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Tattoo designs - S >> Samurai

Samurai warrior tattoo design ideasSamurai Tattoos - The samurai warrior is the penultimate symbol and epitome of masculine courage, honour and justice within Japanese tattooing, and the samurai represents the highest masculine ideals within Japanese culture. The samurai adhered to a strict code of conduct called 'Bushido', meaning 'the way of the warrior'. Bushido was based on the Zen Buddhist principles of Rectitude, Courage, Benevolence, Respect, Trust, Honour and Loyalty until death. Other ideals to which the samurai aspired were self-discipline, frugality, self-sacrifice and nobility.

As a samurai, a warrior was expected to conduct himself and act as if each day were his last, as it might well be. If every day might be a samurai's last, he was expected to keep his affairs in order, so that his family would not be burdened upon his death. A samurai did not want to owe money or other debts for the same reason. A samurai lived in the now, cognizant always of the fleeting nature of existence. The cherry blossom, with its ethereal, fragile beauty came symbolize the samurai for that very reason.

Samurai images

Samurai tattoos are some of the most elaborate and extensive of Japanese designs and the kanji characters representing the Bushido principles are favourites with practitioners of the martial arts. Samurai were a favorite subject of wood-block prints and other cultural art, and Japanese tattoo artists often drew upon this rich cultural trove of images for inspiration.

Samurai images

Samurai Warrior Tattoo DesignsThough historic fact points to the samurai class as elitist and idle, given more to carousing and gambling than to defeating its enemies on the battle field, the noble aspirations associated with them continue to excite. The image of the samurai as strong and courageous warriors exhibiting fantastic swordsmanship has survived in Japan, and has inspired the West. Some modern historians insist that the celebration of the ideals that the samurai embodied is as important as knowing the facts.

The samurai were the military aristocrats of their day. They were protectors of the shoguns and warlords that ruled Japan until the Meiji Emperor was restored to power in the 19th century. The majority of the samurai class were warriors, but some were more famous as philosophers and artists, and never saw battle. A samurai was expected to marry and father children, not only because centuries of warfare depleted the population, but to assure the continuation of the social class to which he belonged. Unlike the knights of Europe - who did not inherit the title but were given it by the reigning monarch - the samurai's wife and children were also samurai.

The sword became the symbol of the samurai, and the specific sword known as the katana, was curved, slender, and single-edged with a long grip that could be held with both hands. His armour was of leather or iron and covered with lacquer - not wood or bamboo as popularly believed. The armour and helmet of Darth Vader appears to be based on that of the samurai, circa 1600. Symbols of the sun, moon, and stars were used by the samurai and appeared on their helmets and flags. Their celestial powers were believed to aid the warrior in battle.

Samurai Inspiration Gallery - Click here to get inspired!As a tattoo design, the samurai symbolizes all the highest ideals of Bushido, honour, loyalty and duty. It expresses the wearer's understanding and appreciation of the importance of living in the moment, of taking not one second of existence for granted.

Get inspired by some really great images and photos in our Samurai Inspiration Gallery

See also: Hannya Mask Tattoos, Geisha Tattoos, Japanese Tattoo Index

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Tattoo designs - S >> Samurai

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