Aristocratic Women of Ancient Japan

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  • Topic: Murasaki Shikibu, Fujiwara clan, Woman
  • Pages : 2 (634 words )
  • Download(s) : 151
  • Published : November 6, 2011
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In the mid-ninth century, Japan was highly stratified and genders were very much distinguished. However, because of the time period, women were generally not included in the noble affairs. Many aristocratic women instead developed Japan’s first native literature. Murasaki Shikibu is considered the greatest author of this time, the Heian period, composing memoirs recording her court life and deep reflections. One of these works is called “Diary”, a piece of literature actually intended for publication. It effectively shows the circumstances of the female aristocracy in the Heian period.

In the text, Shikibu illustrates the role, attitude and thoughts of woman in Japan’s Heian period. The story begins with ladies attending an event for the birth of a Fujiwara family prince. All the woman at the dinner are expected to look “presentable”. When ordered to recite a poem, Shikibu does so in a very meek manner, despite the sophistication of the poem. At the dinner, noble men are described as being quite judgmental to the women, seeing the ladies as figures only of beauty. Shikibu goes on to make rather caustic remarks about the other woman at the event, showing her annoyance for the vain attitudes some of the women convey. She becomes hard on herself, writing that there is no excellence within her. The excerpt ends with showing general resentment towards certain people who are narrow-minded.

If a historian was to analyze this text, he might would surely raise some questions, some of which are answered in the text. For instance, one might ask what the significance of the author. This diary was written by an aristocratic woman, Murasaki Shikibu, in eleventh century Japan. The text and the events described show an interesting sophistication and literary accomplishment in Japanese aristocratic women. Still, the diary seems to display these woman as being mistreated. When Prime Minister’s brother sees the women he is “displeased to be received by ladies of low rank” and...
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