The Gate of the Restoration - Patriot who supported the Restoration
Cutting bodies: Illustrations from period Japanese manuals on tameshigiri and suemonogiri
- by Randy McCall
The origins of modern test cutting descend from a much more violent era. Modern tameshigiri is defined as the testing of the skill of the practitioner by cutting objects, usually rolled straw mats or bundled straw.
In the late Edo Period (1603 t0 1868) and early Meiji Period (1868 to 1912) — where a smith or the owner of a blade might wish to prove the its quality and cutting power — tameshigiri was defined as testing the sword against the object being cut. Under this definition, helmets (kabuto), armour (yoroi), and heavy sections of bamboo or wood might be cut. This testing process, if incorrectly carried out by unskilled practitioners, or where the quality of the blade was not the best, could easily result in the destruction of the sword.
This same time periods also saw the practice of the extreme form of tameshigiri known as aratameshi — testing a sword to destruction to see how much abuse it could take. As I mention in the articled linked to, many believe this practice was an attempt by the Japanese to prove the superiority of their weapons over European blades.
In even earlier times (Edo period and before) another version of tameshigiri was performed on the bodies of executed criminals. This practice is more properly defined as suemonogiri, “the cutting of tied objects”.
The reason for this is quite simple; the bodies of criminals would be tied into various positions to allow the test cutter to make the appropriate cuts.
In this grisly test, positioning was important, as the blades would often bisect the criminal’s body along lines designed to cut through the maximum amount of bone possible. It required extreme skill on the part of the tester, who must cut precisely or potentially break the blade.
That such a manual existed for the training of test cutters shows the importance this position held. At certain points of Japanese history professional test cutters known as “otameshi-geisha” were in great demand.
(天狗, “heavenly dog”) are a type of legendary creature found in Japanese folk religion and are also considered a type of Shinto god (kami) or yōkai (supernatural beings). Although they take their name from a dog-like Chinese demon (Tiangou), the tengu were originally thought to take the forms of birds of prey, and they are traditionally depicted with both human and avian characteristics. The earliest tengu were pictured with beaks, but this feature has often been humanized as an unnaturally long nose, which today is widely considered the tengu’s defining characteristic in the popular imagination.
Buddhism long held that the tengu were disruptive demons and harbingers of war. Their image gradually softened, however, into one of protective, if still dangerous, spirits of the mountains and forests. Tengu are associated with the ascetic practice known as Shugendō, and they are usually depicted in the distinctive garb of its followers, the yamabushi.
Boom. This us what I wanted.
Umm, you’re welcome? =P
Female women warriors of the Japanese upper class are known as onna-bugeisha (女武芸者). They are members of the bushi (samurai) class in feudal Japan who were trained to use weapons to protect their, honor, family, and household from enemies. Many of them were widows, wives, daughters, and even rebel women who engaged in battle beside samurai men. See more at: http://www.kcpwindowonjapan.com/2014/03/heroic-women-of-the-samurai-class/
samurai sword katana