Aesthetics of Womanhood in Heian Japan
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This study acts as a response to questions surrounding the position of women in the Heian court as encountered by earlier scholars. To that end this study examines the construction of the Heian concept of femininity with regard to both women of the lady-waiting and elite classes, as illustrated in diaries and court records. The findings indicate that the aesthetic of womanhood oftentimes related to an ideal of female passivity in romantic relations with men and of selflessness in involvement in major court decisions. This aesthetic was physically manifested in the attention given to the sequestration of women of high rank. However, evidence suggests that this aesthetic did not mean that women were not influential, in part because this aesthetic was an ideal that did not necessarily reflect reality.