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Re: [SCA-JML] Re: Female Samurai

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  • Solveig Throndardottir
    Noble Cousin! Greetings from Solveig! ... What sort of evidence do you require? The business about headship and inheritance is from Mass. You can plough
    Message 1 of 48 , Nov 21, 2006
      Noble Cousin!

      Greetings from Solveig!

      > I sincerely doubt your statement. Vague examples do not constitute
      > a precdent nor a
      > historical claim.

      What sort of evidence do you require? The business about headship and
      inheritance is from Mass. You can plough through the Mass stuff if
      you want to. He really is one of the very few English Language big
      name experts on the Kamakura period.

      > There are many incidents of many things: I do not recall anyone
      > in premodern Japan forming a guild of female samurai for the
      > purposes of brewing alcohol,

      I don't recall you putting either of those details in your earlier
      posting. Guilds in the Society are often study groups. I would not
      expect there to be much in the way of monopoly guilds of "samurai" of
      either gender in the likely period of interest of your friends and
      acquaintances. The closest we come to guilds of military folk might
      be one of the early uji. However, those were usually trade
      specialties as the uji generally had farming and military components
      as well as their craft specialties.

      > all in the same location, at the same time. If I am to assume that
      > these individuals hold
      > the same level of prestige as Kamakura estate leaders, than I think
      > we should hand out
      > kegutsu all around.

      Estate leaders? You should clarify what you mean. However, Mass is
      quite explicit about inheritance and leadership roles being held by

      > Also, Tamagawa Endo. "Onna Bugeisha no koufu." 'Muromachi-jidai
      > kenkyuu.' 2002:2.
      > In fact, Tamagawa argues that "female samurai" is an ahistorical
      > misnomer.

      If you want to get particularly snarky about terminology, (as I
      recall) Prof. Kenneth Richards insists that "samurai" originally
      referred to female servants in the imperial court. This is related to
      the verb "saburau". This little tidbit came up in my Classical
      Japanese course. Regardless, the bukke were a class. The question
      should be whether or not there were female soldiers or female
      military commanders. Some of the obvious examples come from the Nihongi.

      > On both points you have sought to challenge me on, I have
      > responded with published, refereed counter-examples.

      Ahh. What refereed counter-examples? You cite one above. Where are
      the others? Unless possibly you are referring to the vague reference
      to an article appearing in the the journal of the Green Society.

      > I do not wish to take up your valuable research time. So I will
      > avoid distracting you with
      > my replies. Debating loose examples, without reference, does not
      > interest me either. So I
      > will no further interfere with your busy schedule.

      Oh good grief! If you are referring to my having to run off a couple
      of hours ago. I did in fact run off and I am back. Incidentally, the
      English language Sen Soshitsu book that I referred to having is: "The
      Japanese Way of Tea: From Its Origins in China to Sen Rikyu", by Sen
      Shoshitsu XV trans. V. Dixon Morris. The other English language tea
      books which I have ready to had are "Tea in Japan: Essays on the
      History of Chanoyu" by Paul Varley and Kamakura Isao, and
      "Rediscovering Rikyu: and the beginnings of the Japanese Tea
      Ceremony" by Herbert Plutschow.

      Now then. Grabbing a few books off one of my book shelves.

      "In fact, the Kamakura lord [Minamoto no Yoritomo] distributed jito
      posts to anyone, warrior or non-warrior, male or female, whom he
      might wish to reward." (Mass. Lordship and Inheritance in Early
      Medieval Japan. p. 44)

      "A fourth new practice, already referred to, received its first
      stimulus from Yoritomo. This was the proliferation -- after 1205 --
      of women jito. Women, in fact, came to hold these titles by four
      major routes. First, they might simply be appointed -- as occurred in
      1220 to a woman of Izu Province. What makes this case interesting is
      that the woman had a brother, who served as her deputy (itodai). A
      second, more common route was the assignment of titles previously
      held by a woman's husband. Remarkably, at least some of these cases
      followed treachery by those husbands against the Bakufu. More logical
      and normal were assignments to widows whose husbands had died, not
      treacherously, but loyally in battle. A variation involved intestat
      cases -- husbands who had died before writing their wills. The final
      two routes were the most common of all: women who inherited jito
      titles from a parent or spouse; and women who were invested with an
      executor's authority to follow the death of their husband.

      As a result of these reforms, women of the warrior elite reached the
      acme of their power and influence. As we shall see, this development
      proved only ephemeral; it was in decline by the late thirteenth
      century. But for several generations, unmarried women and women as
      widows had the potential to dominate their families. The widow of
      Yoritomo, Hojo Masako, is only the most famous example. At any rate,
      the origins of this phenomenon, so central to the history of the
      family, clearly bear closer scrutiny.' (ibid. p. 48-49)

      There is lots of this stuff up until at least the Jokyu War. Mass
      also notes:

      "A month before the outbreak of hostilities a female released her
      jito titles to an eldest daughter. At the same time, she promised the
      inheritance to her son. We see in this episode a classic example of
      an ichigo conveyance -- arranged in this instance by a woman! The
      Hojo-controlled Bakufu duly confirmed the release." (ibid. pg. 54)

      The Jokyu War complicates the issue concerning women as the Bakufu
      leadership called on "family heads" (which at this time included
      women) for service in the Bakufu army during the Jokyu War. [ibid.
      pg. 55]

      Mass provides an entire chapter [ibid ch 3] on the Soryo (house head)
      system. Here inheritance was from soryo to chakushi (principal heir)
      and mass goes on to illustrate cases where daughers served as
      principal heirs even when there were sons! Mass goes on at some
      length describing cases where various women achieved soryo status.
      "For example, a father who had received his inheritance from his
      mother now bequeathed it in perpetuity to his eldest daugher; she
      became house head and a Kamakura vassal in 1239. (ibid. p. 77)

      Female inheritance persisted into the 14th century:

      "Conveyed: Tamura Village in Hitachi Province; the deputyship (daikan
      shiki) of Katayama Village, Kanabara ho, Igu Estate, Mutsu Province,
      and land near the western gate in Kamakura. The aforesaid places are
      deeded to my daughter, the Lady Kaisu. Let there be no disturbancves
      about this. Should something untoward arise, judgment shall lie with
      her mother (haha no hakarai). Should there be no children, release
      will be made to her younger sisters. Wherefore, this instrument is
      thus. 3d year of Genkyo [1323], 11th month, 3d day uemon no jo,
      Sadayuki." (ibid. pg. 287)

      Mass also writes:

      "In sum, the values of Kamakura society seemed to require a show of
      public deference to males by females. Yet, as we have seen, the
      realities of power might be very differernt. Anonymity became an
      extension of namelessness only in the absence of an
      inheretance." (Mass. Antiquity and Anachronims in Japanese History.
      p. 117)

      Mass also goes on in this book about jito titles and shiki rights and
      control of estates being held by women during the kamakura period.

      We also meet prominent women during earlier times:

      "The other unit was much larger, having four officials, as was
      appropriate for an imperial relative of the Second Degree (nihon).
      Scholars disagree over the identity of the patron of the second
      organization, but many, including archaeologists at the Nara National
      Cultural Properties Research Institute, think it belonged to Nagay's
      chief wife, Princess Kibi. Other recrods indicate that Kibi was known
      as the Northern Mistress. ... Her mother was Emperor Genmei, her
      brother Emperor Mommu, and her sister Emperor Gensho. ..." (Wm. Wayne
      Farris. Sacred Texts and Buried Treasures: Issues in the Historical
      Archaeology of Ancient Japan. p. 227)

      Look. I never claimed that there were vast amazonian armies in
      premodern Japan. However, I believe that it is safe to claim that
      there were more female leaders in premodern Japan than the total
      population of just about any SCA barony. There is a LOT of evidence
      for women holding office and family headship up through the mid-
      Kamakura period. There are accounts of women taking to the field
      dating as far back as the Nihongi and continuing up through about the

      Mikiso Hane of Knox College goes so far in "Premodern Japan: A
      Historical Survey" as to claim that local leaders were primarily
      female in early Japan.
      He claims that women only lost inheritance and leadership rights
      during the Sengoku period. Another thing, we do see interesting
      village leadership patterns, but I would have to go rummaging to try
      and find my sources for that one, and to be honest most of my sources
      are packed away in boxes.

      Unfortunately, I have once more to go off and do things which I must
      accomplish in the near future. So, for now at least, anon.

      Your Humble Servant
      Solveig Throndardottir
      Amateur Scholar
    • Solveig Throndardottir
      Noble Cousin! Greetings from Solveig! ... I do subscribe to Monumenta Nipponica and the Journal of Asian Studies. Subscribing to Japanese journals is a bit
      Message 48 of 48 , Nov 30, 2006
        Noble Cousin!

        Greetings from Solveig!

        > Maybe you could subscribe to some of the top journals . . . ones in
        > Japanese would be a good start.

        I do subscribe to Monumenta Nipponica and the Journal of Asian
        Studies. Subscribing to Japanese journals is a bit more difficult at

        > Otherwise, I don't see the point in discussing issues if you are
        > unwilling to read and study
        > contrary viewpoints.

        The tone of this "discussion" is becoming unnecessarily snarky. As I
        recall, you began this particular exchange by making an
        unsubstantiated claim.
        Providing citations afterwards is laudable, but becoming petulant
        when people do not immediately read your citations despite the fact
        that it requires time to track them down is simply unreasonable.
        Regardless, as I recall, your assertion was that there were more
        female samurai in a single SCA barony than in all of pre-modern
        Japan. This is an astonishingly strong statement. It requires an
        incidence of female samurai in ALL of premodern Japanese history so
        low as to be effectively zero. Even one female samurai in all of
        Japan every few generations or so would over the course of several
        hundred years exceed the total population of all but the largest SCA
        baronies. Further, at least some of the females of my acquaintance
        who do engage in martial activities do in fact affect masculine
        persona while doing so. So, please at least clarify whether these
        females whom you object to are in fact asserting themselves to be
        undisguised amazonian warriors from premodern Japan. Finally, I
        wonder whether your objections also extend to women playing flutes or
        other ostensibly masculine instruments.

        Your Humble Servant
        Solveig Throndardottir
        Amateur Scholar
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