Thursday, 28 October 2010

Way Of The Samurai

So, I've somewhat havent had to the time post as much as I would have liked, mostly becuase I've been in between pieces of work that havent quite been completed to the standard I would have liked.

That aside, I've fallen behind in th character design work slightly, because I really wanted to take the time to research the Samurai properly, and not half-heartedly on popular culture, hence my characters still being up in the air...

Moving on, here's the background information I gathered on Samurai's, and there way of life:



Samurai

Is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan.
According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, this was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau. In both countries the terms were nominalized to mean "those who serve in close attendance to the nobility," the pronunciation in Japanese changing to saburai."
By the end of the 12th century, samurai became almost entirely synonymous with bushi, and the word was closely associated with the middle and upper echelons of the warrior class.
The samurai followed a set of rules that came to be known as Bushidō. While they numbered less than 10% of Japan's population samurai teachings can still be found today in both everyday life and in martial arts such as Kendō, meaning the way of the sword.

Bushido

The term 'Bushido' literally meaning "Way of the Warrior", is a name in common usage since the late 19th Century which is used to describe a uniquely Japanese Code Of Conduct adhered to by Samurai since time immemorial.

The Seven Virtues of Bushido:
Rectitude
Courage
Benevolence
Respect
Honesty
Honour
Loyalty

Associated Virtues:
Filial Piety
Wisdom
Elderly Care

Culture

As de facto aristocrats for centuries, samurai developed their own cultures that influenced Japanese culture as a whole. The culture associated with the samurai such as the Tea Ceremony, monochrome ink painting, rock gardens and poetry were adopted by warrior patrons throughout the centuries 1200–1600.

Education

In general, samurai, aristocrats, and priests had a very high literacy rate in Kanji. Recent studies have shown that literacy in Kanji among other groups in society was somewhat higher than previously understood.
For example, court documents, birth and death records and marriage records from the Kamakura period, submitted by farmers, were prepared in Kanji. Literacy was generally high among the warriors and the common classes as well.

Names

A Samurai was usually named by combining one Kanji from his father or grandfather and one new Kanji. Samurai normally used only a small part of their total name.

Marriage (Shudo)

The tradition of love bonds between a seasoned and a novice samurai was held to be "the flower of the samurai spirit" and formed the real basis of the samurai aesthetic for some of the high ranking Samurai class. Even amongst the high ranking samurai, it was in the minority.
This practice is commonly believed to have originated from the beliefs in Bushido.
It was one of the main ways in which the ethos and the skills of the samurai tradition were passed down from one generation to another.

Bidō (The Beautiful Way), was also another term used for the bonds between Samurai. The devotion that two samurai would have for each other would be almost as great as that which they had for their daimyo.
Indeed, according to contemporary accounts, the choice between his lover and his master could become a philosophical problem for samurai.
It should be noted that bidō also was a term for a close friendship that was often not sexual, but Sempai and Kohai.

Weapons

Bushido teaches that the Katana is the samurai's soul and sometimes a samurai is pictured as entirely dependent on the weapon for fighting.
They believe that the katana was so precious that they often gave them names and considered them as part of the living. After a male Bushi child was born, he would receive his first sword in a ceremony called Mamori-gatana. The sword, however, was merely a charm sword covered with brocade to which was attached a purse or wallet, worn by children under five.
Upon reaching the age of thirteen, in a ceremony called Genpuku, the child was given his first real weapons and armour, an adult name, and became a samurai.

A list of the weapons Samurai were known for using:

Katana/Wakizashi (Daisho)
Kanabo (Club)
Tanto (Small Kinfe)
Yumi (Long Bow)
Yari (Spear)
Teppo (Arquebus-Gun)

Armour

Here's a breakdown of the pieces worn on a full suit of Samurai Armour:

Kikou - Full Armour
Kabotu - Helmet
Mempo - Face Mask
Do - Torso/Cuirass
Sode - Shoulder Guards
Kote - Armoured Sleeves
Kusazuri - Skirt/Apron
Suneate - Shin Guards
Haidate - Thigh Guards

Etymology

Samurai - Those who serve in close attendance to nobility
Bushi - The name given to the ancient Japanese soldiers from traditional warrior families

Buke - A martial house or a member of such a house
Mononofu  - An ancient term meaning a warrior.
Musha - A shortened form of bugeisha, lit. martial art man.
Shi - A word roughly meaning "gentleman
Daimyo - The term referring to the powerful territorial lord
Seppku - Ritual suicide by disembowlment
Uruwashii - A cultured warrior symbolized by the kanji for "bun" (literary study) and "bu" (military study or arts)
Tsuwamono - An old term for a soldier popularized by Matsuo Bashō in his famous haiku. Literally meaning a strong person.
Ronin - A Samurai with no lord or master. A Samurai became masterless from the death or fall of his   master, or after the loss of his master's favor or privilege

Myth/Reality

Most samurai were bound by a code of honor and were expected to set an example for those below them. A notable part of their code is seppuku, which allowed a disgraced samurai to regain his honor by passing into death, where samurai were still beholden to social rules.
Whilst there are many romanticised characterisations of samurai behaviour such as the writing of Bushido in 1905, studies of Kobudo and traditional Budō indicate that the samurai were as practical on the battlefield as were any other warrior.
Despite the rampant romanticism of the 20th century, samurai could be disloyal and treacherous, cowardly, brave, or overly loyal.
Samurai were usually loyal to their immediate superiors, who in turn allied themselves with higher lords. These loyalties to the higher lords often shifted. There were, however, also notable instances where samurai would be disloyal to their lord or daimyo, when loyalty to the emperor was seen to have supremacy.

Quotes about the Samurai

I gathered a few of these to give more depth to the Samurai

Stating that a warrior looked forward to a glorious death, It is a matter of regret to let the moment when one should die pass by. One's main purpose in throwing away his life is to do so either for the sake of the Emperor or in some great undertaking of a military general.

When one is serving officially or in the master's court, he should not think of a hundred or a thousand people, but should consider only the importance of the master.

Those who are reluctant to give up their lives and embrace death are not true warriors. Go to the battlefield firmly confident of victory, and you will come home with no wounds whatever.
Engage in combat fully determined to die and you will be alive; wish to survive in the battle and you will surely meet death.
When you leave the house determined not to see it again you will come home safely; when you have any thought of returning you will not return.
You may not be in the wrong to think that the world is always subject to change, but the warrior must not entertain this way of thinking, for his fate is always determined

The way of the Samurai is in desperateness. Ten men or more cannot kill such a man

In matters both great and small, one should not turn his back on his master's commands...One should not ask for gifts or enfiefments from the master...No matter how unreasonably the master may treat a man, he should not feel disgruntled...An underling does not pass judgments on a superior

If a man does not investigate into the matter of Bushido daily, it will be difficult for him to die a brave and manly death. Thus it is essential to engrave this business of the warrior into one's mind well

It is not the Bushido to be shamed and avoid death even under circumstances that are not particularly important. It goes without saying that to sacrifice one's life for the sake of his master is an unchanging principle. That I should be able to go ahead of all the other warriors of this country and lay down my life for the sake of my master's benevolence is an honor to my family and has been my most fervent desire for many years

So....after gathering all this Information, I finally feel like I can grasp the nature of my characters to my fullest understanding.

Now onwards to researching the appriopate gear for each type of warrior... :)


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