Unformatted text preview: ssible by the peculiarities of Heian marriage customs. Usually, although not invariably, courtiers of this age established formal residence
in the homes of their wives. From the contemporary literature it appears
that the typical courtier kept one or more secondary wives and mistresses and frequently was lax in visiting his principal wife, perhaps not
calling upon her more than once or twice a month. Yet, the principal
wife’s home remained their joint residence and it was there that the children were raised. Although emperors did not actually move in with their
Fujiwara wives, the offspring of such unions were reared in the mansions of the maternal relatives. Between the late ninth and late eleventh
centuries, emperors without exception were the sons of Fujiwara mothers,
and in view of their upbringing no doubt identified themselves as closely
with the Fujiwara as with the imperial family.
Even as the Fujiwara began their rise to power, the court reached the
decision to terminate official relations with China. One reason for this
decision, made sometime after the last mission of 838,5 was that the
T’ang dynasty had fallen into decline and China was no longer a safe
place for travel; but perhaps more fundamental was the fact that the Japanese did not feel the same need as before to look to China for guidance
and inspiration. The long period of cultural borrowing, begun some two
and a half centuries earlier, had at last come to an end.
The Japanese court of the late ninth century not only severed official
relations with China; it also gradually withdrew from all but the most
necessary dealings with the provinces of Japan itself. In contrast to its 58 The Court at Its Zenith cosmopolitanism in the Nara period, the court in the tenth century became isolated to an extraordinary degree from the rest of Japanese society.
Of the various causes for this isolation, one of the most decisive was the
court’s system of ministerial ranking by which infinitely greater luster and
prestige was bestowed upon officials in the capital than upo...
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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