By Bill P, Katie D, Sydney R World Cultures Period Seven April 4, 2009
In these few paragraphs, you will learn about samurai’s armor, swords, and bows. You will learn how swords are made, and how they take a long time to make. Next, you will learn the proper etiquette and steps to archery, and how the bows are made. Finally, you will learn how armor was made, and how armor protects the samurai under it. First let’s look at the swords.
How Swords are Made
A sword smith prayed, fasted, and poured cold water on himself
Different kinds of steel strips were welded together to make a bar about one and a half inches long
The bars were heated and cut almost in half. It was then heated and folded over again. This was repeated up to twenty times
After shaping the bar into a sword, the sword smith tempered it
The blade was covered with clay
The blade was heated
The blade was immediately put in water
If the sword survived it would be finished
If it fell apart nothing could be done
After the sword was completed, markings would be engraved in the sword with ivory or gold.
What is the Relationship between the Samurai and his Sword
When a child was born a sword was placed in his sleeping chamber
The long sword owned by a samurai showed the owner's courage, honor and obedience.
Good swords reflect a good person while bad swords do the opposite.
A sword could bring its owner good fortune, virtue, or sickness.
During the 13th century, All that was important to a samurai was symbolized through his sword.
Another fact that shows the relationship between the samurai and his sword is it was offensive to step
it was offensive to step on a samurai's sword
if someone was to kick a samurai's sword, it symbolized a fight to the death.
When a samurai died, his sword was placed at his grave
How Samurai Bows were Made
The bow and arrow was a favored weapon of the samurai.
The Japanese word for bow was Yumi .
The bow was made of oak wood which was faced with bamboo.
The cane like binding style toughened the poor glue used to fasten the sections of the bow together.
The whole bow would get lacquered, or glossed to get it weatherproofed.
The lacquer was not very visible, so the bow would get a final coating of wax.
The strings were usually made of plant fiber.
The plants that were used were hemp or ramie.
The arrows were made of bamboo.
The nock was cut just above a node to add strength to the arrow.
After that three feathers are added for beauty.
During war samurai would carve his family name, and origin on his arrows.
Some archers would fight on horseback.
Archers that had fought on horseback was a limited job, and only samurai with sufficient skill were chosen.
How to use a Samurai’s Bow
When shooting an arrow there is etiquette, posture and graceful movements.
Hitting the bull’s eye is also very important.
This is called kuydo, which is archery.
All samurai were trained with bows and arrows.
At samurai schools archery was taught as a traditional sport.
In the sport the traditional Japanese bow would take shape in the hands and feet.
When doing archery there are certain steps to shoot an arrow.
The first step an archer would do is to hold the bow above the head to clear the horse.
Then they would move their hands apart as the bow was brought down.
This move would end with the left arm straight and the right and near the right ear.
Assuming an archer would already have an arrow on the string the arrow fingers supporting the thumb be relaxed.
Then (having released the arrow) rotate the bow in the bow hand so that it would have the string touching the outside of the bow arm.
How to Make Armor
A suit of samurai's armor took more than a year to make.
Silk, bamboo, leather, and iron are put together to make samurai armor.
Their armor was made of steel scales and silk cords, and they had panels that were shirt-like to ensure protection for their lower body.
On a traditional Samurai's suit silk cords were laced jointed to the steel scales.
A samurai's traditional armor is called yoroi.
If a samurai was higher ranking, they would wear a helmet with horns made out of wood and painted, on top.
Around 25 pounds was what a samurai's armor weighed.
Another part of a samurai's armor was the arm guards, made of iron plates.
Another piece of armor is a neck guard.
A samurai's neck guard is made with lacquer coated on top of iron plates.
How the Samurai’s Armor Protected the Samurai
The steel in armor is really tough so a blade won’t go through it very well. There were also many layers of armor, which makes it hard to get a blade in. most of the armor is made of iron and that is a hard material and protects well. Also, most of their body was protected. Their head was protected by a helmet. Their lower legs protected by shin guards. Their neck was also protected by a neck guard. Their back and chest was safe, too, because of dô. Dô means cuirass, and cuirass means a piece of armor that protects the chest. If someone is trying to kill a samurai that is armed, it would be hard.
You learned what samurai swords are, and how they display their rank. Then, you learned how bows and arrows were used, and created. You then learned how armor protects samurai and how it is made. This hopefully clarifies what you would like to know about samurai.
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