Samurai Women Essay

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The History of Warring Women
Though samurai in the traditional sense where not formed until the late-Heian period. High ranking women engaged in combat and took military command. Instances of onna-bugeisha date from before Japan’s first occurrences of written history all the way to the mid-nineteenth. The warrior women’s roles in war transformed several times throughout the expansive timeline in which they existed.
Some of the first evidence of combative women dates from the mid Kofun Period (250-538 CE). Physical records of this time, if made, were recorded by an outside party such as China in the country’s biographical anthologies . Further evidence is found by excavating tombs that were the final resting place of chieftains or ōkimi. Each expansive burial mound holds not only the heavily ornamented remains of ōkimi, but also a slew of bronze weaponry that suggests possible military power. What has surprised archeologists is the nearly 1:1 male to female ratio among ōkimi and the distinct lack of gender inequality in
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These weapons were deemed appropriate for women as they allowed them to redirect offensive attacks, keep their distance from enemies in battle, and unleash quick strikes in close-quarters combat. Bows or yumi were the most popular weapon utilized by onna-bugeisha in the Heian and Kamakura Periods before the creation of the katana. According to Bloomberg (1994) Japanese archers fired arrows up to 60 meters while on foot or horseback. Art of the Samurai describes that unlike most European bows, yumi were asymmetrical as the top bow limb is significantly longer than the bottom portion. The length of theses bows can hover over 7 feet long, further setting them apart from their western counterparts (p. 49). Tomoe, the Heian retainer, was said to be well versed in these massive bows. The high tension bow strings did not stop her from out preforming the male samurai in her

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