Essay on The Contrast of the Heian-Era Courtier and the Kamakura Samurai

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The Contrast of the Heian-Era Courtier and the Kamakura Samurai
April 29, 2011

The Contrast of the Heian-Era Courtier and the Kamakura Samurai
The major periods that shaped Japan’s history and future were the Heian-era of Aristocracy and the Kamakura period of Samurai. The Heian-era and the Kamakura period are interesting because of their differences in social structure, tradition, and culture. In the Heian era, the aristocrat’s social class was sought by many because of their social and cultural status. When the warrior rise in the Kamakura age the social classes change dramatically between aristocrat and warrior. The Heian-era (794-1191) was an age of self development in Japan’s culture and tradition. Before the Heian-era, Japan
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The customs, traditions, and values of the aristocrats during the Heian-era were dissimilar to Kamakura period. The aristocrats lived in a world of charm and glamour, where appearance was highly value. Through paintings and literature we are able to study the aristocrats’ thoughts and ideas of beauty. The women at that time considered white teeth ugly and they would occasionally blacken their teeth.”Gleaming white teeth were thought to be horribly ghoul-like, so they were darkened” (Miller, 2006, p.21). Court women during that time also had long lavish hair that was almost capable of touching the ground. The men and women were plump and had fair skin. Plump and pale appearances of the aristocrats were seen as a sign of wealth and beauty. “…women and men whitened their faces with a variety of substances: a powder made from rice, a liquid made from the seeds of the jalap plant, or white lead mixed with some type of starchy substance” (Miller 2006, p.14). The aristocrats though the human figure was distasteful and regarded it as unattractive. They sought layers of clothes to enhance the beauty of the human figure.
The Heian age is generally known for the aristocratic women who contributed to literature, art, and society. In the early stages of the Heian period women were actively involved in the government and serve vital roles as officials. According to Adolphson, Kamens, and Matsumoto 2007,