Online ISSN : 2424-2616
Print ISSN : 0018-2478
ISSN-L : 0018-2478
Late Medieval, Sengoku Period Peasant Family Organization and Village Structure
Satoshi Sakata
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1993 Volume 102 Issue 8 Pages 1477-1506,1604-


Within the recent rise in interest concerning village life in Japan's medieval and early modern periods, I attempt to make a contribution from the standpoint of the concept of ie 家 (the family) by investigating the Nishi 西 family of Kurodamiya 黒田宮 village of Yamaguni 山国 estate in the province of Tanba 丹波. By reconstructing the actual situation of peasant dozoku 同族 kin-ship organization during the late medieval and early modern periods, I clarifiy when these organizations were formed, how they were transformed over time, and how these changes affected miyamura 宮村 village structure. First, I show that the Nishi family was established around the late fifteenth-early sixteenth century as a perpetual organization passing both the family name and wealth to each succeeding generation directly through a patrilineal line of descent. I then use a number of family documents written during the Genroku 元禄 era (1688-1704) to construct a family genealogy and analyze its dozoku organization. I find that the Nishi family dozoku organization went through a three stage transformation marked by 1)the formation of the Konishi Tarojiro branch family during the latter half of the sixteenth century, 2)the formation of the Kaminishi and Shimonishi branch families around the turn from the sixteenth to the seventeenth century, and 3)the formation of the Shichizaemon and Kazaemon branch families during the latter half of the seventeenth century. Structurally speaking, these events marked a process of change from a group of families each with the equal commoner status of otona-byakusho 乙名百姓 to a dozoku organization of families ranked according to pedigree from the main, or original branch, (honke 本家) on down. Moreover, as this transformation took place, the village miya-za 宮座 organization also began to change accordingly from an exclusive group of the village's otona-byakusho status holders during the Sengoku period to an organization that included dozoku branch family members with the lesser Status of kobyakusho 小百姓. Finally, I raise the problem of the origin of the dozoku organization. Given my findings concerning Yamaguni estate that this social group came into existence during the latter half of the fifteen century at the earliest, I criticize the ahistorical social anthropological assumption that the organization existed from the most primitive times. To the contrary, I present the villages around Kyoto as one model of the typical Japanese village that was established during the Sengoku period as a highly organized social complex based on the four principles of the village za 座, dozoku family groupings, the toya 当屋 institution of alternating shrine priests, and a seniority-based age group ranking system. Therefore, those villages discovered by scholars in other fields that seem to be based exclusively on just one of those principles should be considered as exceptions to this typical case.

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© 1993 The Historical Society of Japan
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