Heian Palace - Primary Sources

Primary Sources

While the palace itself has been completely destroyed, a significant amount of information regarding it has been obtained from contemporary and almost contemporary sources. The Heian Palace figures as a background for action in many Heian period literary texts, both fiction and non-fiction. These provide important information on the palace itself, court ceremonies and functions held there as well as everyday routines of the courtiers living or working there. Notable examples include the Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, the so-called Pillow Book by Sei Sh┼Źnagon and the chronicle Eiga Monogatari. In addition, paintings in certain emakimono picture scrolls depict (sometimes fictional) scenes that took place at the palace; the Genji Monogatari Emaki, dating from about 1130 is perhaps the best-known example. Finally, there are also partially damaged contemporary maps of the palace from the 10th and 12th centuries showing the layout and function of the buildings within Dairi.

In addition to literary evidence, archaeological excavation conducted mainly since the late 1970s have revealed further information about the palace. In particular, the existence and location of buildings such as the Buraku-in compound has been verified against the contemporary documentary sources.

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