Essays and Articles

Japanese Historical Chronology - Nara Period

Friday, August 28, 2015

JAPANESE HISTORICAL CHRONOLOGY

We often refer to different periods in Japanese history in the description of our products.  So we're going to put together a series of blog posts on each era/period, with accompanying images of the style of sculpture and art common to each. We'll start with the Nara period since references to earlier periods aren't readily available.

NARA PERIOD: AD 710-794

"In 710, the Japanese capital was moved from Fujiwarakyo to Heijokyo (modern Nara). The period until 794, including ten years in Nagaokakyo, is known as the Nara period.

Buddhism was established as the state religion under the devout patronage of Emperor Shōmu (reigned 724-749). His reign, known as the Tempyō era, was a period of high intellectual and cultural achievement. Temple architecture, Buddhist painting and sculpture were strongly influenced by Tang dynasty China through official missions and the exchange of monks and students. Shōmu established provincial temples (kokubunji) throughout the country. Visitors came also from India and other Asian countries and many diverse objects from this period are preserved in the imperial treasure-house, the Shōsōin at Todaiji.

The Nara period marked the height and also the decline of the Chinese-inspired ritsuryō system of government. The emperor was the undisputed head of the country. A Grand Council of State presided over eight ministries and the country was divided into provinces each with a governor. There was strict allocation of land, and taxation based on rice and produce. This foreign system was not entirely suited to Japan and there were times of great poverty and unrest. After Shōmu's death, the political and social situation grew more unstable. This led to the move of the capital to Nagaokakyo, and finally to Heiankyo, where a new beginning could be made"

Ref: Excerpt obtained from The British Museum

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