Saturday, January 31, 2009

The way of the Japanese Samurai-Bushido

Samurai is a japanese word used for describing the ancient military aristocracy. It is derived from saburau, the japanese translation for the verb to serve. Through out the centuries this medieval warrior became the ultimate everlasting symbol of the japanese quest for perfection.

The Samurai were masters of rural domains and direct shogun's vassals. They had under their command warriors with strange habits, at least for a Westerner;
before each fight they used to perfume themselves, worn heavy make-up and blackened their teeth. All these strange customs were deserted in 1870.
The standards, known as the Samurai warrior code or, simply, Bushido weren't always followed; they foccused on the ideea of honour, of keeping up a promise, of protecting at any costs the suveran and contempt in front of death. This code of honour and absolute loyalty towards their shogun puts the samurai-s on the same level with the medieval european knights, with the only difference that in Bushido there isn't any reference towards religious conduct. During battles, the samurai was horse riding, carring heavy and somptuose harness. His armour was made out of iron plates; the iron helmet was heavy decorated, they wore footwear out of bear coat, a huge arch, a quiver, a dagger and two swords. The samurai kit wasn't complete without his flag and a fan used to make his gestures and military orders seem even more martial than they were. As a must, a samurai had to know to play at least one musical instrument.

Miyamoto Musashi, a samurai from the 17th century alleged that an oath signifies loyalty at any costs. The Bushido code enforced respect, honour and total contempt towards death. To avoid the shame of being taken prisoner and, much later, to prove his loyalty infront of the shogun or to protest against an unfair conduct of a superior, in the 13th century first appeared the Harakiri( which literary means "to cut through the stomach") or Seppuku, derived from a chinese word. When the samurais lost a battle, the mass suicides were extremely common, clan leaders compelling hundreds of men towards this desperate gesture. It is important to keep in mind that samurais weren't affraid of dying as they perceived death as a normal and beneficial process of reuniting the deceased's spirit with Mother Nature. The samurai caste came to its decay at the end of the 19th century, once Japan embraced the road to modernisation. Once the feudal system is abolished the samurais have lost their very reason of being. A large number of them improve their economic status by becoming merchants in Nagasaki, Osaka and Edo. Others followed an intelectual reconversion, some of which became well known in literature and arts.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, love your post, very nice work.
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