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Unformatted text preview: nd masks of
wood and dry lacquer used in gigaku, a form of dance learned from China
that was popular at Buddhist temples during the Nara period.
The imported objects come from virtually every part of the known
world of Asia and Europe—including China, Southeast and Central Asia,
India, Arabia, Persia, Assyria, Egypt, Greece, and Rome—and include a
vast variety of fabrics, household belongings, blown and cut glass,
ceramicware, paintings, and statuary.
The outpouring of visual art in the Tempyò period was accompanied
by the first great blossoming of Japanese poetry. Although there are a
number of simple and artless songs in both the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki
and although efforts to poetize are very ancient in Japan, the compilation about mid-eighth century of the Man’yòshû (Collection of a Myriad
Leaves) marked the true beginning of the Japanese poetic tradition. A The Introduction of Buddhism 43 lengthy collection of some 4,500 poems, the Man’yòshû is not only
Japan’s first anthology but in the minds of many the finest, astonishing
as this may seem for so early a work. Some of the Man’yòshû poems are
spuriously attributed to emperors and other lofty individuals of the
fourth and fifth centuries, an age shrouded in myth, and a great many
more are anonymous. Its poems appear in fact to constitute a sampling
of composition from about the middle of the seventh century to the
middle of the eighth, although we cannot know how representative this
sampling is of all the poems that must have been written in Japan during
Several features of the Man’yòshû set it apart from later anthologies.
First, it possesses a kind of native freshness and youthful vigor in its verses
that was lost in later centuries after Japanese culture had been more fully
transformed by the influence of continental civilization. Second, its
poems appear to have been written by people from many classes of
society, including peasants, frontier guards, and even beggars, as well as
the aristocrats who through much of the premodern era completely
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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 UBC.
- Spring '13