ASIA212Varley

The long period of cultural borrowing begun some two

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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.

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