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Re: [SCA-JML] women's issues

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  • Anthony J. Bryant
    ... It also depends vastly on WHOM we are talking about. Are we talking common folk, buke, kuge, clerical families, artisan s families? What period are we
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 10, 2000
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      Andrea Gideon wrote:

      > > . It
      > > all depends on what your social class is of course.

      It also depends vastly on WHOM we are talking about. Are we talking common
      folk, buke, kuge, clerical families, artisan's families? What period are we
      talking about? Japan's history is not the history of a monolith where nothing
      ever changes over time and things are constant through the entire strata of

      > Here's one specific question. Would a high-ranking woman nurse her own
      > children or would she have a wetnurse, like every other culture I've
      > researched.

      Wetnurses. In Heian Japan, for example, the wetnurse and the child develop a
      very special relationship that lasts through life, and allows her special
      perks with the kid as an adult that others not related couldn't have. There's
      also another term (which I can't seem to recall now but I seem to recall being
      something like "breast brother") for the son of the wetnurse, who is of course
      the same age as the client child, who grows up next to the noble child in
      question and typically becomes a close friend/confidant. In the Genji
      Monogatari, IIRC, Koremitsu, Genji's confidant, is Genji's wetnurse's son.

      > So far, one is 1 1/2 and another is on the way. Do the Japanese swaddle
      > their babies?

      In Heian Japan, yes; I don't know about later habits with kids. Most texts
      don't talk about these issues.

      > and if so, for how long? Some cultures have a ceramony when
      > the swaddling is finished.

      My understanding is that when the child is old enough to walk the child wears
      real clothing. The difference is that

      > Some cultures have a ceramony when it's time
      > for boys to be dressed as men (most european cultures dress them as girls
      > prior to this).

      This happens at the Genpuku, at the age of c. 13. Young boys aren't dressed as
      girls per se, but they don't wear adult clothing. (This only holds for the
      upper classes, of course -- lower classes can't afford special garments and
      kids just wear miniature clothing.) Girls have a "mogi" which is their first
      wearing of a mo, and takes place c. the age of 12 or 13 and marks her entry
      into the world of adulthood.

      About the age of 5 (somewhere between 3 and 7), a ceremony is held called the
      "hakamagi" or "chakugo" (alternate readings of the same characters, meaning
      "hakama wearing" where the boy wears a hakama for the first time. As part of
      the festivities, the child stands on a go board and has to pick up a go stone
      with his toes. (Hey, I don't make this stuff up...) Both boys and girls have
      this ceremony, according to my sources.

      By the Momoyama Period, for boys of the samurai classes all this would really
      mean was the wearing of the courtcap and the cutting of the hair in an adult
      style (which reflects its other old name, "uikouburi", or "first hatting"), as
      the boy was probably already wearing miniaturized adult clothing. In the kuge
      world there was still the tradition of moving to adult clothing.

      > Would a pregnant woman be secluded her whole pregnancy?
      > Would she be secluded for a certain time afterward? This is the kind of
      > info I'm looking for.

      Definitely in the latter part as she was preparing for childbirth. In Heian
      Japan, for example, especially in the court, birth was seen as a polluting
      defilement (as was menstruation, an old Shinto thing) and the woman was
      removed to her own place somewhere. Even today in modern Japan it seems to be
      common that women having babies go to live with their mothers during the last
      few weeks... that certainly was the case with my boss, and a couple of my
      friends. The baby is named at its seventh day.

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