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The Honourable Second: Forensic evidence of medieval kaishaku in seppuku

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posted on Aug, 23 2016 @ 12:57 AM
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Interesting title, eh?

So let me explain (and then give a link to this rather fascinating - if a bit gruesome for some tastes - article.)

This refers to the Japanese practice of suicide by knife that was done in certain situations (when a side was losing, the lord might commit seppuku to prevent being taken hostage or a disgraced noble might commit suicide as a deed of honor.)

Wikipedia describes it briefly:


Seppuku is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. It was originally reserved for samurai.[2] Part of the samurai bushido honor code, seppuku was used either voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies (and likely suffer torture) or as a form of capital punishment for samurai who had committed serious offenses, or performed because they had brought shame to themselves.
Wikipedia link


Originally it was a solo affair (or witnessed by only a few) but by the 16th century, it became a formal ritual under the code of Bushido (way of the samurai) Usually this was only done by men - women would do a type of throat-cutting instead.

For men, there was a "Second"; another man who stood behind him and when the samurai started the cut, this "backup" man would draw his sword and cut through the man's neck and spine - but leave just enough skin so that the head was still attached to the body. Do it wrong - remove the head or fail to kill the victim - and the Second was disgraced. As you can imagine, not many wanted to do this - but they also went through a lot of training so they could do it.


As you might expect, there are forensic anthropologists who find this fascinating and who have studied medieval Japanese skeletons to find evidence that this really DID happen and has a long history. The title for this post comes from an article of the same name which can be found at this link.

It was interesting and I thought folks might enjoy a change of pace.




posted on Aug, 23 2016 @ 01:07 AM
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I would suppose that leaving the head attached somewhat, was to prove seppuku was done in honor and not just stolen valor?

Who did they practice on? lol.








posted on Aug, 23 2016 @ 09:07 AM
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a reply to: burgerbuddy
I remember reading something about a special word for those that would dress the neck after seppuku, apparently that was a reserved act as well for the samurai after death.



posted on Aug, 23 2016 @ 10:12 AM
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a reply to: Byrd
Yeah, interesting, I'd rather you haven't shared this. It only reminds me of what I've read from Sun Tzu of another way the ancient Chinese preferred to kill themselves- by running towards a stonewall or stone pillar head on to smash ones head into. Just imagine the massive headache one gets if not done correctly.

edit on 09 11 2015 by MaxTamesSiva because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 23 2016 @ 05:29 PM
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a reply to: burgerbuddy

The head rolling about was seen as undignified, ergo leaving that strip of skin to keep it attached.



posted on Aug, 23 2016 @ 05:47 PM
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originally posted by: MaxTamesSiva
a reply to: Byrd
Yeah, interesting, I'd rather you haven't shared this. It only reminds me of what I've read from Sun Tzu of another way the ancient Chinese preferred to kill themselves- by running towards a stonewall or stone pillar head on to smash ones head into. Just imagine the massive headache one gets if not done correctly.


Haha siick, I've never thought about suicide in that way, very non-effective.



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