Monday, March 21, 2016

Rare portraits of Japanese Samurais from 1800s

The military nobility of medieval and early-modern Japan, known as the samurai is one of the most mystified and mythologized figures from the past, and played an important part in Japanese history and culture.

In Japanese, they are usually referred to as bushi.  According to translator William Scott Wilson: “In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning “to wait upon” or “accompany persons” in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau. In both countries the terms came to mean “those who serve in close attendance to the nobility”, the pronunciation in Japanese changing to saburai. According to Wilson, an early reference to the word “samurai” appears in the Kokin Wakashū (905–914), the first imperial anthology of poems, completed in the first part of the 10th century.

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 were usually associated with a clan and their lord, and were trained in military tactics and grand strategy, and they followed a set of rules that later came to be known as the bushidō. While the samurai numbered less than 10% of the Japan’s population,their influence can still be found today in everyday life, business and in modern Japanese martial arts.

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