Folklore & Myth Thursday – Week 10 – J

Welcome to Week 10! This week I’ll be looking and some of the (perhaps) lesser known characters, folklore, and mythological entities that start with the letter J. This week’s topics are Japa Mala, Jiza, Jambudvipa, Julunggul, and Jurupari.

Rudraksha beads.jpgJapa Mala

The sacred prayer strings of Hindu monks (Nozedar, 2010:132). Japa Mala “consist of 108 beads, since 108 is a sacred number in the Dharmic religions” (Nozedar, 2010:132). See also rudraksha beads in Nozedar (2010:132).

Photo: By User:Nesusvet – Own work, Public Domain, Link


Jizo is a Japanese Buddha deity (Tresidder, 2004:263). “Jizo is depicted as an innocent, childlike character, venerated as a protector of the souls of children and unborn babies” (Nozedar, 2010:97). Tresidder (2004:263) also notes: “Jizo looks after anyone in pain and is believed to bring souls back from hell. Together with Amida and Kannon he is one of the three most popular deities of Japanese Buddhism” (Tresidder, 2004:263).

Jizo Children.jpg
By The original uploader was Mind meal at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY 2.0, Link


“The circular continent at the centre of the world, according to Hindu and Jain myth” (Tresidder, 2004: 258). At the centre of the continent is Mount Mandara/Meru “which was used by the Asuras and Devas to churn the ocean” (Tresidder, 2004:258). (See this post for this myth told in full.) “Jambudvipa is ringed by the great Salt Ocean and by another seven continents and seven seas” (Tresidder, 2004:258).

Map of Jambudvipa Indian Hindu Cosmology.jpg
By Internet Archive Book ImagesImage from page 35 of “A comprehensive history of India, civil, military, and social, from the first landing of the English to the suppression of the Sepoy revolt; including an outline of the early history of Hindoostan” (1900), No restrictions, Link


Julunggul is also called Kalseru and, in “the Australian Aboriginal pantheon… is the rainbow serpent Goddess of Fertility who oversees the maturation of boys into men” (Nozedar, 2010:508). Julunggul created the landscape itself and “is the embodiment of water” (Nozedar, 2010:508). Nozedar (2010:508) also notes that “Julunggul resembles other serpent deities, including Owa in the Toruban tradition and Damballah in Voudon”.


According to the Tupi people of Amazonian Brazil, Jurupari is a “child of the sun who overthrew the rule of women” (Tresidder, 2004:269). “In their version of the myth found widely from the Amazon to Tierra del Fuego, the Tupi recount how women, not men, originally ruled the world” (Tresidder, 2004:269).

Tresidder (2004:269) recounts how the “sun grew angry at this and took a wife, Ceucy, a virgin, whom he made pregnant by the sap of the cucura tree.” Jurupari is born and he transfers “all power and sacred wisdom to men [and tells them to] celebrate their power by holding feasts from which women were excluded on pain of death” (Tresidder, 2004:269).

Jurupari, to make an example, even causes his own mother’s death. “To this day Jurupari is said to wander the world looking for the perfect wife for his father, the sun” (Tresidder, 2004:269).


Nozedar, A. (2010). The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook. London: Harper Collins Publishers.

Tresidder, J. (2004). The Complete Dictionary of Symbols in Myth, Art and Literature. London: Duncan Baird Publishers.

The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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