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8943Re: Looking for suggestions for Kofun and Yayoi.

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  • daviem01 <ellen.m.davis@att.net>
    Dec 22, 2002
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      > The text in Wajinden is, unfortunately, formulaic in a way (the
      > tended to portray *all* barbarians in the same light, so we can't
      really be
      > sure how much is hyperbole and how much is true accounting.

      Very true. Did Himiko really have 1000 maidservants? :)

      There are some little things, though, that definitely pop out as
      uniquely Japanese:
      "In their worship, the high-ranking men simply clap their hands
      together instead of bowing in the kneeling position."
      "The lower arm of their bows is shorter, and the upper arm longer."
      And, of course, "People enjoy liquor." :D
      Silly barbarians!

      > >
      > > -Place: somewhere within the Kansai area. In particular, there
      is a
      > > shrine in Osaka city called Tamatsukuri Inari Jinja which has
      > > supposedly been there since 20 BCE or so,
      > Interesting. I'll have to visit the shrine next time I'm out that
      way! Have
      > you ever been there?

      No, I've just heard about it recently (there's an excellent book on
      past and present Inari worship that mentions it). It's an unusual
      example of an Inari shrine because the normal wishing jewel imagery
      is here replaced entirely by magatama, reflecting the age and
      historical background of the shrine and its surroundings.

      I'm compiling a list of everywhere I need to go when I return to
      Japan. Unfortunately, it would probably take me several years.
      When's the next SCA-JML trip?

      > > -Job/Family: a member of a priestly organization, lineage or
      > > corporation. The problem here is that we know about a large
      > > of the uji (lineages/clans) and be ("corporations"/guilds) in
      > > Japan, but I haven't yet been able to pin down exactly when those
      > > actually APPEARED, and none of the books I've consulted has been
      > > precise on that subject.
      > Not surprising. Any that did would be guesstimating at best, I'm

      Well, I read a little more since that last post and there's one idea
      that says that the be really didn't appear in their "typical" form
      until middle or late Kofun, when individual family lineages started
      to become more important than general clan affiliation. Only then
      did the "be" came into formal existence as sort of "pseudo-clans",
      when the same thing (groups of workers related by blood) had really
      been there all along in a much more informal way.

      Interesting theory, and it does make a lot of sense from an
      anthropological viewpoint. (There's also a suggestion that this same
      decline in the importance of clan affiliation may have contributed to
      the rise of Buddhism in Japan, but that's an entirely different

      > This is a more interesting question. I'm personally a big fan of the
      > Mononobe and the Ôtomo myself (yeah, I know there's that whole
      > thing... <G>). There are quite a few interesting families and a lot
      > happening, but you have to move into the later Kofun period to hit
      > where recorded history as we know it provides enough clues to fully
      > anything.

      It looks like Yayoi-period clans had an elite, ruling lineage
      segment, and other segments which had some sort of hereditary linkage
      to certain jobs or functions within society, although it wasn't quite
      as rigid as the be later on.

      In that sense, I could portray myself as a member of any clan-- but
      as a member of a "sub-lineage" that performed a sort of priestly duty
      such as divination (later the role of the Urabe), the keeping of
      taboos (Imibe), or similar. Some members of my lineage group do this
      job, and some do not; those that do perform that function may do it
      for the general populace, and some do it in the capacity of direct
      assistants to the elites.

      (I particularly like the idea of being a diviner...come by my tent at
      Pennsic and I'll fry up some oracle bones for ya! <G>)

      It's iffy, but given what I'm reading about the period, it would be a
      reasonable way to represent the likely structure of the society. Of
      course, there is still the name issue, and I may never come up with
      anything I can be remotely confident is accurate.

      > I wish I could come up with some. Have you read Gina
      Barnes' "Protohistoric
      > Yamato"? It's an archaeological book -- not really cultural or
      historical --
      > but its got some interesting things. I'd also recommend William
      > Farris' "Sacred Treasures," although that tends to focus more on
      > Asuka/Fujiwara/Nagaokakyô.

      I have not read Barnes' book yet, but that was next on my Amazon wish
      list. Archaeological books are absolutely fine with me-- that's my
      educational background, so I don't get intimidated by most of the
      jargon. <g>

      One that I've been reading recently is Koji Mizoguchi's "An
      Archeological History of Japan: 30,000 BC to AD 700". I can honestly
      say it's one of the best-written and most interesting archeological
      texts I've seen in a long time. It focuses on how the physical
      topography of Jomon, Yayoi and Kofun sites reflect the mental,
      social, and spiritual "topography" of life in those periods, and
      presents a lot of interesting ideas about how any individual person
      might have perceived his or her position within the society and the
      larger world.

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