The unified kingdoms that emerged from the centuries of division – Tang, Silla, and Japan – shared not only modes of government, but a great deal of religious, literate, visual, and musical culture. But just as government varied, so too did culture. The Tang period (618-906) has been called “cosmopolitan” and “a golden age.” It drew visitors from across Asia, and from the Middle East, and incorporated not only Buddhism but influences from greater Persia into its art, architecture, and literature. The greatest poets of the Chinese language were Tang scholars and officials, and great short stories were written as mere exercises to show off a man’s talent to the official overseeing his civil service exam. Tang models were appealing enough to merit adoption by Silla (668-935) and, as the next chapter will discuss, by the Yamato court in the Nara (710-794) and Hei’an (794-1180) periods.
Thumbnail: Earthenware, with traces of pigment. Tomb figurines. Seated musicians, late seventh century. How does each instrument work? Source: Metropolitan Museum. Public Domain.