In the yayoi period however rice itself became just

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Unformatted text preview: note. Jòmon had been a classless society primarily because it had no particular commodity that could be accumulated or stored as wealth. In the Yayoi period, however, rice itself became just such a commodity, and as it was accumulated and stored the grain stratified society into differing classes according to wealth as measured primarily by the possession (or nonpossession) of it. For the rest of the premodern period, rice remained the principal standard of wealth in Japan. In addition to the archaeological record, knowledge of Japan in the early centuries a.d. may be found in the dynastic histories of China. To the Chinese of this age, the Japanese were one of a number of lesser breeds of people existing beyond the borders of their great Middle Kingdom. Accordingly, they relegated the accounts of Japan to the sections in their histories dealing with barbarian affairs. The Chinese called Japan the land of Wa (which they wrote with a character that means “stunted” or “dwarfed”) and, in their earliest account of it, dating from about the first century b.c., described Wa as consisting of “one hundred”—probably meaning a great many— countries or tribes. They recorded that the people of Wa periodically sent missions to China during the first and second centuries a.d., including one that visited the court of Emperor Kuang-wu of the Later Han dynasty in 57 and received from the emperor a gold seal investing Wa as a tribute-bearing state. In the late eighteenth century (1784) a seal fitting the description of the one bestowed by Kuang-wu was found by farmers near Hakata Bay in northern Kyushu. For the great majority of scholars who accept it as authentic, this seal lends important support to the general factuality of the Chinese dynastic accounts of Wa. In the late second and early third centuries there were disorders in Wa that led to political consolidation and the establishment of a territorial hegemony under a queen named Himiko (or Pimiko). The Chinese observed that [Himiko] occupied hers...
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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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