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Unformatted text preview: tly refused to dispatch its own missions again to China, kept officials
permanently stationed at a commandery near Hakata to oversee the import trade and to requisition choice luxury goods for sale and distribution
among the Kyoto aristocrats. When the Taira, with the backing of the The Advent of a New Age 83 abdicated emperors at court, became influential in the western provinces
in the twelfth century, they naturally took a keen interest in—and eventually monopolized—the highly profitable maritime trade with China.
China of the Sung dynasty (960–1279) was a changed country from
the expansionist, cosmopolitan land of T’ang times that the Japanese had
so assiduously copied in their Great Reform several centuries earlier.
China could no longer serve as a giant conduit for the flow of world art
and culture to remote Japan. From its founding, the Sung dynasty was
harassed by barbarian tribes pressing in from the north and northwest.
And indeed, just as the Taira assumed a commanding position in Japan’s
burgeoning overseas trade in the early twelfth century, North China fell
to foreign invaders. The Sung—known henceforth as the Southern Sung
(1127–1279)—moved its capital from Kaifeng in the north to Hangchow
south of the Yangtze delta, where it remained until overthrown by the
Mongols of Khubilai Khan in 1279.
Despite political woes and territorial losses, the Sung was a time of
great advancement in Chinese civilization. Some scholars, impressed by
the extensive growth in cities, commerce, maritime trade, and governmental bureaucratization in the late T’ang and Sung, have even asserted
that this was the age when China entered its “early modern” phase. The
Sung was also a brilliant period culturally. No doubt most of the major
developments of the Sung in art, religion, and philosophy would in time
have been transmitted to Japan. But the fortuitous combination of desire
on the part of the Sung to increase its foreign trade with Japan and the
vigorous initiative taken in maritime ac...
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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