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1 Yamato as Empire in the Sinoscript Sphere

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Chapter Summary

This chapter provides a re-reading of the diplomatic relations between the Sinic empires, the states on the Korean peninsula, and Yamato, and proposes a different account of how Yamato came to portray itself as an imperial state. It argues that traditional assumptions of the centrality of the Sinic empires and the peripheral role of the states on the Korean peninsula are re-evaluated. The chapter begins with three critiques of the idea of a classical "East Asian World". The first concerns the ways in which it has been defined as a "self-contained system", to use Nishijima Sadao's phrase. The second involves the concept of a "cultural" sphere, and the elements that distinguish the East Asian world from other world regions: the Sinoscript, Confucianism, Buddhism, and the ritsuryō system. The third concerns Nishijima's premise that the formation of a common culture depends on the prior establishment of a structure of political relations.

Keywords: Buddhism; Confucianism; East Asian World; Korean peninsula; Nishijima Sadao's phrase; political relations; ritsuryō system; Sinic empires; Yamato

10.1163/9789004264540_004
/content/books/b9789004264540_004
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