The samurai, just like the ninjas, have always fascinated people throughout history. The legendary warriors have been the subject of numerous films and the Western world often see them as a clan that followed a strict moral code. However, there is so much that we don’t know about the samurai.
One particular misconception about the military caste involves their numbers. Although the samurai is often believed to be a rarity, there were so much more of them in history. The samurai was actually a social class and made up to ten percent of Japanese population during their popularity. In fact, every single Japanese person living today might have at least some samurai blood in them. Here are seven interesting facts about the samurai you probably didn’t know.
1. The Samurai Armor
There is little doubt that Westerners were initially frightened of the samurai because of their unique armor. The armor itself was more than just a way to intimidate enemies. It was designed to allow movement despite its bulky appearance.
The intimidating design of the samurai armor was eventually adopted to make two Star Wars villains look more menacing. Darth Vader’s helmet is actually inspired from the samurai’s kabuto helmet complete with a neck guard. Darth Maul’s costume was fashioned after the armor because the Sith Lord needed something that allowed mobility.
2. The Female Samurai
Believe it or not, men were not the only ones who were given the honor to become a samurai. Onna-bugeisha were female warriors from Japanese nobility who fought as fiercely as any samurai.
It is important to point out that although the onna-bugeisha were considered powerful warriors, they were not formal samurai. They were not given two swords and would use the naginata, a polearm with a curved blade.
3. Samurai Fashion
Luckily, the samurai didn’t have to wear their armor at all times. Nevertheless, their daily fashion still ensured that they are always ready for a fight. Samurai often used wide hakama trousers and a kimono which didn’t restrict movement. They also preferred the hitatare, a long-sleeved jacket that likewise allowed mobility.
The samurai also had their own strange hairstyle. They would often wear their hair in a topknot and shave their forehead. This particularly look reportedly made it easier to put on the kabuto helmet.
4. Non-Japanese Samurai
Tom Cruise’s The Last Samurai may have been right. Although it is rare for an outsider to become a samurai, it is still possible if a shogun (warlord) or daimyu (territorial lord) chooses to accept the foreigner. They can then be given the samurai’s two swords and a new Japanese name.
One interesting Western samurai managed to become an important figure in Japan. English navigator William Adams became a samurai and key adviser to the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu during the 1600s. His story inspired several books and films including The Last Samurai.
5. Samurai Education
Although Adams didn’t have any problems becoming a samurai, the same cannot be said about other people. In addition to learning how to fight and defend their daimyu, they also had to participate in several cultural and artistic endeavors.
Samurai lessons included literature, poetry, calligraphy, rock gardens, flower arranging, and monochrome ink paintings. They also needed to perfect the tea ceremony.
6. The Samurai Weapons
We’ve already mentioned that the samurai is given two swords. The katana is the longer blade that is said to carry his soul while the daisho is seen as a status symbol. However, the samurai also used several other weapons.
Samurai also used a longbow called the yumi as well as spears during a battle. The samurai during the Edo-era decided to abandon their longbow in favor of the tanegashima, a flintlock rifle.
7. The Samurai’s True Ancestors
The samurai were decidedly much smaller compared to the European knights that they often clashed with. However, there is a possibility that the clan may have descended from an indigenous people that somehow originated from Russia.
Some of the samurai have been described as having light skin with a distinctly European nose. In addition to that, they were also said to be much hairier than most Japanese. This led to speculations that the samurai are actually the descendants of the Ainu people, who were often shunned by the Japanese.
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#8 is truly shocking!
The ancient Maya are undoubtedly one of the most mysterious society in history. We only have a glimpse at their culture through ruins and art but that is changing as scientists continue to uncover new discoveries.
The ancient Maya certainly had unusual habits. Archaeologists have found that they chose to move their city borders outward when the population increased. This meant each resident still had a wide personal space and didn't have to live in a dense city. It is still unclear why they chose this practice. In the meantime, here are eight discoveries about the mysterious Mayas that have recently been discovered.
1. The Old Face Of Pakal The Great
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#2 is just downright dangerous!
Some people would do anything to achieve true beauty. Our ancestors made use of what they could find in nature in an effort to enhance their looks. Unfortunately, a few of these products were usually toxic while others were simply disgusting.
Cosmetics may have been a thing since the dawn of humanity. It has recently been discovered that Neanderthals wore certain shiny pigments all over their body. That's right, cavemen wore body glitter. Here are six gross beauty products that humans used in the past.
1. Beetroot Lip And Cheek Tint
7 Surprising Discoveries Revealed By Ancient Art
#4 is a fabulous surprise!
Humanity has been creating art since the dawn of mankind. These ancient artworks usually reflect our ancestor's culture and beliefs. Interestingly, scientists have found surprising details about our history through art.
Although most artworks have revealed interesting information, some have left scientists scratching their heads. For instance, nobody knows how artists managed to carve petroglyphs into the steep cliff face of the Oglakhty mountains 5,000 years ago. After all, these rock faces are barely accessible to the most experienced climbers these days. Needless to say, our ancestors may have risked their own life for their artworks. Here are seven other surprising discoveries that were revealed by ancient art.
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