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Winter court

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The term Winter Court was generally applied to any extended court that a member of Rokugan's nobility held for the duration of winter. It was considered a time of great political opportunity, as well as a place where those of all walks of life can demonstrate their skill and ability. [1]

Starting Month Edit

During the first week of the Month of the Rooster, the Emperor officially announced the location of his Winter Court for the year. [2] It was normally convened to begin at the Month of the Dog, but there were several that began one month later, in the Month of the Boar. [3]

Background Edit

Winter in Rokugan was an extremely harsh time of year, with freezing temperatures, strong winds, and large amounts of snowfall. It was customary for many people to gather together for the winter under one roof, and share the resources needed to survive the season. [4]

For the aristocracy of the Empire, this situation had traditionally been an excuse for a noble to invite guests from all over Rokugan to spend the winter with them at their own personal estates. [4] These guests often brought small retinues with them to help them in the event of some difficulty or emergency.

But these dignitaries were not the only ones to be invited to attend a winter court. Artisans and performers of many kinds were brought to winter court to provide a noble's guests with leisure activities to pass the time. [5] Naturally, the greatest of these entertainers (such as the Kakita Artisans, or the Shiba Illusionists) were in great demand, and often must be lured with many expensive gifts and favors. [citation needed]

Invitations Edit

The invitations were 'officially' given by out by who ever was selected to be the host that year, but each was written by the Imperial Scribes at the express command of the Emperor. These recipients represented the only individuals permitted to stay the winter in the Emperor's presence. Other guests only had access to his courtly functions and offical appearances. The Clan Champion and family Daimyos of each Great Clan and their guests, the Head of the Brotherhood of ShinseiImperial Court members of rank and station, and the Emerald Champion and his guests, were whom typically recieved an invitation. Minor Clans received very few invitations and Ronin were rarely found in. The Imperial Advisor was responsible for the conduct of all those invited. [6]

The Imperial Winter Court Edit

Traditionally, the Imperial Court under the Hantei dynasty would select a different location each winter to hold their own winter court. This was considered an enormous honor, not to mention an amazing opportunity: the host would personally have the ear of the Emperor for the entire winter. [1] It will be hosted in a Kyuden, a castle prepared to accommodate at least two hundred and fifty guests, based on thirty representatives per Great Clan, along with the Emperor's own entourage and any other surprise guests. After the addition of the Mantis and the Spider Clan this was raised to three hundred and ten. Older structures, such as Kyuden Doji, were exempted from the new requirement. [7] The Crane had hosted almost half of all Winter Courts in recorded history, followed by the Scorpion Clan, the Otomo family and the Phoenix Clan. Combined with the Crane, these four factions had hosted nine out of ten Imperial Winter Courts in history. [8]

The Toturi dynasty maintained few winter court activity during it's time, and few records remained of them. [9]

The Iweko dynasty resumed the old tradition, with the Empress taking part in her first Winter Courts in Kyuden Bayushi in 1170 [3] and Kyuden Gotei in 1171. [10]

For further information on this section, please see Winter court timeline

Politics Edit

Courtiers tended to come into their own during winter court. With months to spend building up relations with the other dignitaries, a courtier could easily forge enormous political power for their clan, and themselves. They not only had time to address clan interests (which was ideally what they were there to handle), but could frequently work in some personal advantage or gain. [citation needed]

Competitions Edit

Winter court often saw a great deal of challenges. [5] There were games of go, shogi, kemari, sumai, and sadane, which were common in courts throughout Rokugan. Bushi often engaged in all manner of contests of skill, such as target-shooting, displays of swordsmanship, wrestling, and various athletic contests (like races). Even shugenja enjoyed the odd display of magic to determine which one was more skilled in their arts than others. [citation needed]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 11
  2. Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 48
  3. 3.0 3.1 Shadows in the Forest, by Shawn Carman
  4. 4.0 4.1 Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 38
  5. 5.0 5.1 Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 58
  6. Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, pp. 48-49
  7. Book of Earth, p. 37
  8. Sword and Fan, p. 160
  9. The Heavens' Command, by Brian Yoon
  10. To All Things an End, by Shawn Carman



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