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Samurai and painting

It is known that the samurai estate in Japan appeared at the turn of the 7th-8th centuries A.D. The word samurai itself means a servant-analogue of the Russian word warrior.
Samurai – armed servants, became peasants, family members of the lower or middle aristocracy. The fee was simple – housing and food. Instead, it required a willingness to fulfill military duty, if necessary, to die for his master. Gradually, the number of samurai increased, and these were absolutely professional warriors, who transmitted military traditions in a hereditary way.

With the increase in the number of troops, the accumulation of forces and power, central power began to weaken in Japan, and in the second half of the 15th century feudal feuds on land redistribution developed into a civil war (1467–1586), known as the “Age of the Warring Provinces”. This was a period of the formation of military equipment as an art with its schools and concepts of warfare, the time of the influx of peasants into the ranks of samurai, the emergence of ninjas, secret spies. It was during this period that most feudal castles were built in Japan.

Tetomi Hijaoshi, who united the fragmented feudal possessions into a single state in 1591, granted the samurai a number of privileges. One of which is the right to carry two swords, and it was said: “All warriors, both leaders and soldiers, have two swords in their belts. In ancient times, these swords were called “long sword” and “short sword”. These days they are called the “sword” and “satellite sword”. We will only say that in our area, for some reason, it is customary that all warriors carry two swords on their belts. This is the Way of the Warrior … ” The second – the ability to kill any commoner in place with disrespectful attitude.


Taetomi hizayoshi
The Tokugawa Shogunate period is a period of peace and a period of lack of demand for samurai. But it was during this period that martial arts schools began to emerge with a clear outline. After the civil war of 1866-1869 and the restoration of the Meiji dynasty with the introduction of the public wearing of the sword and the recruitment of the army on a draft basis, the samurai, as a privileged class, was destroyed.


Tokugav (1603-1868)

What do samurai and artist have in common?
So what is the role of samurai in the visual arts?

Frankly, when we talk about samurai (warriors, philosophers, poets and artists), only Miyamoto Musashi (1584 – 1645), a master of jujutsu and fencing, comes to mind (from the entire galaxy of warriors) – although he did not consider himself one . As an artist, Miyamoto Musashi is known in the “Sumi-e” genre, a painting that penetrated Japan from China in the 14th century.

What is common in martial arts and painting? This is concentration, the ability to relax, the presentation of the picture itself – both the canvas and the fleeting battle. This is a work to improve your skills.


Miyamoto Musashi
The direction of the painting is similar to watercolor, in practice black is used with dissolved gray tones of the carcass. The image that the artist puts is not transferring reality to paper, but the way he sees the world, its essence Like the practice adopted in martial arts, the art of “ink and painting” (namely, “sumi-e” is translated) requires meditative initial focus on a white sheet of paper. Then, relaxation follows with reflection on the drawing – until the drawing appears before the eyes.

Perhaps it is the ability to enter into a meditative trance, similar to the principles of “sumi-e”, and this: refinement, the ability to enjoy peace, accepting a person’s lostness in space, awareness of incomprehensibility and charm, allowed the master even before reaching 29 years, killing sixty opponents and live to old age.

The principles uniting the warrior and the artist of Japan
There are certain principles that unite the warrior and the artist of Japan. These are the principles: “spirit like water” and “spirit like moon”. Following these principles means that the emotional state before the action should be like the unclouded surface of the lake, calm and like the moon – to illuminate the entire space surrounding a person, but at the same time to isolate the main object of the action. It is following these simple principles, and this is: meditation practice – full focus on the object or action, peace of mind, the ability to see the whole picture as a whole, highlight the main and everyday exercises – this makes it possible to achieve true mastery. And this skill is amazing.

At the heart of the education of a young warrior (and it is worth noting, they became samurai at the age of 15), in addition to the main disciplines – fencing, hand-to-hand combat or archery, the sense of beauty faded into the background. The main line of behavior of a warrior is to live with honor and die with dignity. Rarely who of the soldiers lived to be 40 years old. And it’s hard to imagine that a hand trained to catch an arrow on the fly, punching armor with a fist in the chest with a fist or chopping the opponent with one swipe of the sword

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