Claustrophobia? It’s relative.

This is the oldest post on this blog, made when it was still called “The Red Faery” and was primarily historical in focus. I’m trying to go back to writing more informative posts, rather than personal ones. Any suggestions?

Flight of the Hamsa

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An illustration from a late Heian picture-scroll, showing a “respectable” lady behind curtains of state. She is surrounded by her less-respectable gentlewomen.

“Respectable” ladies in Heian Japan lived their lives hidden away behind barricades of screen and curtain and bundled into layers upon layers of robes. Theirs was a sedentary life, spent away from the prying eyes of men. Indeed, the ladies of Heian Japan led confined existences that any modern observer (female or not) would no doubt find oppressively claustrophobic.

Heian ladies certainly were supposed to live sedentary lives indoors, safe from the unwanted gaze of men. That was the ideal, anyway. Unfortunately for the women of Classical Japan – and for men and women everywhere throughout time – ideals have a way of remaining little more than abstractions, their existence serving as a frustration to those who can’t make things quite measure up. So it shouldn’t really be…

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