27 p 85 they could be easily moved about and often

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Unformatted text preview: rly small plots of land, usually not more than two and a half acres or so in size. The typical shinden mansion consisted of a main building facing southward—the shinden or “living quarters” of the master of the family —and three secondary buildings to the east, west, and north. All four structures were raised about a foot above the ground and were connected by covered corridors. There were also two additional corridors leading southward to miniature fishing pavilions that bordered on a small lake with an artificial island in its center. The lake was usually fed by a stream flowing from the northeast, often under the mansion itself, and it was by the stream’s banks that the courtiers enjoyed gathering for poetry parties. At such parties, a cup of rice wine was floated downstream and, as it came to each guest, he was obliged to take it from the water, drink, and recite a verse. Like modem Japanese homes, those of the Heian courtiers had partitions, sliding doors, and shutters that could readily be removed to make smaller rooms into larger ones and to open the whole interior of a building to the out-of-doors. Also, like most homes in Japan today, the shinden were sparsely furnished. Although chairs were coming into general use in China about this time, they were not adopted by the Heian Japanese except for certain ceremonial purposes. A few chests, braziers, and small tables were the only objects likely to be left out in the open in shinden rooms and not stored away after use. One item of furniture that was unique to courtier society was the socalled screen of state, behind which ladies ensconced themselves when receiving visitors. Conspicuously depicted in the twelfth-century picture scrolls based on The Tale of Genji, the screens of state were wooden frames, several feet in height, with draperies hung loosely from their crosspieces (a screen of state can be observed in the foreground of fig. 27, p. 85). They could be easily moved about, and often came to represent the final fragile barrier to the Heian gallant in his quest to consummate a romantic liaison. 4 The Advent of a New Age The haniwa...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.

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