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Unformatted text preview: for this failure was the lack of coordination between the two units of the Mongol force, one of which set sail
from southern Korea and the other from Ningpo in south China; another was the stone wall the Japanese built around Hataka Bay; and still The Canons of Medieval Taste 107 another was the effectiveness of the samurai counterattacks in small boats.
Remnants of the stone wall can still be found at Hakata, and we have a
splendid representation of it as well as other features of and scenes from
the invasions in the famous Mongol Scroll, painted in the late thirteenth
century, shortly after the invasions.
One of the most interesting things we learn from the Mongol Scroll is
that the Mongols fought mainly on foot: only their commanders appear
on horseback in the scroll. Although I speak of the “Mongols,” the invading forces also included many Chinese and Koreans. In any case, the
image of these invaders presented in the Mongol Scroll is very different
from the one we have of the Mongol armies, formed primarily into units
of light cavalry, that conquered much of Asia—and even parts of eastern
Europe and the Middle East—during the late twelfth and thirteenth
In the end, it appears to have been the typhoons that defeated the
Mongols. To the Japanese, these typhoons were not mere accidents of
nature but rather kamikaze or “divine winds” sent by the gods to save
their country in its hour of greatest peril. Belief in kamikaze was part of
a great Shinto revival during the Kamakura period, one of the principal
claims of which was that the true defenders of Japan were the kami of
Shinto rather than the deities of Buddhism, as had been maintained by
Buddhists for centuries. In later times, the kamikaze concept exerted a
powerful influence on the Japanese myth—finally shattered in World War
II—of national invincibility.
The Mongol threat was an important, but not sole, cause for the decline of the Kamakura shogunate in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Another was the emergence in various reg...
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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.
- Spring '13