HEIAN REAL LIFE 2

The Heian Emperors still had a lot to say in politics and administration, but the real power in the country was tightly held by the Fujiwaras (see History of Japan, or click here for Fujiwara clansmen).

People at the Imperial Palace virtually knew nothing of the country and how it was governed; the ties with provinces were nominal.

 
   
     

 

 

 

The Fujiwaras were ousted by the Taira clan in mid-1100's. For a while scenes like this were scarcely seen, but after their power was consolidated life in Kyoto began to be felt like it used to in the Fujiwara reign.   Domestic scenes picked up by the Heian fine arts were characteristic of the era. Things like this painting were created for beauty rather than documentary purposes.
     

 

 

 

 

The Heian visual and literary lexicons seemed to be consisting of nothing than 'love', in whichever meaning of the word.

Click here for history of Japanese music and dance that involves Minamoto Hiromasa, Abe Seimei, and
the actor Nomura Mansai.
| Click here for Nomura Mansai's dance. | Click here for Nomura Mansai as flutist.

This would end in 1185 when the Minamoto clan exterminated every Taira around and Minamoto Yoritomo became Shogun. Life, then, became somewhat spartan, and would keep on being so until 17th century. Minamoto Hiromasa wouldn't have survived for long after his clan took control of Japan, if his swordsmanship stayed the way it was.
     

 

 

The most obvious trait of the Heian era lies in the fashion statements their denizen boldly manifested. Superlong unbound hair, thick rice-powder like today's kabuki makeup (both men and women wore it), super-red thinned lips, and thumb-prints instead of natural eyebrows were characteristic of this era, plus blackening of teeth for noblepersons. People in Heian, provided they were nobles, wore no less than 5 or 6 layers of clothing or even more, regardless of the weather.
   

 

 

A truly beautiful thing to watch, but actually infernal to wear. Every single thing on a Heianist has a meaning connected to social status and bureaucratic rank and state of mind of the time. Even how many folds are in your paper fan must be determined by your place in this world.

Postscript:
Imagawa Yoshimoto
| Oda Nobunaga

Also related to this page:
The OTHER Real-Life in Heian Era: The Way of the Warriors (this one isn't shown in the movie Onmyoji)

Even anime movies after the year 2000 take up Heian style in some of their main characters. But in real life, after the Minamoto clan took up power, the style was discarded by most because of the apparent discomfort warranted by it. The Minamoto shogunate wanted simpler apparel befitting warriors. Their taste was casual enough for the era. So, since 1185, only 2 or 3 layers of clothing were used in common. But other habits stayed the same (regarding makeup, blackened teeth, hairdo, etc.) until Oda Nobunaga's time. Even the warlord Imagawa Yoshimoto still dressed up like in the Kamakura period, or even Heianistic, in 1565.

 

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