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Saturday, August 20, 2016

1856 Photo Of A Samurai

When one thinks of a ‘samurai’, we usually conjure up images of stiff-talking—almost gruff—Japanese armored warriors who could easily take down a disrespectful peasant with a swift snicker-snack of their long, lean katana sword.

Sometimes, there’s a metal mask obscuring their face, sometimes we see their face. Sometimes their Kabuto (兜, 冑, helmet) has antler horns embedded at the sides, sometimes we see an obscenely long gold, crescent moon-like object stuck on the front.

There’s a look about them… leather… metal… but always ornately designed and covered with symbols and symbolism.

And then there’s the bowl on the man above.

The photo purports to be an image from 1856… a hand-colored portrait of a samurai.

Sure… he has two swords tucked away in a belt at the front. I had always pictured them as having two swords in sheathes stuck in a cross formation on the back, but I’m sure my version is merely some glorified stereotype.

No really… I don’t know enough (anything, actually) about this topic.

But… I really do question the hat/helmet of the man in this photograph.

Was he really a samurai? Could this merely be one of those times where people get to dress up in a costume for their photo?

You can't even see the person's face! That sort of coolness says samurai to me... still...

That hat...

It looks more like a traditional Japanese bamboo hat… oh wait!

Could this be the type of hat a ronin (masterless samurai - their master died while under his protection) would wear? No… that’s more conical, I think.

It looks like a large Takuhatsu-gasa 托鉢笠(大)style hat, according to what I saw on the Internet.

If anyone knows what this hat is and even what class of Japanese person might wear it, please let me know!

It just seems like that type of head gear would not be conducive to fighting… it’s tough to see your opponent, let alone avoid being tagged by him.

Then again, perhaps the hat is removed when battle commences.

As for the photo… I found it several years ago on the Internet and placed it in a folder of things I mean to write a blog on. I do not know if the image is owned by anyone or any institution.

If you own it, and will allow me to utilize it here, I will provide credit. If not, I will remove it per your discretion.

No wait... I found it:

I took the image from here:

But the photo on that website indicates that the image is by: 

Felice Beato/Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty Images

Andrew (I had kept this information on my computer at work for three years) Joseph

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