Tomokazu Nakamura: The Terms uji氏, kabane姓, and shizoku氏族—Changing Meanings Through Time

The structure known as uji氏in ancient Japan was an element of a political system, not part of written law. And Chinese characters were adopted around the same time as the adoption of the uji system. At the time, there was already difference between the meaning of uji in Japanese and 氏in China, as expressed by the Chinese character. Moreover, the meaning of Chinese characters changed over time, and accordingly Chinese characters in Japan sometimes expressed various meanings. Still later, when Western history was introduced to Japan in the Meiji Era, the concepts of clan and gens were adopted and associated with the character uji, while the term shizoku was used for a group of kin-related people. The purpose of this presentation is to clarify the differences in the meanings of uji, kabana, uji-kabane, and shizoku over time, as discussed in several of my papers published in Japanese. I argue that it is more appropriate to use terms such as family, kin, and affines to mean a group of kin-related people in ancient Japan, as in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki, before the emergence of royal authority.



日本古代の「氏(ウヂ・ウジ)」は政事(マツリゴト)の制度として、成文法ではなく成立した。古代における「氏」成立当時には、近い時期に導入された漢字の字義ともズレを生じていた。だが、中国の古代においても漢字の指し示す内容も変化していたが、そのため日本古代の史料上でも複数の意味を表す場合がある。明治時代に欧米の歴史学を導入し、欧米の歴史学でいうクラン(clan)やゲンス(gens)などの訳語として、主に「氏」が当てられ、血縁親族を「氏族」とした。そのため氏族制や氏族共同体などの概念を採り入れた研究が長らく続いた。現在ではこの議論は「記紀」に見られる「氏」「氏族」とは異なる対象を指しており、王権の成立以前の親族集団を指すには家族(family)や親族(kins and affines)といった概念の方が近いということを認識しておかなければならない。私はこの点を各所で述べているが、この報告でも、まず「氏」「姓」「氏姓」「氏族」の用語の違いがあることを理解していただく事を第一の目的としたい。