Toshiba Lectures in Japanese Art: Heian Japan in the east Asian World: Cross Currents in Art and culture

Date: 5 November 2010, 18.15 / 10 November 2010, 18.15 / 18 November 2010, 18.00
Venue: The British Museum, BP Lecture Hall, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG / School of Oriental and African Studies, Brunei Lecture Theatre, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG / Norwich Cathedral Hostry (Weston Room), Norwich NR1 4EH
Venue: The Sainsbury Institute
Tel: 01603 624349
Organiser: The Sainsbury Institute
Some Peacocks, A Parrot, and the Heian World in Global Perspective
Friday 5 November 6.15pm
BP Lecture Theatre, British Museum

Two Supernovae and the Buddhist Astronomical Imagination in Japan of the 11th Century
Wednesday 10 November 6.15pm
Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Kiyohira’s Golden Tomb: The North Asian Factor in Japanese Culture of the 12th Century
Thursday 18 November 6.00pm
Norwich Cathedral Hostry (Weston Room), Norwich NR1 4EH

Modern day scholarship have been too focused on putative insularity to realize just how amazing – and ‘modern’ – the Kyoto world was, with leaders like Michinaga and Yukinari, who were confident enough to send Japanese statues to the Song emperor Zhenzong.

This series of lectures demonstrates that Kyoto in the Heian period was one of the most important players in a transmarine cultural system encompassing East Asia after the fall of the Tang dynasty in 907.

The diaries of Heian courtiers show that Kyoto boasted a community of patrons who were engaged in the East Asian geopolitical theater to a remarkable degree.
Their activities – from art production to political maneuvering via monastic diplomats – gave Japan a global role in the medieval world that helps to explain why, in due course, the Mongols and Iberians were attracted to its shores.

In fact it is possible to say that the aristocrats of Kyoto, even as they pursued the native tastes for which they are celebrated, were among the most cosmopolitan of communities in a medieval world from Europe to Eurasia that scholars now recognize as defined by ongoing cross-border exchange and cultural engagement.

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