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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Rituals in Okinawa and Amami
There are many varieties of ancient songs found in the area between Amami and Yaeyama, and one of these is called omoro. Omoro are songs sung between the 12th and the beginning of the 17th centuries in Amami and the Okinawa archipelago, which were collected together in the Omoro sōshi, compiled by the court in Shuri. The word omoro derives from a cognate meaning "thought" (umui) and indicates a thought expressed rhythmically. In some places, even today the sacred songs sung by priestesses at the altar are called umui. All are sung to a tune, and some incorporate dance. Omoro are the words concerning the deities uttered at festivals and rites; their subject matter is very diverse and includes court rituals, songs of praise of the king and the clan chieftains, hymns to the heavenly bodies, and songs about sailing, ship-building, constructing castles, taxation, trade and going into battle. The Omoro sōshi consists of 1554 songs (1248 without duplications). The first volume was compiled in 1531 and the second in 1613; the total 22 volumes were finished in 1623. It is possible to divide the periods when the songs were sung into the village period, the aji (clan chieftain) period and the period of the kingdom. It is also possible to divide the omuro between those sung at the political center and those sung in the outer districts.

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