The Heian Period Learning Target: I can identify why the Heian Period has been called the “Golden Age of Japan”. HSS 7.5.5
Heian Period (794-1185 AD) • The emperor of Japan moved his capital to the city of Heian (now Kyoto) in 794 AD. • Many royals then set up a court in Heian to be near the emperor. • In Heian, nobles lived lives of luxury that were much different from the lives of the common people of Japan.
Court Life in Heian • The focus of noble life during the Heian Period was luxury. They wanted to find as much beauty as possible. • Nobles spent much of their day creating art or viewing artistic performances.
Golden Age of Literature • Poetry - famous forms of Japanese poetry include haiku and tanka. • Literature - during this time many Japanese novels were written by Japanese noble women. (Japanese men wrote books in the Chinese language.) • The world’s first full length novel, The Tale of Genji, was written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu. • Most noble women kept journals about their lives at court. The Pillow Book is and example of a lady’s journal.
Golden Age of Art • Nobles loved to create art. • Watercolor paintings of landscapes and illustrations of stories were very popular. • Paintings were used to decorate homes and furniture. Painted fans were also popular. • Calligraphy (decorative writing) was also popular with nobles. They spent many hours copying poetry. • Architecture (building design) was an important art form. Many shrines, palaces and temples were designed during this time.
Performing Arts • Japanese nobles considered performing undignified, but they loved to watch jugglers, musicians, acrobats and dramas. • The first Japanese dramas were written for puppets. This is called bunraku. • Later dramas, called Noh plays, featured live actors and focused on hero tales.
Fashion • Noble women placed a high value on fashion. If a women appeared in society without following strict rules of dress, she would be shamed and ostracized. • The nobles had wardrobes full of silk robes, and gold jewelry. Both men and women wore kimonos. • Women wore elaborate outfits such as long gowns made of 12 layers of colored silk which were cleverly cut and folded to show off many layers at once. • Both men and women carried fancy, painted fans.
Appearance and Beauty • The perfect face was round and white with a tiny mouth. • Both men and women applied large amounts of white powder to their faces. • All women and many men blackened their teeth with an iron substance. • Women shaved their eyebrows and painted two small black artificial eyebrows high on their foreheads. • Women grew their hair as long as possible, with the hopes that the hair would be longer than the person was tall. • People were advised to sleep only at night so no one would see them sleeping since they were believed to be uglier when lying down.