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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
[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.
- Spring '13