Title page History Alive!

Download 2.78 Mb.
Size2.78 Mb.
1   ...   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   ...   43
martial arts. This type of fighting often involves using an opponent’s strength against him.

Battle According to ancient texts, the samurai had a unique style of battle. First, messengers from opposing sides met to decide the time and place of combat. Then the two armies faced each other a few hundred yards apart. Samurai on both sides shouted out their names, ancestors, heroic deeds, and reason for fighting. Only then did the armies charge, with mounted samurai firing arrows as they urged their horses forward.

As the two armies clashed, samurai fought savagely in hand-to-hand combat. Enemies fought a series of one-on-one duels. Each samurai found an opponent who matched him in rank. He would try to knock his opponent off his horse, wrestle him to the ground, and slit his throat.

Samurai classes in the art of swordmanship, or fencing, taught samurais essential skills for battle.

martial arts styles of fighting or self-defense, such as modern-day judo and karate, that mostly began in Asia
Page 245

After the battle, the winning side cut off the heads of opponents they had killed. The heads were cleaned and mounted on boards. The samurai presented the heads for inspection to the warlord in charge to prove they had really killed their foes. After this ceremony, the victorious lord rewarded his samurai with swords, horses, armor, or land.
22.5 Mental Training

A samurai’s education in the art of war included mental training. Samurai had to learn self-control so they could overcome emotions that might interfere with fighting, especially the fear of death. They also learned to be always alert and prepared to fight.

Training in Self-Control To learn how to endure pain and suffering, young samurai went for days without eating, marched barefoot in snow on long journeys, and held stiff postures for hours without complaining. To overcome the fear of death, they were told to think of themselves as already dead. Here is what some samurai were told:
Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one’s body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku [suicide] at the death of one’s master.
Training in Preparedness Samurai could never relax. An attack could come when it was least expected, even when a samurai was playing music or dancing. For this reason, samurai had to develop a “sixth sense” about danger. This came from long and grueling training.

The experience of one young samurai illustrates this kind of training. The young man’s fencing master used to whack him with a wooden sword throughout the day whenever he least expected it. These painful blows eventually taught the young man to always stay alert.

Teachers also told stories about being prepared. One story was about a samurai who was peacefully writing when a swordsman tried to attack him. Using his sixth sense, the samurai felt the attack coming. He flicked ink into his attacker’s eyes and escaped. In another story, a samurai woman who was suddenly attacked thrust a piece of rolled-up paper into her attacker’s eyes and gave a war shout. Her attacker ran away.

Samurai learned to control their emotions and to always be prepared.
Page 246

22.6 Training in Writing and Literature

By the more peaceful 17th century, samurai were expected to be students of culture as well as fierce warriors. Two important aspects of culture were writing and literature.

Samurai practiced calligraphy, the art of beautiful writing. A calligrapher’s main tools were a brush, a block of ink, and paper or silk. The calligrapher wet the ink block and rubbed it on an ink stone until the ink was the right consistency. Then he carefully drew each character with his brush.

Samurai also wrote poetry. One famous samurai poet was Matsuo Basho. He invented a new form of short poetry that was later called haiku. A haiku has three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, making 17 syllables in all. A haiku poet uses images to suggest an idea or create a mood. Basho added to the beauty of haiku by choosing simple words. Here is his most famous haiku:
Furu ike ya An ancient pond

Kawazu tobikumu A frog jumps in

Mizu no oto The splash of water.
22.7 Training for the Tea Ceremony

Another aspect of culture that samurai studied was the tea ceremony. The tea ceremony fostered a spirit of harmony, reverence, and calm. It also served as an important way to form political alliances among samurai.

Each step of the ceremony had to be performed a certain way. A tea master invited guests into a small room. They entered through a doorway so low they had to crawl.

The tearoom was very simple. The only decorations were a scroll painting or an artistic flower arrangement. Guests sat silently, watching the master make and serve the tea. They then engaged in sophisticated discussions as they admired the utensils and the beautiful way the tea master had combined them.

To make the tea, the master heated water in an iron urn over a charcoal fire. Then he scooped powdered green tea from a container called a tea caddy into a small bowl. He ladled hot water into the bowl with a wooden dipper and then whipped the water and tea with a bamboo whisk. Each guest in turn took the bowl, bowed to the others, took three sips, and cleaned the rim with a tissue. Then he passed the bowl back to the master to prepare tea for the next guest.

Samurai also were trained in the art of writing, or calligraphy.
Page 247

22.8 Training in Spiritual Strength

Most samurai were Buddhists. Two forms of Buddhism that became popular in Japan were Amida and Zen. Samurai were drawn to both kinds of Buddhism, but especially Zen.

Amida Buddhism In the 12th century, a monk named Honen founded a popular form of Amida Buddhism. These Buddhists believed that all people could reach paradise. Honen taught that believers could reach paradise by relying on the mercy of Amida Buddha.

Amida had been an Indian prince. When he became a Buddha, it was said, he set up a western paradise called the Pure Land. Honen said that believers could enter the Pure Land by prayerfully repeating Amida’s name over and over—up to 70,000 times a day. Then, when a believer died, Amida Buddha and a group of bodhisattvas would be waiting to escort the believer into the Pure Land.

Honen’s disciple Shinran made this “Pure Land Buddhism” even more popular. He taught that believers could reach the western paradise by sincerely saying Amida’s name only once.

Zen Buddhism Another form of Buddhism, Zen, appealed to many samurai because of its emphasis on effort and discipline. Unlike Amida, Zen stressed self-reliance and achieving enlightenment through meditation. To reach enlightenment, Zen Buddhists meditated for hours, sitting erect and cross-legged without moving.

According to Zen Buddhism, becoming enlightened required giving up everyday, logical thinking. To jolt the mind into enlightenment, masters posed puzzling questions called koans. Probably the most famous koan is, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

Zen masters created gardens to aid in meditation. These artfully arranged gardens were often simple and stark. They symbolized nature instead of imitating it. Rocks in sand, for example, might represent islands in the sea.

Zen Buddhism was a good match for the samurai way of life. Zen helped samurai learn discipline, focus their minds, and overcome their fear of death.

Many samurai believed in Amida Buddha, depicted in this statue.
Samurai who believed in Zen Buddhism used simple gardens like this one to help them meditate.
Page 248

22.9 The Code of Bushido and Samurai Values

The samurai code developed over several centuries. By the 17th century, it took final form in Bushido, “The Way of the Warrior.”

The code of Bushido governed a samurai’s life. It called on samurai to be honest, fair, and fearless in the face of death. Samurai were expected to value loyalty and personal honor even more than their lives.

Loyalty and Personal Honor A samurai’s supreme duty was to be so loyal to his lord that he would gladly die for him. If his lord was murdered, a samurai might avenge his death. A samurai poem says,
Though a time come

when mountains crack

and seas go dry,

never to my lord

will I be found double-hearted!
Samurai were also expected to guard their personal honor. The least insult on the street could lead to a duel. One samurai, for example, accidentally knocked his umbrella against another samurai’s umbrella. This quickly turned into a quarrel and then a sword fight, resulting in the first samurai’s death.

Ritual Suicide The price for failing to live up to the code of Bushido was seppuku, or ritual suicide. There were many reasons for seppuku, including preserving personal honor and avoiding capture in battle. Samurai might also perform seppuku to atone for a crime, a shameful deed, or an insult to a person of higher rank. Some samurai killed themselves when their lord died, as a form of protest against a wrong or an injustice, or to shame their lord into behaving better. Finally, a samurai might be ordered to perform seppuku as punishment for a crime.

Seppuku became an elaborate ceremony. Guests were invited. The samurai prepared by taking a bath, unbinding his long hair, and putting on the white clothes used for dressing a corpse. He was served his favorite foods. When he finished eating, a sword was placed on the tray. He took the sword and plunged it into and across his stomach, trying to make a complete circle. A swordsman standing behind him quickly cut off his head to end his agony.

Samurai were fair, honest, and loyal to their lords above all else. They would fight deadly duels to avenge an insult or their lord’s death.
Page 249

22.10 Women in Samurai Society

The position of women in samurai society declined over time. In the 12th century, the women of the warrior class enjoyed honor and respect. By the 17th century, samurai women were treated as inferior to their husbands.

Samurai Women in the Twelfth Century In the 12th century, samurai women enjoyed considerable status. A samurai’s wife helped manage the household and promote the family’s interests. When her husband died, she could inherit his property and perform the duties of a vassal. Though women rarely fought, they were expected to be as loyal and brave as men.

Some women, like Tomoe Gozen, did take part in battles alongside men. Fighting one-on-one, she killed several enemies in a battle. Then she fenced with the enemy leader, who tried to drag her from her horse. When he tore off her sleeve, she angrily spun her horse around and cut off his head.

A woman named Koman is another famous warrior. During a battle on a lake, she saved her clan’s banner by swimming to shore under a shower of arrows with the banner in her teeth.

Samurai Women in the Seventeenth Century As the warrior culture developed, women’s position weakened. By the 17th century, samurai men were the unquestioned lords of their households. According to one saying, when young, women should obey their fathers; when grown, their husbands; and when old, their sons.

Girls did not even choose their own husbands. Instead, families arranged marriages for their daughters to increase their position and wealth. Wives were expected to bear sons and look after their husbands. Sometimes they were even expected to kill themselves when their husbands died.

A popular book of the time told women how to behave. They were to get up early and go to bed late. During the day they must weave, sew, spin, and take care of their households. They must stick to simple food and clothes and stay away from plays, singing, and other entertainment.

Not all Japanese women were treated the same way. Peasant women had some respect and independence because they worked alongside their husbands. But in samurai families, women were completely under men’s control.

In the 12th century, women as well as men were taught the military skills needed to be a samurai.
Page 250

22.11 Comparing Japan and Europe in the Middle Ages

The Japan of the samurai was both like and unlike Europe during the Middle Ages. In both societies, ties of loyalty and obligation bound lords and vassals. Both had rulers who rose to power as military chiefs. But in Europe, a military leader like William the Conqueror ruled as king. In Japan, the shogun ruled in the name of the emperor.

The daimyos of Japan were like the landholding lords of Europe. Both types of lords built castles and held estates that were worked by peasants.

Both the samurai of Japan and the knights of Europe were warriors who wore armor, rode horses, and owned land. Just as European knights had a code of chivalry, the samurai had the code of Bushido. The samurai code, however, was much more strict, since it demanded that a samurai kill himself to maintain his honor.
22.12 The Influence of Samurai Values and Traditions in Modern Times

Japan’s warrior society lasted until 1868, when political upheavals restored the power of the emperor. Modern Japan still feels the influence of the long era of the samurai.

In the 1940s, the Japanese who fought in World War II stayed true to the warrior code. Many soldiers killed themselves rather than surrender. Suicide pilots crashed planes loaded with explosives into enemy battleships. These pilots were called kamikazes (“divine winds”) after the storms that helped destroy an invading fleet in the 13th century.

The martial arts of the samurai are studied in Japan and around the world. Sports like judo and fighting with bamboo swords reflect samurai discipline and skill.

Other elements of samurai culture persist today. People in Japan continue to write haiku and practice calligraphy. Zen gardens and the tea ceremony remain popular. And the samurai ideals of loyalty to family and respect for rank are still alive in modern Japan.

Today instructors teach samurai fighting techniques to students wearing traditional padded armor.
Page 251

22.13 Chapter Summary

At the end of the 12th century, a class of warriors rose to prominence in Japan. Called samurai, these fierce warriors dominated Japan for nearly 700 years.

Samurai served shoguns (military leaders of Japan) and daimyos (local warlords). Over time, an elaborate samurai culture developed. Samurai wore flexible armor, rode horses, and fought with bows, spears, and swords. They were well trained as fearless fighters. They also studied literature and the arts. Many were Buddhists. The discipline of Zen Buddhism especially appealed to samurai.

Samurai were expected to live by a strict code that came to be called Bushido. This code prized honor, loyalty, and fearlessness in the face of death.

Women enjoyed high status in early samurai society, and some women fought as warriors. Over time, however, the status of samurai women declined.

In some ways, Japan’s samurai society resembled Europe in the Middle Ages. In both Europe and Japan, a lord-vassal system developed. The samurai can be compared with European knights. Samurai values and traditions continue to influence Japan today.

This chapter concludes our study of Japan. In the next unit, you will learn about three great native cultures of the Americas.

Samurai fought individual battles with samurai of equal rank.
Page 252

Japan Timeline

552 Buddhism is introduced to Japan.
593 – 628 Prince Shotoku rules Japan.
607 Construction of the oldest surviving five-storied pagoda begins.
Page 253


800 – 900 Hiragana writing develops.
1192 The first shogun is appointed.
794 – 1185 Aristocrats lead a golden age of culture during the Heian period.

Page 253

Unit 6
Page 254

(Unit TOC)

Chapter 23 The Maya

Chapter 24 The Aztecs

Chapter 25 Daily Life in Tenochtitlan

Chapter 26 The Incas

Chapter 27 Achievements of the Maya, Aztecs, and Incas
Page 256

Setting the Stage
Civilizations of the Americas

In the last unit, you learned about Japan. In this unit, you will explore three great civilizations of the Americas: the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Incas.

These civilizations flourished in Central and South America. Although the region extended into the deserts of southern Mexico, most of the area was covered with dense vegetation. Pine forests covered the mountain highlands. Thick rain forests and jungles, broad grasslands, and swamps spread across the warmer, wetter lowlands.
(Map Title)

The Mayan, Aztec, and Inca Civilizations
Page 257

More than 10,000 years ago, bands of hunter-gatherers crossed a land bridge that once linked Asia and North America. By 7000 B.C.E., Mesoamerica was home to many hunter-gather settlements.

Over time, people settled in small villages and began farming. They grew corn, beans, squash and other foods. As the population increased, different cultures, languages, and religions arose. People exchanged goods and ideas. Some settlements grew from centers of trade or religion into massive city-states.

In this unit, we’ll focus primarily on the period from 300 C.E., when the Mayan civilization first reached its height, to the early 1500s C.E., at the end of the Aztec and Inca Empires.

The three civilizations we’ll explore in this unit were different in many respects. But all three had a stable food supply; technology; a social structure with different jobs and status levels; a system of government; a religious system; and a highly developed culture that included architecture, art, and music.

Let’s start our exploration of the Americas with the Maya.
(Map Title)

Physical Features of the Americas
(Map Title)

Climate Regions in the Americas
Page 259

Chapter 23

The Maya

The Maya built entire cities of stone. The ruins of the ancient city of Tikal still stand.
23.1 Introduction

Our journey through the Americas begins with an exploration of the Mayan civilization. This great civilization lasted 3,500 years, from about 2000 B.C.E. to 1500 C.E. At its peak, it included present-day southern Mexico and large portions of Central America. In this chapter, you will learn about some of the most important achievements of the Mayan civilization.

You can still see the ruins of some amazing stone cities built by the Maya. The ruins of the ancient city of Tikal (shown on the opposite page) lie deep in the Guatemalan jungle.

Imagine standing at the heart of this city in the year 750 C.E. You are in a large, open plaza surrounded by eight soaring temple-pyramids. They reach into the sky like mountains. On the ground, as far as you can see, are structures on raised platforms. The structures are painted in bright colors. Nearby, in the center of the city, you see large palaces made of hand-cut limestone blocks. These palaces are the homes of the ruler, priests, and nobles. Farther out are the stone houses of the merchants and artisans. At the very edge of the city, you glimpse thousands of small, thatched-roof house-mounds where the peasants live.

Tikal was only one of more than 40 Mayan cities. How did the Maya create such great cities and such an advanced civilization? In this chapter, you will trace the development of Mayan civilization. Then you will take a closer look at several aspects of Mayan

Download 2.78 Mb.

Share with your friends:
1   ...   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   ...   43

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2022
send message

    Main page