Unformatted text preview: ll is one of the earliest pictorial records we have of the
samurai, their mounts, armor, weapons, and methods of fighting.
There will be occasion in the next chapter to comment on one or two
more emaki as they appear in the development of medieval culture. Fig. 30 “Burning of the Sanjò Palace”: a scene from the Heiji Scroll depicting fighting between the Minamoto and Taira in 1159 (Museum
of Fine Arts, Boston) 5 The Canons of Medieval Taste The chieftain who emerged during the course of the Minamoto-Taira
War of 1180–85 as the supreme commander of Minamoto forces was
Yoritomo (1147–99). Unlike Kiyomori, the Taira leader who died in
1181, the second year of the war, Yoritomo deliberately avoided entanglement in court politics in Kyoto. Instead, he remained at Kamakura, his
base in the Kantò, throughout the war, treating the pursuit and destruction of the Ise Taira as secondary to the establishment of control over the
eastern heartland of samurai society.
The government that Yoritomo founded at Kamakura is known in
English as the shogunate, after the title of shogun (“generalissimo”) that
the Minamoto chieftain received from the imperial court. Creation of this
exclusively military organization marked the beginning of the medieval
era of Japanese history, an era that lasted until the commencement of
early modern times at the end of the sixteenth century.
There is no question that the Kamakura shogunate represented a radically new form of government in Japan, situated far from the traditional
seat of courtier authority in the central provinces and staffed by warriors
who were related by feudal ties of personal loyalties. Yet the shogunate
was in no sense a rebel regime; on the contrary, it was founded and operated in an entirely “legitimate” fashion. Yoritomo, who remained ever
deferential in his formal dealings with the court, was careful to secure
imperial sanctification both for his own position and for the important
administrative acts of the new shogunate, such as the expansion of its
power to the national level through the appointm...
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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