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Samurai and Their Art

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Kaylee LaBella

on 2 April 2014

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Transcript of Samurai and Their Art

The Samurai and Their Arts
Who were the Samurai?
Rise to Power:
The Age of the Samurai
The samurai's long, complex history first
began around the 10th century
Samurai military government developed from a protection system created by wealthy aristocrats and Buddhist monks
, who hired armed men with a designated leader to guard their land.
During the time the samurai's military government began to form,
Japan was riddled with civil war.
In 1185, one clan named the Kamakura Shogunate, conquered all its rivals and established Japan's first military government, which lasted until 1868 with the Meji restoration.

For much of the 12th - 19th century, nearly 700 years, samurai controlled economics, social policies, and politics in Japan.

Artists and Commissioners
Samurai commissioned and completed a variety of art works, including:
Monochrome Ink Paintings
Historic samurai battle and legend paintings
Tea Ceremonies
Noh Theater or Kabuki (dance drama)
Armor: Beyond Function
A samurai's arms and armor were their most prized possessions.
Not every samurai had the same armor.

Step 1:
Partner up with the person behind you, and discuss why armor was significant to a samurai warrior and what it might have signified. Record your responses in the "What I KNOW" section of your KWL chart.
Step 2:
Then, individually, take a moment to write down some things you would like to learn more about, in the "What I WANT to know" section of your KWL chart.
Armor: Beyond Function
Where's the Art?
Samurai believed they had to master more than their military power in order to maintain their elite status.

This meant they had to be financially, politically, and, most importantly, culturally astute.

Not all samurai armor was equal or identical. A samurai's armor signified:

Military Rank
Samurai of lower rank wore simple armor, while the higher ranking samurai, like the Daimyo, wore elaborately decorated and embellished armor.
Financial Status
Personal Identity
From Necessity Comes Art
As the samurai became more powerful their armor matched their noble status.
The elaborate decorations and embellishments on many samurai's armor raised their protective gear to fine art status.

Head of the Imperial Court

-The emperor's purpose during the Age of the Samurai was largely ceremonial.

The shogun was the most powerful political leader.

-Shogun roughly translates to "Great Barbarian Subduing General"

- While the emperor was a cultural figure, the shogun and his men controlled political, military, and economic matters in Japan.
The Daimyo was a high ranking samurai.

-Daimyo, roughly translates to "Great Land Holder"

-The Daimyo governed regional domains from castles and pledged an alliance with a Shogun.
The vassals, or lower ranking samurai, were elite warriors that served under a Shogun and answered to the Daimyo, the highest ranking samurai.
Hierarchy of Power
"Arts of peace on the left hand,
and arts of war on the right".
Bun and Bu
, or
"The Way of the Warrior"
, was the ethical code the samurai based their lives upon.

- Culture or Arts
- Martial or Arms

Bushido was both a way of life and a philosophy which hinged on the principles:
Honor and Duty
Self Discipline
As we take a closer look at some of the samurai art pieces, keep Bushido in your mind. Try and find the connection between the philosophy and the works of art.
Richard Béliveau and his collection of Samurai Arts
Step 3:
As you watch the video, listen for any facts about samurai armor that you and your partner did not know.
Record what you learn from this video in the "What I have LEARNED" section of your KWL chart.
From Necessity Comes Art
Step 4:
Discuss, in groups of four, what you think the armor in this slide is made out of.
What materials are used?
How might it have been constructed?
Record your responses in the "What do I KNOW" section of your KWL chart.
Step 5:
Then take a moment, individually, to fill in some responses in the "What do I WANT to know" section of your KWL chart.
Step 5:
As you watch the video record any new information that you learned in the "What I LEARNED" section of your KWL chart.
Samurai armor is an art form because:
Mastery of Craftsmanship
lacquer, gild, lace, ironwork, metalworking, etc.
Expression of Identity
Exemplifies multiple principles and elements of art.
Armor as an Art Form
Japan's Elite
Samurai, or Bushi, were elite Japanese warriors.

Samurai translates to "one who serves".

The Samurai were excellent swordsmen, archers, and horse back riders.

Like the Code of Chivalry, found in the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the samurai followed their own code of behavior called, Bushido.
Step 6: Conclusion
Choose one of the three samurai armor I am about to display as your reference.
Write a brief paragraph (5-6 developed sentences) describing how the piece reflects the samurai ideals of Bu and Bun (military and art).
Use specific visual examples from the piece and information have learned today to complete your answer.
The Samurai and Their Art
On your KWL chart:
List everything you know about this object under the "What I KNOW" section.
If you don't know, just guess!
Describe: origin of the object, what country it came from, its purpose, how it was constructed, what materials it is made out of, etc.
Guess what topic you think we might be discussing today.
List everything you want to know about the object, or the topic, under the "What I WANT to know" section.
Samurai Helmet with Half Mask Face

Origin: Japan

Date: 1615-1650

Material: Iron, Leather, Laminated Paper, Lacquer, Textile
Today's Objectives:

1. Recognize principles of Samurai culture.
2. Interpret how Samurai visually represented the principles of their culture in their armor.

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