trees in
Africa. These first men stood erect, their eyes peering into the
beyond, their hands grasping rudimentary weapons and tools, ready to
bend nature to their will.
The descendants of these first men wandered into almost every corner
of the earth and evolved into four main racial groups: the Negroids,
Australoids, Mongoloids, and Caucasoids. Each race, living under
different climatic conditions and in virtual isolation from one
another, developed special physical characteristics to enable them to
survive in their particular part of the world. Along with these
physical traits there emerged rudimentary cultures as distinct as the
colors of their skins. Some communities relied primarily on hunting
for survival, refining their skills and weapons through the ages to
capture prey and eventually to conquer and enslave rival communities.
Others subsequently discovered that the seeds and leaves of certain
plants would appease hunger and sustain life. Once they became
farmers, men gave up their spears and knives for plowshares and
permanent settlements came into being.
The earliest civilizations sprouted along the banks of great rivers -
the Hwang-Ho in China, the Indus in India, the Tigris and Euphrates
in Mesopotamia (where biblical scholars have sought in vain for
traces of the Garden of Eden), and the Nile in Egypt. The soil along
these riverbanks was particularly suited for agriculture, being rich
and deep and invigorated annually by new deposits of silt.
Whether they remained hunters or became farmers, the people who lived
long before the written word was invented, discovered through trial
and error the best materials for shaping, molding, bending, twisting,
and sharpening objects into tools. In each civilization these
discoveries were much the same; the only differences were the
materials at hand.
On the basis of artefacts and the history of China in its later
years, archaeologists now assure us that hemp has been a familiar
agricultural crop in China from the remote beginnings of settlement
in that part of the world down to our own time. When the Chinese went
about testing materials in their environment for suitability as
tools, they most certainly would have looked into the possibility of
using hemp whenever they required some kind of fiber.
Cannabis in China
The earliest record of man's use of cannabis comes from the island of
Taiwan located off the coast of mainland China. In this densely
populated part of the world, archaeologists have unearthed an ancient
village site dating back over 10,000 years to the Stone Age.
Scattered among the trash and debris from this prehistoric community
were some broken pieces of pottery the sides of which had been
decorated by pressing strips of cord into the wet clay before it
hardened. Also dispersed among the pottery fragments were some
elongated rod-shaped tools, very similar in appearance to those later
used to loosen cannabis fibers from their stems. These simple
pots, with their patterns of twisted fiber embedded in their sides,
suggest that men have been using the marijuana plant in some manner
since the dawn of history.
The discovery that twisted strands of fiber were much stronger than
individual strands was followed by developments in the arts of
spinning and weaving fibers into fabric - innovations that ended
man's reliance on animal skins for clothing. Here, too, it was hemp
fiber that the Chinese chose for their first homespun garments. So
important a place did hemp fiber occupy in ancient Chinese culture
that the Book of Rites (second century B.C.) ordained that out of
respect for the dead, mourners should wear clothes made from hemp
fabric, a custom followed down to modern times.
While traces of early Chinese fabrics have all but disappeared, in
1972 an ancient burial site dating back to the Chou dynasty (1122-249
B.C.) was discovered. In it were fragments of cloth, some bronze
containers, weapons, and pieces of jade. Inspection of the cloth
showed it to be made of hemp, making this the oldest preserved
specimen of hemp in existence.
The ancient Chinese not only wove their clothes from hemp, they also
used the sturdy fiber to manufacture shoes. In fact, hemp was so
highly regarded by the Chinese that they called their country
the "land of mulberry and hemp".
The mulberry plant was venerated because it was the food upon which
silkworms fed, and silk was one of China's most important products.
But silk was very expensive and only the very wealthy could afford
silken fabric. For the vast millions of less fortunate, cheaper
material had to be found. Such material was typically hemp.
Ancient Chinese manuscripts are filled with passages urging the
people to plant hemp so that they will have clothes. A book of
ancient poetry mentions the spinning of hempen threads by a young
girl. The Shu King, a book which dates back to about 2350 B.C.,
says that in the province of Shantung the soil was "whitish and
rich...with silk, hemp, lead, pine trees and strange stones..." and
that hemp was among the articles of tribute extorted from inhabitants
of the valley of the Honan.
During the ninth century B.C., "female man-barbarians," an Amazon-
like dynasty of female warriors from Indochina, offered the Chinese
emperor a "luminous sunset-clouds brocade" fashioned from hemp, as
tribute. According to the court transcriber, it was "shining and
radiant, infecting men with its sweet smelling aroma. With this, and
the intermingling of the five colors in it, it was more ravishingly
beautiful than the brocades of our central states."
Ma, the Chinese word for hemp, is composed of two symbols which are
meant to depict hemp. The part beneath and to the right of the
straight lines represent hemp fibers dangling from a rack. The
horizontal and vertical lines represent the home in which they were
As they became more familiar with the plant, the Chinese discovered
it was dioecious. Male plants were then clearly distinguished from
females by name (hsi for the male, chu for the female). The Chinese
also recognised that the male plants produced a better fiber than the
female, whereas the female produced the better seeds. (Although
hemp seed was a major grain crop in ancient China until the sixth
century A.D., it was not as important a food grain as rice or
Hemp fiber was also once a factor in the wars waged by Chinese land
barons. Initially, Chinese archers fashioned their bowstrings from
bamboo fibers. When hemp's greater strength and durability were
discovered, bamboo strings were replaced with those made from hemp.
Equipped with these superior bowstrings, archers could send their
arrows further and with greater force. Enemy archers, whose weapons
were made from inferior bamboo, were at a considerable disadvantage.
With ineffectual archers, armies were vulnerable to attack at
distances from which they could not effectively return the hail of
deadly missiles that rained upon them. So important was the hemp
bowstring that Chinese monarchs of old set aside large portions of
land exclusively for hemp, the first agricultural war crop.
In fact, every canton in ancient China grew hemp. Typically, each
canton tried to be self-sufficient and grow everything it needed to
support its own needs. When it couldn't raise something itself, it
grew crops or manufactured materials that it could trade for
essential goods. Accordingly, crops were planted around homes not
only because of the suitability of the land, but also because of
their commercial value. The closer to the home, the greater a crop's
Because food was essential, millet and rice were grown wherever land
and water were available. Next came vegetable gardens and orchards,
and beyond them the textile plants, chiefly hemp. Next came the
cereals and vegetables.
After the hemp was harvested by the men, the women, who were the
weavers, manufactured clothes from the fibers for the family. After
the family's needs were satisfied, other garments were produced for
sale. To support their families, weaving began in autumn and lasted
The Invention of Paper
Among the many important inventions credited to the Chinese, paper
must surely rank at the very top. Without paper, the progress of
civilization would have advanced at a snail's pace. Mass production
of newspapers, magazines, books, notepaper, etc, would all be
impossible. Business and industry would come to a standstill without
paper to record transactions, keep track of inventories, and make
payments of large sums of money. Nearly every activity we now take
for granted would be a monumental undertaking were it not for paper.
According to Chinese legend, the paper-making process was invented by
a minor court official, Ts'ai Lun, in A.D. 105. Prior to that time,
the Chinese carved their writings onto bamboo slips and wooden
tablets. Before the invention of paper, Chinese scholars had to be
physically fit if they wished to devote their lives to learning. When
philosopher Me Ti moved around the country, for example, he took a
minimum of three cartloads of books with him. Emperor Ts'in Shih
Huagn, a particularly conscientious ruler, waded through 120 pounds
of state documents a day in looking after his administrative duties!
 Without some less weighty writing medium, Chinese scholars and
statesmen could look forward to at least one hernia if they were any
good at their jobs.
As a first alternative to these cumbersome tablets, the Chinese
painted their words on silk fabric with brushes. But silk was very
expensive. A thousand silkworms working day in and day out were
needed to produce the silk for a simple "thank you" note.
Ts'ai Lun had a better idea. Why not make a table out of fiber? But
how? Producing writing tablets the way clothes were manufactured, by
patiently intermingling individual fibers was not practical. There
had to be some other way to get the fibers to mix with one another in
a lattice structure that would be sturdy enough not to fall apart.
No one knows how Ts'ai Lun finally discovered the secret of
manufacturing paper from fiber. Perhaps it was a case of trial and
error. However, the method he finally devised involved crushing hemp
fibers and mulberry tree bark into a pulp and placing the mixture in
a tank of water. Eventually, the fibers rose to the top all tangled
together. Portions of this flotsam were then removed and placed in a
mold. When dried in such molds, the fibers formed into sheets which
could then be written on.
When Ts'ai Lun first presented his invention to China's arm-weary
bureaucrats, he thought they would react to it with great enthusiasm.
Instead, he was jeered out of court. Since no one at court was
willing to recognize the importance of paper, Ts'ai Lun decided that
the only way to convince people of its value was through trickery. He
would use paper, he told all who would listen, to bring back the
With the help of some friends, Ts'ai Lun feigned death and had
himself buried alive in a coffin. Unknown to most of those who
witnessed the internment, the coffin contained a small hole; through
it, a hollow bamboo shoot had been inserted, to provide the trickster
an air supply.
While his family and friends mourned his death, Ts'ai Lun patiently
rested in his coffin below the earth. Then, some time later, his
conspirators announced that if some of the paper invented by the dead
man were burned, he would rise from the dead and once again take his
place among the living. Although highly sceptical, the mourners
wished to give the departed every chance, so they set a sizable
quantity of paper ablaze. When the conspirators felt that they had
generated enough suspense, they exhumed the coffin and ripped of the
cover. To the shock and amazement of all present, Ts'ai Lun sat up
and thanked them for their devotion to him and their faith in his
The resurrection was regarded as a miracle, the power of which was
attributed to the magic of paper. So great an impression did the
Houdini-like escape create that shortly thereafter the Chinese
adopted the custom, which they still follow to this day, of burning
paper over graves of the dead.
Ts'ai Lun himself became an overnight celebrity. His invention was
accorded the recognition it deserved and the inventor was appointed
to an important position at court. But his fame was his undoing. As
the new darling at court, rival factions sought to win him over to
their side in the never-ending squabbles of life among the rich and
powerful. Without meaning to, Ts'ai Lun became embroiled in a power
battle between the empress and the emperor's grandmother. Court
intrigue was simply too much for the inventor, and when he was
subsequently summoned to give an account of himself, instead of
appearing before his inquisitors, his biography states that he went
home, took a bath, combed his hair, put on his best robes, and drank
Although entertaining, the story of Ts'ai Lun's invention is
apocryphal. The discovery of fragments of paper containing hemp fiber
in a grave in China dating back to the first century B.C., puts the
invention long before the time of Ts'ai Lun. Why Ts'ai Lun was given
credit for the invention, however, is still a mystery.
The Chinese kept the secret of paper hidden for many centuries, but
eventually it became known to the Japanese. In a small book entitled
A Handy Guide to Papermaking, dating back to the fifth century A.D.,
the author states that "hemp and mulberry... have long been used in
worshipping the gods. The business of paper making therefore, is no
It was not until the ninth century A.D. that the Arabs, and through
them the rest of the world, learned how to manufacture paper. The
events that led to the disclosure of the paper-making process are
somewhat uncertain, but apparently the secret was pried from some
Chinese prisoners captured by the Arabs during the Battle of
Samarkand (in present-day Russia).
Once the Arabs learned the secret, they began producing their own
paper. By the twelfth century A.D., paper mills were operating in the
Moorish cities of Valencia, Toledo, and Xativa, in Spain. After the
ousting of the Arabs from Spain, the art became known to the rest of
Europe, and it was not long before paper mills were flourishing not
only in Spain, but in France, Italy, Germany, and England, all of
them using the ancient Chinese system "invented" by Ts'ai Lun.
During the course of its long history in China, hemp found its way
into almost every nook and cranny of Chinese life. It clothed the
Chinese from their heads to their feet, it gave them material to
write on, and it became a symbol of power over evil.
Like the practice of medicine around the world, early Chinese
doctoring was based on the concept of demons. If a person were ill,
it was because some demon had invaded his body. The only way to cure
him was to drive the demon out. The early priest-doctors resorted to
all kinds of tricks, some of which were rather sophisticated, like
drug therapy, which we will examine shortly. Other methods involved
outright magic. By means of charms, amulets, spells, incantations,
exhortations, sacrifices, etc., the priest-doctor did his utmost to
find some way of getting the upper hand over the malevolent demon
believed responsible for an illness.
Among the weapons to come out of the magical kit bag of the ancient
Chinese conjurers were cannabis stalks into which snake-like figures
were carved. Armed with these war hammers, they went to do battle
with the unseen enemy on his home ground - the sickbed. Standing over
the body of the stricken patient, his cannabis stalk poised to
strike, the priest pounded the bed and commanded the demon to be
gone. If the illness were psychosomatic and the patient had faith in
the conjurer, he occasionally recovered. If his problem were organic,
he rarely improved.
Whatever the outcome, the rite itself is intriguing. Although there
is no way of knowing for sure how it came about, the Chinese tell a
story about one of their emperors named Liu Chi-nu that may explain
the connection between cannabis, snakes, and illness. One day Liu was
out in the fields cutting down some hemp, when he saw a snake. Taking
no chances that it might bite him, he shot the serpent with an arrow.
The next day he returned to the place and heard the sound of a mortar
and pestle. Tracking down the noise, he found two boys grinding
marijuana leaves. When he asked them what they were doing, the boys
told him they were preparing a medicine to give to their master who
had been wounded by an arrow shot by Liu Chi-nu. Liu Chi-nu then
asked what the boys would do to Liu Chi-nu if they ever found him.
Suprisingly, the boys answered that they could not take revenge on
him because Liu Chi-nu was destined to become emperor of China. Liu
berated the boys for their foolishness and they ran away, leaving
behind the medicine. Some time later Liu himself was injured and he
applied the crushed marijuana leaves to his wound. The medicine
healed him and Liu subsequently announced his discovery to the people
of China and they began using it for their injuries.
Another story tells of a farmer who saw a snake carrying some
marijuana leaves to place on the wound of another snake. The next day
the wounded snake was healed. Intrigued, the farmer tested the plant
on his own wound and was cured.
Whether these stories had anything to do with the idea that marijuana
had magical power or not, the fact is that despite the progress of
Chinese medicine far beyond the age of superstition, the practice of
striking beds with stalks made from marijuana stems continued to be
followed until the Middle Ages.
Although the Chinese continued to rely on magic in the fight against
disease, they also gradually developed an appreciation and knowledge
of the curative powers of medicines. The person who is generally
credited with teaching the Chinese about medicines and their actions
is a legendary emperor, Shen-Nung, who lived around the twenty-eighth
Concerned that his priests were suffering from illness despite the
magical rites of the priests, Shen-Nung determined to find an
alternate means of relieving the sick. Since he was also an expert
farmer and had a thorough familiarity with plants, he decided to
explore the curative powers of China's plant life first. In this
search for compounds that might help his people, Shen-Nung used
himself as a guinea-pig. The emperor could not have chosen a better
subject since he was said to possess the remarkable ability of being
able to see through his abdominal wall into his stomach! Such
transparency enabled him to observe at firsthand the workings of a
particular drug on that part of the body.
According to the stories told about him, Shen-Nung ingested as many
as seventy different poisons in a single day and discovered the
antidotes for each of them. After he finished these experiments, he
wrote the Pen Ts'ao, a kind of herbal or Materia Medica as it later
became known, which listed hundreds of drugs derived from vegetable,
animal, and mineral sources.
Although there may originally have been an ancient Pen Ts'ao
attributed to the emperor, no original text exists. The oldest Pen
Ts'ao dates back to the first century A.D. and was compiled by an
unknown author who claimed he had incorporated the original herbal
into his own compendium. Regardless of whether such an earlier
compendium did or did not exist, the important fact about this first-
century herbal is that it contains a reference to ma, the Chinese
word for cannabis.
Ma was a very popular drug, the text notes, since it possessed both
yin and yang. The concepts of yin and yang that pervade early Chinese
medicine are attributed to another legendary emperor, Fu Hsi (ca,
2900 B.C.) whom the Chinese credit with bringing civilization to
the "land of mulberry and hemp". Before Fu Hsi, so the legends say,
the Chinese lived like animals. They had no laws, no customs, and no
traditions. There was no family life. Men and women came together
instinctively, like salmon seeking their breeding ground; they mated,
and then went off on their separate ways.
The first thing Fu Hsi did to produce order out of chaos was to
establish matrimony on a permanent basis. The second thing was to
separate all living things into the male and female principle - the
male incorporating all that was positive, the female embodying all
that was negative. From this dualistic principle arose the concept of
two opposing forces, the yin and the yang.
Yin symbolized the weal, passive, and negative feminine influence in
nature, whereas yang represented the strong, active, and positive
masculine force. When these forces were in balance, the body was
healthy. When one force dominated the other, the body was in an
unhealthy condition. Marijuana was thus a very difficult drug to
contend with because it contained both the feminine yin and the
Shen-Nung's solution to the problem was to advise that yin, the
female plant, be the only sex cultivated in China since it produced
much more of the medicinal principle than yang, the male plant.
Marijuana containing yin was then to be given in cases involving a
loss of yin from the body such as occurred in female weakness
(menstrual fatigue), gout, rheumatism, malaria, beri-beri,
constipation, and absentmindedness.
The Pen Ts'au eventually became the standard manual on drugs in
China, and so highly regarded was its author that Shen-Nung was
accorded the singular honour of deification and the title of Father
of Chinese Medicine. Not too long ago China's drug guilds still paid
homage to the memory of Shen-Nung. On the first and fifteenth of each
month, many drugstores offered a 10 percent discount on medicines in
honor of the legendary patron of the healing arts.
As physicians became more and more familiar with the properties of
drugs, ma continued to increase in importance as a therapeutic agent.
In the second century A.D., a new use was found for the drug. This
discovery was credited to the famous Chinese surgeon Hua T'o, who is
said to have performed extremely complicated surgical procedures
without causing pain. Among the amazing operations he performed are
organ grafts, resectioning of intestines, laparotomies (incisions
into the loin), and thoracotomies (incisions into the chest). All
these difficult surgical procedures were said to have been rendered
painless by means of ma-yo, an anaesthetic made from cannabis resin
and wine. The following passage, taken from his biography, describes
his use of cannabis in these operations:
But if the malady resided in the parts on which the needle
[acupuncture], cautery, or medicinal liquids were incapable of
acting, for example, in the bones, in the stomach or in the
intestine, he administered a preparation of hemp [ma-yo] and, in the
course of several minutes, an insensibility developed as if one had
been plunged into drunkenness or deprived of life. Then, according to
the case, he performed the opening, the incision or the amputation
and relieved the cause of the malady; then he apposed the tissues by
sutures and applied linaments. After a certain number of days the
patient finds he has recovered without having experienced the
slightest pain during the operation.
Although modern research has borne out marijuana's anaesthetic
properties and has shown that alcohol does indeed augment many of
marijuana's actions, it is unlikely that Hua T'o could have produced
total insensibility to pain by the combination of these drugs unless
he administered so much of them that his patients lost consciousness.
While ma's stature as a medicinal agent began to decline around the
fifth century A.D., it still had its advocates long into the Middle
Ages. In the tenth century A.D., for example, some Chinese physicians
claimed the drug was useful in the treatment of "waste diseases and
injuries", adding that it "clears blood and cools temperature, it
relieves fluxes; it undoes rheumatism; it discharges pus".
An Early Psychedelic
Since the Chinese are the first people on record to use the marijuana
plant for their clothes, their writing materials, their confrontation
with evil spirits, and in their treatment of pain and disease, it is
not surprising that they are also the first people on record to
experience marijuana's peculiar psychedelic effects.
As so many other testimonials to marijuana's multifaceted past have
been found interred deep within the bowels of the earth, so too was
the proof of China's early flirtation with marijuana's intoxicating
chemistry found buried away in an ancient tomb. Rather than any piece
of cloth or handful of seeds, however, the evidence takes the form of
an inscription containing the symbol for marijuana, along with the
adjective or connotation meaning "negative".
Unfortunately, we will never know what the gravediggers had in mind
when they were chiselling these words in granite. Was it just a
mindless piece of graffiti? Even if it were, it indicates that the
Chinese were well aware of marijuana's unusual properties from very
ancient times, whether they approved of them or not.
Many did not approve. Due to the growing spirit of Taoism which began
to permeate China around 600 B.C., marijuana intoxication was viewed
with special disdain. Taoism was essentially a "back to nature"
philosophy which sought ways of extending life. Anything that
contained yin, such as marijuana, was therefore regarded with
contempt since it enfeebled the body when eaten. Only substances
filled with yang, the invigorating principle in nature, were looked
Some Chinese denounced marijuana as the "liberator of sin". A
late edition of the Pen Ts'au asserted that if too many marijuana
seeds were eaten, they would cause one to "see demons". But if taken
over a long time, "one can communicate with the spirits".
However, by the first century A.D., Taoists became interested in
magic and alchemy, and were recommending addition of cannabis
seeds to their incense burners. The hallucinations thus produced were
highly valued as a means of achieving immortality.
For some people, seeing spirits was the main reason for using
cannabis. Meng Shen, a seventh-century physician, adds, however, that
if anyone wanted to see spirits in this way, he would have to eat
cannabis seeds for at least a hundred days.
The Chinese have always been a highly reserved people, a nation
rarely given to excesses. Temperance and restraint are cherished
virtues of their society. But these are ideal traits, not always easy
to live up to. And on more than one occasion, the waywardness of
segments of the Chinese population was denounced by the authorities.
In a book attributed to Shen-Nung's successor, the "yellow emperor",
for example, the author felt that alcoholism had truly gotten out of
Nowadays people use wine as a beverage and they adopt recklessness as
usual behaviour. They enter the chamber of love in an intoxicated
condition; their passions exhaust their vital forces; their cravings
dissipate their essence; they do not know how to find contentment
with themselves; they are not skilled in the control of their
spirits. They devote all their attention to the amusement of their
minds, thus cutting themselves off from the joys of long life. Their
rising and retiring is without regularity. For these reasons they
reach only one half of the hundred years and then they degenerate.
Alcohol, in fact, was a much more serious problem in China than
marijuana, and opium overshadowed both in the attention it later
received. The Chinese experiment with marijuana as a psychoactive
agent was really more of a flirtation than an orgy. Those among the
Chinese who hailed it as the "giver of delight" never amounted to
more than a small segment of the population.
As in China, hemp fiber was highly regarded among the Japanese and
figured prominently in their everyday lives and legends.
Hemp (asa) was the primary material in Japanese clothes, bedding,
mats and nets. Clothes made of hemp fiber were especially worn during
formal and religious ceremonies because of hemp's traditional
association with purity in Japan. So fundamental was hemp in
Japanese life that it was often mentioned in legends explaining the
origins of everyday things, such as how the Japanese earthworm came
to have white rings around its neck.
According to Japanese legend, there were once two women who were both
fine weavers of hemp fiber. One woman made fine hemp fabric but was a
very slow worker. Her neighbor was just the opposite - she made
coarse fabric but worked quickly. During market days, which were held
only periodically, it was customary for Japanese women to dress in
their best clothes, and as the day approached, the two women began to
weave new dresses for the occasion. The woman who worked quickly had
her dress ready on time, but it was not very fashionable. Her
neighbor, who worked slowly, only managed to get the unbleached white
strands ready, and when market day came, she didn't have her dress
ready. Since she had to go to market, she persuaded her husband to
carry her in a large jar on his back so that only her neck, with the
white undyed hemp strands around it would be visible. In this way,
everyone would think she was clothed instead of being naked inside
the jar. On the way to the market, the woman in the jar saw her
neighbor and started making fun of her coarse dress. The neighbor
shot back that at least she was clothed. "Break the jar", she told
everyone who could hear, "and you will find a naked woman". The
husband became so mortified that he dropped the jar, which broke,
revealing his naked wife, clothed only in hemp strands around her
neck. The woman was so ashamed as she stood naked before everyone
that she buried herself in the earth so that she would not be seen
and she turned into an earthworm. And that, according to the
Japanese, is why the earthworm has white rings around its neck.
Hemp fiber also played a part in love and marital life in Japan.
Another ancient Japanese legend tells of a soldier who had been
romancing a young girl and was about to bid her farewell without
giving her as much as his name, rank, or regiment. But the girl was
not about to be jilted by this handsome and charming paramour.
Unbeknownst to her mysterious lover, she fastened the end of a huge
ball of hemp rope to his clothing as he kissed her farewell. By
following the thread, she eventually came to the temple of the god
Miva, and discovered that her suitor had been none other than the god
Besides its roles in such legends, hemp strands were an integral part
of Japanese love and marriage. Hemp strands were often hung on trees
as charms to bind lovers (as in the legend), gifts of hemp were
sent as wedding gifts by the man's family to the prospective bride's
family as a sign that they were accepting the girl, and hemp
strands were prominently displayed during wedding ceremonies to
symbolize the traditional obedience of Japanese wives to their
husbands. The basis of the latter tradition was the ease with
which hemp could be dyed. Just as hemp could be dyed to any color, so
too, according to an ancient Japanese saying, must wives be willing
to be "dyed in any color their husbands may choose".
Yet another use of hemp in Japan was in ceremonial purification rites
for driving away evil spirits. As already mentioned, in China evil
spirits were banished from the bodies of the sick by banging rods
made from hemp against the head of the sickbed. In Japan, Shinto
priests performed a similar rite with a gohei, a short stick with
undyed hemp fibers (for purity) attached to one end. According to
Shinto beliefs, evil and impurity cannot exist alongside one another,
and so, by waving the gohei (purity) above someone's head the evil
spirit inside him would be driven away.