Notes: Origin of the Hata clan

The following is excerpted from a review by Cynthea BOGEL published in “Japanese Religions 30 (1&2), of:

Transmitting the Forms of Divinity: Early Buddhist Art from Korea and Japan. New York: Japan Society, 2003 (0913304549). *Washizuka Hiromitsu, Park Youngbok, and Kang Woo-bang et al. Edited by Naomi Noble Richard.

“One would have liked to know more about the unofficial – but equally rich – transmission of Buddhist culture from China to Korea and from Korea to Japan, glimpses of which can be gleaned from symbols or material remains, and from genealogies or clan histories.3

The records make mention of the Aya clan from Baekje, who settled in Yamato – especially around Asuka and Kawachi – by around the year 400. By the mid-seventh century the Aya were closely aligned with the pro- Buddhist Soga. By that time, many members of the clan were prominent in diplomacy, government, military affairs, and court ritual, and they actively promoted Buddhism. Along with the Hata, who probably came from Baekje,4 the Aya had supervisory functions over organizations called be that provided various goods and services. This kind of history offers a broad foundation for understanding later events and exemplifies how the Yamato leaders could not have secured power without the Baekje clans’ knowledge and assistance, also that this process of securing power and legitimacy is intimately connected to Buddhism and the production of its material culture. …

The Aya and especially the Hata were both appointed to positions in the treasury (kura-be) by the Soga, and from these positions safeguarded clan tribute from the mid-fifth century onward. The Nihongi notes that Hada [Hata] no Ohotsuchi was appointed by Emperor Kimmei (531–571) to head the Treasury to fulfill a dream he had that named Ohotsuchi as key to the success of his reign. The name Hata (or Hada) is the kana rendering for Qin (Aya is the rendering for Han); it also means loom (and in some usages, cloth). Both the Aya and Hata are associated with the production of textiles in ancient Japan. A Hata clan member supervised artists in making embroideries for HØry ̈-ji (see below), and the Nihongi notes that there were many weavers among the immigrants. They made their wealth through sericulture and in 603 founded Hata-dera, i.e., Koryu-ji, in the Uzumasa district of Kyoto.

A Hata-clan member of the treasury be, Kurabe no Hata no Kuma is named in Ariga Yoshitaka’s essay, “Korean Elements in Japanese Pictorial Representation in the Early Asuka Period,” as the man who directed both Chinese and Korean (Goguryeo) artisans in making the cartoon for the Tenjukoku Sh ̈chØ (Land of Heavenly Life) embroidery at Ch ̈g ̈ji, which dates to 622. Ariga’s essay considers phoenix motifs on the Tamamushi Shrine at HØry ̈-ji and an embroidered banner at Ch ̈g ̈-ji,5 among other examples, relating them to the Goguryeo artists of the Three Kingdoms period (57BCE–668CE). He also considers the phoenix in Korean and Japanese tomb paintings, tiles, and carvings, and the difficulties of dating tombs….

The Koryu-ji icon (although not exhibited) is the subject of a thoughtful essay by onishi (“The Monastery KØry ̈ji’s ‘Crowned Maitreya’ and the Stone Pensive Bodhisattva Excavated at Longxingsi”) that compares several of its specific iconographic features to those of a stone pensive Bodhisattva excavated at Longxingsi in Shandong Province. onishi speculates that the Hata originated in Shilla and concludes that, “Despite paucity of further documentary evidence, continuing research on the Silla hanka images in Korea has created a scholarly consensus that the image transmitted [from Shilla to KØry ̈ji] in Suiko 31 [616] would have been KØry ̈ji’s Crowned Maitreya” (55), i.e., a Shilla gift to a Shilla-clan temple, the Hata. onishi’s essay also examines the full potential impact of the Shandong stone Maitreya bodhisattva on our understanding of the hanka Maitreya image type. Discovered in 1996, it provides evidence of the source for the Korean representation of a flat cordon (Chinese: shou) suspended from the waist, employing a jade ring ornament and cordon tucked under the figure’s bottom; a variant form of the hanging cordon is found on Baekje-style figures such as a statue from Kansho\in (cat. no. 20, noted above). The Shandong find, along with a number of works recently excavated at Qingzhou, complicates and enriches the map of transmission of Buddhist divinities to and quite possibly from Korea…

Footnotes no. 3 and 4:

  1. See, for example Gina L. Barnes, “The Role of the Be in the Formation of the Yamato State,” In Elizabeth M. Brumfiel and Timothy K. Earle, eds., Specialization, Exchange, and Complex Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987); Chen Yu-Hsiu, “A Study of Early Sino-Japanese Relations via Korea: The Sinicization of Japan,” Area Studies 12:1 (August 1991): 81-88; William Wayne Farris, Sacred Texts and Buried Treasures: Issues in the Historical Archaeology of Ancient Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998; Hong, Wontack, Paekche of Korea and the Origin of Yamato Japan (Seoul: Kudara International, 1994); Kamata, Shigeo, “The Transmission of Paekche Buddhism to Japan,” in Lewis R. Lancaster and C.S. Yu, eds., Introduction of Buddhism to Korea: New Cultural Patterns, Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1989; Roy Andrew Miller, “Yamato and Paekche,” Asian Pacific Quarterly 26:3 (Autumn 1994): 1-13; Yu Hak-ku, “Early Historical Relations between Korea and Japan: Some Methodological Issues,” Korea Journal 30:6 (June 1990): 45-48. Information on Korean immigrants and be is drawn primarily from these sources.
  2. The Hata may have originated in Shilla, although the Nihon shoki, the Nihongi, and other sources mention Baekje. See Lee Chung-myun, “A Study of the Aya and Hata Clans in Ancient Japan with Reference to Korean Migration,” Chirihak yongu 12 (1987): 413-434.”

Retrieved from:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s