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[SCA-JML] Re: Fealty and Nihonjin in the Society

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  • Kass McGann
    There are regular discussions concerning fealty on various SCA mailing lists, but they are generally from the point of view of European attitudes. What about
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 10, 2000
      There are regular discussions concerning fealty on various SCA mailing
      lists, but they are generally from the point of view of European
      attitudes. What about we nihonjin? How should we view fealty to our
      lord, and/or to the Crown and kingdom, and how should we react if the
      one we are sworn to demands something that is either unwise or
      dishonorable?

      Yumitori
      >>>>
      Yumitori-dono e,

      This brings up an interesting question: where are we? The SCA's take on us
      is that we non-Western personae are visitors from foreign lands to a Western
      Court. So you could really do either. I have a friend who is a Japanese
      persona and a Landed Baron (not Hiraizumi-dono) and he styles himself
      "Baron" because he is the Baron of a Western Court. Yet if I were in the
      same position as he, I would use the Japanese titles and system and all
      that... as long as my Barony was into it too.

      Personally, I try to keep to the Japanese way of doing things in all matter,
      but it is admittedly hard in a Society based on Western ideals. For
      example, I swore fealty to my Master, Ohashi Katsutoshi, in a Japanese-style
      ceremony wherein he provided me with cloth and rice (food and clothing) for
      my livelihood. But I am also a member of a household that has nothing to do
      with my Master. If we were really in Japan (or even Europe in this case), I
      would live in my Master's house and no longer be part of my "family." But
      in the SCA, Toshi didn't deem it necessary to make me quit my hosuehold to
      be his apprentice.

      Don't know if I answered anything, but these are my thoughts on the
      subject...

      Aoi
    • Barbara Nostrand
      Noble Cousins! This notion of a generic Western medieval court is pure horse manure at best. (Note, horse manure can at least be used for
      Message 2 of 4 , Feb 10, 2000
        Noble Cousins!

        <Froth mode on> This notion of a "generic Western medieval court" is
        pure horse manure at best. (Note, horse manure can at least be used
        for fertilizer, so I am being generous.) Some of the folks who have
        vociferously argued again Japanese at Society events have put forward
        counterfactual conjectures concerning the pope's reaction to Japanese
        and all sorts of other sillyness.

        The Society has NO real sense of whereness or whenness in any sort of
        European context if you were to bother to significantly research a
        specific European time and place. In fact, many of these notions of
        "ethnic purity" would simply not work in Europe. Either the Europeans
        would be busy considering their next door neighbours to be horrendoulsy
        alien or they would be involved in one of the cosmopolitain times or
        places such as Constantinople/Byzantium at just about any time.
        (As I recall, Marco Polo was horrified to find Buddhist Monks in the
        court of the Byzantine emperor.) Most fundimentally, these notions
        of ethnic purity direct the Society toward our own modern and
        predominantly American fantasies concerning the middle ages and away
        from learning about what was. This is inherently elitist as the
        boundaries of the Society are thereby defined by those with a signifant
        Social power base. Actual HISTORY (meaning investigations) on the
        other hand is a game which any moderately intelligent person can learn
        to play reasonably well in any area that sufficiently interests them.
        HISTORY is therefore inherently both egalitarian and meritricious.

        Conclusion. What can you do? In the Middle Kingdom, behaviour in
        court is determined by the Great Book of Cerimony which distorts
        the behaviour of someone interested in 9th century Achen every bit
        as much as the behaviour of someone interested in Heijokyo. The
        East Kingdom tends to be a bit more forgiving as court is traditionally
        bended to accomodate the interests of both the reigning nobility and
        award recipients who are called into court. With ANY kingdom, personal
        fealty between individuals other than territorial nobility is a
        PERSONAL matter and can be arranged as the parties to the fealty so
        choose. (That is a matter of Corpora. Yes, some kingdoms do traditionally
        promote public personal fealty ceremonies in court, but this is not a
        matter originating with Corpora.) <Froth mode off.>

        Now then, Japanese kinship patterns can be very interesting. One
        notion of family found in Japan was that a family consisted of a
        group of cohabitating people. So in that sense, yes you would
        become a member of another family if you were in certain kinds
        of relationships. Some of the final tea certificates collected
        by tea masters today make them cadet members of house which they
        have been studying under. The problem with doing this
        in the Society is that we are not well set up to accomodate this
        sort of thing. This is actually a problem for in-depth recreation
        of quite a few groups and not just Japanese or East Asians. If
        you will recall, Western Nobility regulalry farmed out their
        children to other nobles and Western apprentices went to live
        with their masters. But, as modern people, we have difficult
        organizing our lives this way at Pennsic and similar events.
        Ohohashi Dono was land agent for a group of people who mundanely
        live close to each other. His was a very good encampment, but it
        was not really (to the best of my limitted knowledge) a theme
        encampment. What you can of course do is imagine that you live
        with Ohashi on a regular basis and that you are also a member
        of some other association which perpetuates your attachment to
        your household.

        Your Humble Servant
        Solveig Throndardottir
        Amateur Scholar
      • Kass McGann
        This notion of a generic Western medieval court is pure horse manure at best. (Note, horse manure can at least be used for fertilizer, so I
        Message 3 of 4 , Feb 10, 2000
          <Froth mode on> This notion of a "generic Western medieval court" is
          pure horse manure at best. (Note, horse manure can at least be used
          for fertilizer, so I am being generous.) Some of the folks who have
          vociferously argued again Japanese at Society events have put forward
          counterfactual conjectures concerning the pope's reaction to Japanese
          and all sorts of other sillyness.
          >>>>
          Oh Amen Sister! I mean, I wasn't trying to imply that I buy any of the
          Society's official protestations. I mean, what indeed would a 10th century
          noblewoman from Heian-kyo being doing so far from the Capital? Surely she
          would have died of loneliness if the journey went farther than Suma...

          What I was trying to get across is that you don't have to do Japanese fealty
          relationships just because you are Japanese. You can do Japanese or Western
          and both would work in the context of the Society. I was saying that we
          have a choice. Personally I chose to do things as the Heian-jidai court
          would have done it. But as you well know, many of those things are
          difficult or impossible. So I try to get as close as I can. But I
          certainly wouldn't blame two Japanese personae for having a Western-style
          fealty relationship.
          >>>>
          Now then, Japanese kinship patterns can be very interesting. One
          notion of family found in Japan was that a family consisted of a
          group of cohabitating people. So in that sense, yes you would
          become a member of another family if you were in certain kinds
          of relationships. Some of the final tea certificates collected
          by tea masters today make them cadet members of house which they
          have been studying under. The problem with doing this
          in the Society is that we are not well set up to accomodate this
          sort of thing. This is actually a problem for in-depth recreation
          of quite a few groups and not just Japanese or East Asians. If
          you will recall, Western Nobility regulalry farmed out their
          children to other nobles and Western apprentices went to live
          with their masters. But, as modern people, we have difficult
          organizing our lives this way at Pennsic and similar events.
          Ohohashi Dono was land agent for a group of people who mundanely
          live close to each other. His was a very good encampment, but it
          was not really (to the best of my limitted knowledge) a theme
          encampment. What you can of course do is imagine that you live
          with Ohashi on a regular basis and that you are also a member
          of some other association which perpetuates your attachment to
          your household.
          >>>>
          Yes, I would be happier if it worked better according to the Japanese model,
          but... The only theme of House Thornwood is "ARCHERY"! But that's cool.
          That's them. Toshi's household is not Japanese at all but mine is and I
          prefer to stick with mine even though he is my Master (of course this caused
          some confusion at first with my oyakata-sama who thought I was leaving the
          household...). In my apprenticeship arrangement my ties to my household
          were honoured, though that was a little weird...

          Thanks for fleshing all this out.

          Aoi
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