Performative Loci of the Imperial Edicts in Nara Japan, 749-70


The Japanese Empress Kōken/Shōtoku (r. 749-70) governed not merely from a static setting, a throne in the palace at Nara, but by delivering her edicts in a wide variety of performative loci: in Buddhist temples, mansions of the nobility, and temporary palaces during royal progresses around the realm. This paper analyzes the texts, settings, and audiences of edicts, arguing that eighth-century Japan is an important venue for the study of transitions from orality to literacy.

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