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"WGF ashiguru" Topic


7 Posts

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545 hits since 23 Jan 2013
©1994-2014 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2013 3:56 a.m. PST

I noticed the the ashiguru got two swords, the small over the big type thing, I though only samurai were allowed to carry two swords like that?

rjabox23 Jan 2013 4:21 a.m. PST

My understanding is that certainly by the late Sengoku period Ashigaru often wore both swords(daisho). Woodcuts from the period seem to show them with either one or two swords.

setsuko23 Jan 2013 4:58 a.m. PST

The sword hunts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_hunt) were mostly conducted at the end of the period, and the whole "only samurai are allowed to wear swords" were not fully entrenched until the Edo period.

A lot of the differences between samurai and non-samurai were not clearly codified and pursued until Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In his division between samurai and non-samurai, ashigaru counted as samurai, even if they were on the lowest rung of the samurai ladder. So an ashigaru would be allowed to wear swords just like any other samurai.

In practicality, ashigaru could range from well equipped loyal retainers to peasants who had scavanged some equipment and join an army that needed recruits. The general development was that there was a gradual shift over the period were the ashigaru were of higher and higher quality, but that was a general development and not one that included every ashigaru in Japan. So it's not unreasonable to depict your ashigaru from anything from samurai of modest means to barely a notch above peasant rabble.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2013 7:27 a.m. PST

Thanks didn't know that, live and learn

Lion in the Stars23 Jan 2013 8:18 a.m. PST

Toyotomi was a jumped-up Ashigaru himself.

Caesar23 Jan 2013 8:22 a.m. PST

It is my understanding that Ashigaru were considered the lowest level of samurai by late Warring States period.

setsuko23 Jan 2013 11:17 a.m. PST

Lion: indeed!

Toyotomi was not only born of a humble pedigree, he was born as one of the group of ashigaru that made up a muddled social group of part time peasants, part time soldiers. This was a common starting point of ashigaru families: they started out as peasants, but achieved status as warriors by joining campaigns as part-time ashigaru. As the need of full time employed soldiers increased, more and more of these part time soldiers could leave the farming behind completely.

Ironically enough, Toyotomi himself declared that this route was to be abolished, and only those born in samurai (including ashigaru) families were allowed to be armed and fight. The wily guy simply kicked down the very ladder for social mobility that he had climbed himself!

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