The Pillow Book Timeline

The Pillow Book Timeline


Three Lives Three Worlds, The Pillow Book

The Pillow Book (三生三世枕上书), written by Tang Qi Gong Zi, is the second book in the Three Lives, Three Worlds series. This Chinese novel consists of two books, and the first volume was initially published in 2012 by the Hunan Literature and Art Publishing House, followed by the second volume in 2013. The books describe the love story between the nine-tailed fox queen of Qing Qiu, Bai Feng Jiu, and the first ruler of Heaven, Dong Hua Di Jun, spanning across three lives in three worlds. [ citation needed ]

According to Tang Qi Gong Zi, she wrote the series after wondering why people are so fascinated with immortality, and questioning what the world would be like if everyone can live such a long life. [1]

The original books have been translated by fans and professionals into many languages such as Thai, English, and Vietnamese.


Heian Period

In the resplendent aristocratic culture that thrived early in the eleventh century, a time when the use of the hiragana alphabet derived from Chinese characters had become widespread, court ladies played the central role in developing literature. One of them, Murasaki Shikibu wrote the 54-chapter novel (Tale of Genji) [in ealy 11 century, ca 1008 ?] , while another, Sei Shonagon , wrote (The Pillow Book), a diverse collection of jottings and essays [around 996 ] . Others also wrote diaries and stories, and their psychological portrayals remain fresh and vivid to present-day readers. The appearance of the (Tales of a Time That Is Now Past) around 1120 added a new dimension to literature. This collection of more than 1,000 Buddhist and secular tales from India, China, and Japan is particularly notable for its rich descriptions of the lives of the nobility and common people in Japan at that time.


The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon

I first encountered Sei Shonagon in a college course about the personal essay. We talked about her tone in the essay “Hateful Things,” and I wrote about the credibility of her critique.

“Hateful Things” is an interesting piece when considered as an essay because it doesn’t read like any other essay I read for that class. Like the rest of her The Pillow Book, it is partly a list, partly a personal journal entry, and mostly a personal ramble. Yet, Shonagon writes beautifully. It has an interesting organization to it, and from the beginning until the end, “Hateful Things” progresses from generic to personal in a beautiful way. Much of The Pillow Book is similarly personal, and the vibrant personality of the woman who wrote it makes The Pillow Book a delightful, fascinating, and important book to read.

Sei Shonagon collected her writings (a bundle of papers kept inside her pillow) in the late 900s A.D. in Japan while she was working as a lady in waiting to the empress. She may have had a somewhat lower-class upbringing, but her extensive reading and later employment by the empress made her critical of the lower classes. In short, she’s a bit of a snob. Add to the mix a propensity toward middle-of-the-night liaisons and her feminist leanings and Shonagon’s diary becomes not just historically significant but also delightfully amusing.

Nat at In the Spring it is the Dawn took the name of her blog from the first line of Shonagon’s book and says in her review “I like to think that if Sei Shonagon were alive today, she’d have a blog, and a fun one to read it would be too!” I have to agree. Shonagon is witty and sarcastic, honest and playful. I think she was born 1000 years too early, because she loved finding something, be it funny, annoying, or ironic, in the ordinary events of the day. And despite her claim that she “regret[s] that it ever came to light” (page 264) because people have been hurt by her criticisms, I still believe she would have delighted in an unknown international audience that blogging would have given her.

Because Shonagon lived more than 1000 years ago, her work is also an historical and cultural piece. I know nothing about Japan. In fact, I believe The Pillow Book was the first Japanese book I’ve ever read. I learned about the traditions of Heian Japan, including the necessity of proper poetic response to the poetic notes people sent. Although I like to think of myself as a creative person when it comes to writing, I can’t imagine my social status being dictated by the witty poems I write! I learned a little bit about the superstitions and religious traditions of the era, which I also was completely unfamiliar with. And I loved learning about life in a palace that wasn’t what I was used to hearing about (my only palace exposure previously has been Western, via fairy tales and Arthurian legends).

Because of my ignorance, it would have been very hard to follow the significance of Shonagon’s diary if not for the extensive notes by Ivan Morris. While Morris’s translation is 266 pages, he also includes 80 pages of notes that explain portions of the text and 20 pages of appendices with illustrations of clothes and layouts, details about the calendars and government, and timelines of Shonagon’s life. I wished the text was annotated instead, so I wouldn’t have had to flip back and forth for the entire book, but I loved all the information. I didn’t concern myself with trying to remember all the different names and customs, but I did enjoy learning about them. I suspect this is a book I must reread.

Ivan Morris’s translation is actually an abridgement of a larger, more detailed text. While I hadn’t realized that when I read, apparently most modern translations of The Pillow Book excise similar sections since they are lists that Shonagon wrote to help her remember things and have little interest to a modern reader. The sections that were included were fascinating, and I did find myself interested, even in the brief lists Shonagon kept, especially when they morphed into a personal ramble:

5. Different Ways of Speaking

14. Hateful Things

16. Things that Make One’s Heart Beat Faster

27. Trees

28. Birds

29. Elegant Things

30. Insects

32. Unsuitable Things

(These are just a few: the entire book is peppered with such lists.)

I also love the stories Shonagon included about palace life. Some of them are specifically about herself and experiences (such as 8.” The Cat Who Lived in the Palace”) but others are more generic. It’s as if she’s pretending it’s not her own story, such as 46. “A Lovers Visit,” in which Shonagon talks about “a lady” and her attendants. One can only assume it is her own story. My favorite section was 116. “When I First Went in Waiting.” By this section of the book, I was familiar with Shonagon’s outspoken personality and relationship with the empress and others at Court. To go back and revisit her first impressions of royalty and palace life was then quite entertaining. It was comforting to know that even Sei Shonagon, who was anything but shy, was nervous during her first days in the palace.

Shonagon also had sections dedicated to complaining about people and customs. She had sections delighting in people and customs. She wrote about everything that struck her, and as the introduction states, it’s possible Shonagon was writing some sections as idea-outlines for her possible future novels. Unfortunately, The Pillow Book is the only remaining text by Sei Shonagon, and her life after she left court in 1000 A.D. is unknown.

I call it a diary but The Pillow Book is so much more. It’s a beginner’s education in Japanese Court life. It’s a outline of future novels. It’s an outlet for frustration. It’s a personal history. In the end, I think it’s a fun read.

Do you read blogs by random people who talk about the everyday aspects of their life and yet you find it interesting simply because of how they write about it? Ironically, I don’t but I still enjoyed this book!

[Japanese Literature Challenge 3 because it’s classic Japanese literature]


Years: c. 900 - c. 1000 Subject: History, Early history (500 CE to 1500)
Publisher: HistoryWorld Online Publication Date: 2012
Current online version: 2012 eISBN: 9780191735530

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The Pillow Book Timeline - History

• Japan, 500-1000 A.D. [Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
"The introduction of Buddhism to the Japanese archipelago from China and Korea in the sixth century causes momentous changes amounting to a fundamentally different way of life for the Japanese. Along with the foreign faith, Japan establishes and maintains for 400 years close connections with the Chinese and Korean courts and adopts a more sophisticated culture." With a period overview, list of key events, and five related artworks.

• Asuka and Nara Periods [Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
A short introduction, with images of three artworks in the museum's collection.

• Early Japan (50,000 BC - 710 AD) [About Japan: A Teacher's Resource]
An overview of Japanese history from 50,000 BCE to 710 CE. Section 5 is about the Asuka period (called the Yamato period in this article).

Nara Period (710 to 794) Heian Period, (794 to 1185)

• Japan, 500-1000 A.D. [Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
"The introduction of Buddhism to the Japanese archipelago from China and Korea in the sixth century causes momentous changes amounting to a fundamentally different way of life for the Japanese. Along with the foreign faith, Japan establishes and maintains for 400 years close connections with the Chinese and Korean courts and adopts a more sophisticated culture." With a period overview, list of key events, and five related artworks.

• Asuka and Nara Periods [Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
A short introduction, with images of three artworks in the museum's collection.

• Nara and Heian Japan (710 AD - 1185 AD) [About Japan: A Teacher's Resource]
An overview of Japan's Nara and Heian periods. Discusses the Fujiwara family, their private estates, and the rise of the warrior.

• Heian Japan: An Introductory Essay [Program for Teaching East Asia, Center for Asian Studies, University of Colorado]
Essay highlighting the key points of Japanese history during the Heian Period, including the moving of the capital from Nara, the turning away from Chinese models, the Fujiwara family and the Heian aristocracy, and Buddhism in Japan. Part of a larger unit for teaching the Heian Period through art.

Video Unit • Classical Japan [Asia for Educators]
An introduction to Classical Japan covering the influence of Chinese culture on Classical Japan, the Imperial family, the Nara period, Buddhism, Shinto, the Japanese language, and Japanese poetry of the period. Featuring Columbia University professors Donald Keene, Carol Gluck, Haruo Shirane, and Paul Varley, and Asia Society President Emeritus Robert Oxnam. Section Topics:

• Todai-ji and the Shosoin Repository [Smart History]
"When completed in the 740s, Tōdai-ji (or 'Great Eastern Temple') was the largest building project ever on Japanese soil. Its creation reflects the complex intermingling of Buddhism and politics in early Japan. When it was rebuilt in the twelfth century, it ushered in a new era of Shoguns and helped to found Japan’s most celebrated school of sculpture. It was built to impress. Twice. The roots of Tōdai-ji are found in the arrival of Buddhism in Japan in the sixth century. Buddhism made its way from India along the Silk Route through Central Asia, China and Korea. Mahayana Buddhism was officially introduced to the Japanese Imperial court around 552 by an emissary from a Korean king who offered the Japanese Emperor Kimmei a gilded bronze statue of the Buddha, a copy of the Buddhist sutras (sacred writings) and a letter stating: 'This doctrine can create religious merit and retribution without measure and bounds and so lead on to a full appreciation of the highest wisdom.'"

• The Shosoin Repository and its Treasure (on the grounds of the Todai-ji) [Smart History]
"In the Japanese city, Nara, on the northwest rear corner of Tōdai-ji Temple’s Daibutsuden Hall stands a building largely unaltered since the 8th century. For almost 1200 years, until the twentieth century, it preserved in excellent condition approximately nine thousand artifacts from China, Southeast Asia, Iran, and the Middle East—a miscellany connecting ancient Japan to the cultural trade and artistic exchange of the Eurasian continent. While other collections worldwide hold treasures from the ancient Silk Roads, the Shōsōin is unique as a time capsule of the entire known world of its time—when Nara-period Japan glowed as a star in the brilliant cultural cosmos of Tang-dynasty China (618-907)."

• The Legends of Hachiman [Smith College Museum of Art]
From protector of the imperial house, to protector of the Minamoto military house, to protector of the nation, the legend of the Shinto deity, Hachiman, evolved throughout Japanese history. Hachiman was established as the protector of the imperial house through several key events in the Nara period (710-794). One of the most formative was Hachiman’s role in the construction of the huge Buddha statue (daibutsu) in Nara. At the time, Emperor Shōmu (701-756) issued an edict to build state-sponsored Buddhist temples in each province in Japan in order to protect the realm. The most important of these was the temple in the capital of Nara, Tōdai-ji, the upmost symbol of national unity and imperial rule. Through an oracle, Hachiman promised the discovery of copper and gold for the casting of the huge Buddha statue that would be housed there. With the successful completion of the project, Hachiman was honored for his invaluable help with first court rank. In this way, Hachiman became a protector of the imperial house. The site provides background on the scrolls, suggestions for viewing a handscroll, and questions for discussion.

Katakana, Hiragana, Kanji

• The Japanese Language [Asia for Educators]
This unit presents an overview of the Japanese language, both spoken and written. It includes a chart of the Japanese syllabary and discussion questions/student exercises.

• Japanese Syllabaries [Asia for Educators]
This unit provides an opportunity for students to practice writing both Japanese syllabaries — katakana and hiragana.

• Chinese Characters (Kanji) [Asia for Educators]
This unit provides the opportunity for students to read and write kanji, the Chinese characters used in the Japanese writing system.

Also see the Video Unit on Classical Japan in the History-Archaeology section (Nara and Heian Periods) for more about the Japanese use of the Chinese writing system .

Buddhism in Japan

• Japanese Buddhism [The Art of Asia, Minneapolis Institute of Arts]
A transcript of a video unit on Buddhism in Japan. See also the original media in flash.

• Buddhism in Japan [Asia Society]
"A short history of Buddhism, with special focus on its introduction and development in Japan. Includes an exploration of Zen Buddhism and art imagery."

• Buddhism and Japanese Aesthetics [ExEAS, Columbia University]
This unit provides a general introduction to three aesthetic concepts — mono no aware, wabi-sabi, and yûgen — that are basic to the Japanese arts and “ways” (). Secondly, it traces some of the Buddhist (and Shintô) influences on the development of the Japanese aesthetic sensibility.

Kukai, 774-835, founder of the Shingon or "True Word" school
Primary Source w/DBQs • "Indications of the Goals of the Three Teachings" (Sango Shiki) and "A School of Arts and Sciences" [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Also see the Video Unit on Classical Japan in the History-Archaeology section (Nara and Heian Periods) for more about Buddhism in Japan during this period .

Remaking the Japanese Government after the Chinese Model

• The Japanese Missions to Tang China, 7th-9th Centuries [About Japan: A Teacher's Resource]
"On nineteen occasions from 630 to 894, the Japanese court appointed official envoys to Tang China known as kentôshi to serve as political and cultural representatives to China. Fourteen of these missions completed the arduous journey to and from the Chinese capital. The missions brought back elements of Tang civilization that profoundly affected Japan's government, economics, culture, and religion." An in-depth article on the topic.

Prince Shôtoku, 573-621 Constitution, 604 CE
Primary Source w/DBQs • The Constitution of Prince Shôtoku [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Emperor Kôtoku, 596-654 Reform Edict, 646 CE
Primary Source w/DBQs • The Reform Edict of Taika [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Emperor Kammu, 737-806 Kondei System, 792 CE
Primary Source w/DBQs • The Kondei System: An Official Order of the Council of State [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Also see the Video Unit on Classical Japan in the History-Archaeology section (Nara and Heian Periods) for more about the influence of Confucianism on Prince Shôtoku's Constitution .

Poetry of the Manyôshû and Kokinshû

Manyôshû, compiled 7th century Kokinshû, compiled 8th to 10th centuries
Primary Source • The Manyôshû and Kokinshû Poetry Collections [Asia for Educators]
Excerpts from Japan's oldest collections of poems. The Kokinshû was the first collection of poems of the waka form. Followed by discussion questions.

Primary Source • What Is a waka? [Asia for Educators]
An essay about the history and structure of waka (also called tanka), a type of short poem from which the haiku was derived. Followed by discussion questions and classroom exercises.

Also see the Video Unit on Classical Japan in the History-Archaeology section (Nara and Heian Periods) for more about waka poetry and the Manyôshû and Kokinshû poetry collections .

Court Literature of the Heian Period: The Pillow Book (ca. 1002), The Tale of Genji (ca. 1021)

Multimedia • The Culture of Genji [Five College Center for East Asian Studies]
Webinar on Youtube with accompanying handout [PDF].

Multimedia • Tale of Genji [Annenberg/Invitation to World Literature]
Part of the Annenberg Invitation to World Literature series, this excellent introduction to the "Tale of Genji," with short, introductory video, excerpts, maps, slide images of landscape, key points, characters, themes, and more. Specialists providing short insights on video include Patrick Caddeau, Lisa Dalby, and David Damrosch.

• Literature of the Heian Period (794-1185) [Asia for Educators]
Two introductory readings on the aristocratic-court culture of the Heian Period, which produced such literary masterpieces as The Tale of Genji and The Pillow Book. One reading is for students the second reading is provides additional background information for teachers. Both readings are intended to serve as introductions to a lesson about The Tale of Genji, The Pillow Book, or waka.

Primary Source + Lesson Plan + DBQ • Writers of the Heian Era [Women in World History, Center for History and New Media, George Mason University]
An excellent teaching module for Heian-period literature, with four excerpts from The Pillow Book and two excerpts from The Tale of Genji, plus three images from a 12th-century scroll depicting The Tale of Genji. There is also a lesson plan for high school students, "An Intimate Glimpse: Lives of Court Women in Japan," and a document-based question (DBQ).

Primary Source • Excerpts from The Pillow Book of Sei Shônagon [Asia for Educators]
With exercises for students.

• Murasaki Shikibu [Women in World History]
A brief biography of the author of The Tale of Genji.

Primary Source • Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan [Digital Library, University of Pennsylvania]
Full text of a 1920 book that includes the diary of Murasaki Shikibu, author of The Tale of Genji.

• The Tale of Genji [Asia for Educators]
A short introduction to The Tale of Genji, followed by an analysis of the famous "Yûgao" chapter. With exercises for students.

Primary Source (in Japanese) • Genji monogatari [Japanese Text Initiative, University of Virginia]
In three versions that can be viewed separately or together — in the original script, in a modernized script, and in romaji.

• The Heart of History: The Tale of Genji [PDF] [Education About Asia, Association for Asian Studies]
The author suggests "several ways in which aspects of The Tale of Genji may deepen our understanding of Japan during the
Heian period as well as even contemporary Japan."

Video Unit • The Tale of Genji [Asia for Educators]
Literary salons, women as authors, and the impact of The Tale of Genji are discussed by the featured speakers: Columbia University professors Haruo Shirane and Paul Varley, and Asia Society President Emeritus Robert Oxnam. Section Topics:

• Japanese Aesthetics and the Tale of Genji [ExEAS, Columbia University]
Using an excerpt from the chapter “The Sacred Tree,” this unit offers a guide to a close examination of Japanese aesthetics in The Tale of Genji (ca.1010). This two-session lesson plan can be used in World Literature courses or any course that teaches components of Zen Buddhism or Japanese aesthetics (e.g. Introduction to Buddhism, the History of Buddhism, Philosophy, Japanese History, Asian Literature, or World Religion).

Emakimono

Lesson Plan • A Case Study of Heian Japan through Art: Japan's Four Great Emaki [Program for Teaching East Asia, Center for Asian Studies, University of Colorado]
"Emakimono or emaki, narrative picture scrolls, developed into a distinctly Japanese art form in the Heian period, 794-1185 CE. In this lesson, students examine four emaki masterpieces to analyze the highly refined court culture, politics, and religion in the late Heian period. Working in groups, they then create preview posters for a museum exhibit featuring the four emaki, providing their interpretation of the facets of Heian culture they believe exhibit-goers should learn." Introductory essay and lesson plan with images of picture scrolls from the period.


Media Failures and Backlash

Sellers was taken into custody at the hospital and charged with inciting a riot. Chief Strom claimed Sellers took advantage of America’s fear of black power and fired-up students who would never have staged resistance on their own. Governor McNair also blamed the incident on black power agitators.

The Orangeburg Massacre happened within days of the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War and, as a result, was largely ignored by the press. In addition, some press coverage was incorrect.

For instance, the Associated Press initially reported that the student protestors had been armed, fired first and exchanged gunfire with police officers. This was false, although some officers later stated later they𠆝 heard small arms fire and believed they were being shot at before shooting into the crowd in self-defense.

The black community was appalled at the slaughter and the subsequent bad press. Many took to the streets in protest and demonstrated in Columbia, South Carolina’s capital.

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. sent a telegram to President Lyndon B. Johnson stating that the deaths in Orangeburg, “lie on the conscience of Chief Strom and the government of South Carolina.” The head of the NAACP traveled to Orangeburg to challenge the media’s portrayal of the confrontation.


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Hi, I’m Mike Lindell, Inventor, and CEO of MyPillow®, Inc. Years ago, like you, I found myself extremely frustrated with my pillow going flat. I would wake up in the morning with a sore arm, my neck would hurt, my fingers would be numb, I would toss and turn all night not knowing why.


Pillow Facts and History You Didn’t Already Know

Did you know that the history of the pillow can be traced by to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia? If not, then you may want to read to rest of this.

Sure you already know that pillows can go on your couch or bed. And you already know that you can lay your head on them and rest or even sleep in comfort with the right pillow. But did you know that the history of the pillow can be traced by to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia? If not, then you may want to read to rest of this.

When man invented the wheel, it was made of stone and the carts that used this wheel provided for a very bumpy ride. The first pillows invented weren’t very comfortable either. Pharaoh’s of Egypt were buried with pillows in their tombs made out of wood, with curvature cut out that would fit their heads and neck.

The Chinese also made their own versions of pillows. These were constructed out of jade, porcelain, bronze, wood, and bamboo. One can only wonder why organic materials such as cotton or wool weren’t used for the first pillows. Even using a pet that likes to sleep 16 hours a day would be a better replacement for some of these first rock hard pillows.

But, according to Chinese mythology hard pillows were preferred because they help both with blood circulation and to keep the ancient demons away. Beautyrest, Tempur-Pedic and those comfortable pillows you steal from hotel rooms would have to overcome years of cultural bias before putting these hard pillow myths to rest.

The Greek and Romans did it right back then. With their hedonistic tendencies that some say led to the downfall of Rome, the people were into luxury and the pleasure of the self. So, instead of rocks, stones or metal, the Greeks and Romans used reeds, straw and the all-time favorite of the rich, feathered down.

These Europeans did not believe that there Pillow Pets were going to come to life at night and eat them as they slept. No, they believed in gorging themselves in tryptophan-laced foods and plenty of wine to put them out for a good night’s sleep.

And, yes a comfortable pillow was part of this experience as well. Eat, drink, sleep, repeat was the norm for many living in this culture.

Now, in the 1800’s pillows had become common place. Every Tom, Dick and Harriet homesteading in the U. S. had some form of pillow to aid them in a quality sleep at night. Back then the stuffing in the pillows had to be changed frequently because of mold, mildew and other issues.

And in the 1900’s pillows started to become mass produced and compete in the marketplace. Today there are many different kinds of pillows including those that use memory foam, hypo-allergenic materials, duck down, goose down and Hugh Downs.

So, you see, you’ve learned something about pillows today. Sleep well tonight, and by all means, don’t let those nasty bed bugs bite.

Kevin Blevin writes about the history of pillows plus funny pillowcases for a humorous shopping site that he owns, runs and manages.


Titles in () above, such as (Word Edgewise) were planned but never written, for one reason or another.

  • Word Edgewise
  • Fire Below
  • The Sound Of His Wings
  • Eclipse
  • The Stone Pillow
  • Da Capo - planned to be written in the 1950s, it actually became the concluding section of Time Enough for Love in 1973.


These unwritten stories have tantalised more than one Heinlein fan. Not least, one Laurence M. Janifer who wrote The Counterfeit Heinlein: A Gerald Knave Science Fiction Adventure which includes portions of a lost manuscript of The Stone Pillow, rediscovered when - but I'll let you read it for yourself, it's on Google Play.


Watch the video: The Pillow Book by Sei Shonangon.