| FORUM | ARCHIVE |                    | TOTAL QUIZ RESULT |


  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Sepukku, the suicidal ceremony
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login


Welcome stranger, click here to read about some of the great benefits of registering for a free account with us and joining us in our global online community.


Sepukku, the suicidal ceremony

 Post Reply Post Reply
Author
literaryClarity View Drop Down
Colonel
Colonel
Avatar

Joined: 02 May 2014
Location: Texas
Status: Offline
Points: 698
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote literaryClarity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Sepukku, the suicidal ceremony
    Posted: 24 Sep 2014 at 04:42
I have often wondered how painful the act of cutting one's own belly would be, especially in a ceremonial setting.  The sheer act by the self with total awareness and choice to commit the act rather than to experience death by alternative such as torture or in some disgraceful setting must have made the pain all the more intense.  I suppose that may be the reason why there is in depictions a man standing behind the individual with sword raised high at the ready to deliver the actual killing blow.  Now the specific term Sepukku refers to the Japanese one although I am sure there have been many other settings where just such a suicide or attempted suicide has taken place.
http://hwyst.hangzhou.com.cn/wmyzh/content/2013-10/09/content_4920423.htm
Back to Top
Sponsored Links


Back to Top
toyomotor View Drop Down
Moderator
Moderator
Avatar

Joined: 15 Feb 2014
Location: Tasmania, AUST.
Status: Offline
Points: 4805
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2014 at 07:54
As recently as the 1940's, Ritual Seppuku was practiced by Military Officers who were defeated or otherwise disgraced.

It was usual for a close friend of the intended suicide to be attended by a close friend who would complete the ceremony by beheading the person concerned, especially if Seppuku was not completed properly.

"Loss of Face" was the ultimate disgrace and the only method of atonement was Seppuku.

It's also of interest to note that suicide was practiced by the upper eschelons of European society if they were disgraced by such things as bankruptcy or other business or personal matters.

Edited by toyomotor - 08 Oct 2014 at 13:07
It's not that I was born in Ireland,
It's the Ireland that was born in me.
Back to Top
caldrail View Drop Down
Chieftain
Chieftain
Avatar

Joined: 21 Jan 2014
Location: Rushey Platt
Status: Offline
Points: 1039
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Oct 2014 at 10:35
Quote
I have often wondered how painful the act of cutting one's own belly would be, especially in a ceremonial setting. 

Excruciating by all accounts, and the act requires considerable concentration and determination. The cut was across the belly with a final upward movement to ensure that the warrior is still concious. Most weren't. Pain and shock prevented the majority from completing the ritual.

Quote The sheer act by the self with total awareness and choice to commit the act rather than to experience death by alternative such as torture or in some disgraceful setting must have made the pain all the more intense.

The act was as painful as it was likely to be. The circumstances made no difference.

Quote I suppose that may be the reason why there is in depictions a man standing behind the individual with sword raised high at the ready to deliver the actual killing blow. 

There was indeed a reason. It was well known that most suicides would not be completed before the victim was incapacitated, therefore a second man, usually a trusted friend, would stand ready to sever the head and spare the victim further embarrasement. The aim was to sever the head but not completely, leaving just enough flesh/skin to keep the head attached, thus avoided embarrasing the onlookers with a gory and unpleasant sight.

Quote Now the specific term Sepukku refers to the Japanese one although I am sure there have been many other settings where just such a suicide or attempted suicide has taken place.

Sepekku is an honourable act - it redeems the victim of dishonour, and was conducted in that light, though in fairness it was often the case that suicides were pretty much forced upon the victim by politics. The Japanese don't say much about other forms of suicide. Clearly the concept of dying deliberately and heroically in combat existed, but the Japanese tended to find ways to struggle against their opponents until circumstances forced an honourable end. After all, the infamous ninja were likely nothing more than samurai in disguise - and acting dishourably.
http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/
Back to Top
literaryClarity View Drop Down
Colonel
Colonel
Avatar

Joined: 02 May 2014
Location: Texas
Status: Offline
Points: 698
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote literaryClarity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2014 at 02:21
How would leaving a little piece of skin save the man from embarassment? He's dead.  It's just going to prevent the head from tumbling onto the grassy fields and lost.  That is if such a thing were even possible.
http://hwyst.hangzhou.com.cn/wmyzh/content/2013-10/09/content_4920423.htm
Back to Top
toyomotor View Drop Down
Moderator
Moderator
Avatar

Joined: 15 Feb 2014
Location: Tasmania, AUST.
Status: Offline
Points: 4805
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2014 at 08:48
Originally posted by literaryClarity literaryClarity wrote:

How would leaving a little piece of skin save the man from embarassment? He's dead.  It's just going to prevent the head from tumbling onto the grassy fields and lost.  That is if such a thing were even possible.



It was to lessen or prevent the family and/or close friends embarrassment if the act of seppuku was botched.

The whole point was that seppuku would virtually "pay off" the act which led to the perceived need for suicide in the first place. If the intended botched the act, it could be said that he lacked sufficient courage and therefore would result in "loss of face" by the family.
It's not that I was born in Ireland,
It's the Ireland that was born in me.
Back to Top
caldrail View Drop Down
Chieftain
Chieftain
Avatar

Joined: 21 Jan 2014
Location: Rushey Platt
Status: Offline
Points: 1039
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2014 at 11:24
Originally posted by literaryClarity literaryClarity wrote:

How would leaving a little piece of skin save the man from embarassment? He's dead.  It's just going to prevent the head from tumbling onto the grassy fields and lost.  That is if such a thing were even possible.


He's also Japanese, and so are the onlookers. In Samurai culture beauty is something to be admired, achieved, and made both part of your life - and death. The harsh side of Sepekku is unavoidable - it's a test of resolve and redemption of honour - but Japanese sensibilities are sometimes a bit fussy to western eyes. Bear in mind that the act of Sepekku is not simply a suicide, a simple action (however difficult). It is also a ritual, and has spiritual aspects which even the Japanese don't often refer to. You see, the soul is inside the belly according to Japanese myth - the act of Sepekku releases the soul from the flaws of the physical body. However, the act must also be 'beautiful', and the idea of a head rolling around leaving a trail of blood was unpleasant to the Japanese, which might seem a little odd at first given their penchant for collecting heads after a battle to claim victories (and often dishonestly too) but the ritual is not a sordid battle, it's a rite of purification, thus the victim should not be allowed to cause such embarrasement and the act to be as 'perfect' as possible.
http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/
Back to Top
literaryClarity View Drop Down
Colonel
Colonel
Avatar

Joined: 02 May 2014
Location: Texas
Status: Offline
Points: 698
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote literaryClarity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2014 at 19:11
So it was something like a necessity which was in the details, not necessarily to save one from embarassment?
http://hwyst.hangzhou.com.cn/wmyzh/content/2013-10/09/content_4920423.htm
Back to Top
pinguin View Drop Down
WorldHistoria Master
WorldHistoria Master
Avatar

Joined: 29 Sep 2006
Status: Offline
Points: 15238
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2014 at 19:38
I remember to have discuss with a Chinese friend, a long time ago, about  the Japanese. The fellow though Japan was a crazy country, with ideas so weird, and that worked like machines. I bet Chinese don't have such idiotic traditions like the Japanese: a people that considers suicide as a display of honor Confused.

Edited by pinguin - 11 Oct 2014 at 19:39
A point of view from the antipodes
Back to Top
toyomotor View Drop Down
Moderator
Moderator
Avatar

Joined: 15 Feb 2014
Location: Tasmania, AUST.
Status: Offline
Points: 4805
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 2014 at 09:02
Originally posted by literaryClarity literaryClarity wrote:

So it was something like a necessity which was in the details, not necessarily to save one from embarassment?



Both. It was an act of contrition, the ultimate apology.
It's not that I was born in Ireland,
It's the Ireland that was born in me.
Back to Top
Al Jassas View Drop Down
King
King


Joined: 07 Aug 2007
Status: Offline
Points: 5000
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 2014 at 20:23
Suicide in case of shame or defeat has been with us forever from the Babylonians going through the Romans and ending with the French (Dien Bien Phu). In Japan and before it was a ritual that followed strict rules, the modern European style suicide after defeat traces its origin to after the Napoleonic wars when surrender was frowned upon and was considered treason by governments.

Calling it idiotic is not fair because it is a cultural thing that harms no one but the man committing the suicide unlike other cultural phenomena that must be justifiably condemned like patronage etc.

Al-Jassas
Back to Top
caldrail View Drop Down
Chieftain
Chieftain
Avatar

Joined: 21 Jan 2014
Location: Rushey Platt
Status: Offline
Points: 1039
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Oct 2014 at 17:13
Originally posted by literaryClarity literaryClarity wrote:

So it was something like a necessity which was in the details, not necessarily to save one from embarassment?


It was both. By the time Sepekku became an important social factor, the Japanese had evolved a complex ettiquette. Samurai weren't just well practised swordsmen, they were also expected to be artists, poets, and lovers (homosexuality was okay in medieval Japan. Women were distrusted less than a good friend on the field of battle). Samurai wore make-up into battle, and used perfume in their helmets so their heads would smell nice when it was cut off.

It may seem odd - this combination of harsh reality and appreciation of the finer things, but that's Japan for you. One Japanese source indicated that a man should meditate on the subject of death every day - not to be morbid, but to remember that life was a temporary condition, and that since a man had to die anyway at some point, then bringing simplicity, purity, beauty, or even some honourable meaning to it was important.

Take for instance Musashi - a swordsman who killed his first opponent when he was thirteen. He gave up duelling in his twenties to become a sort of weirdo teacher, having dispatched an estimated sixty opponents, yet he was also responsible for some of the most valuable period watercolor paintings in Japan.
http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/
Back to Top
literaryClarity View Drop Down
Colonel
Colonel
Avatar

Joined: 02 May 2014
Location: Texas
Status: Offline
Points: 698
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote literaryClarity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Oct 2014 at 18:09
Well I understand that theirs was a cultural system for a Zen like quality throughout life (among a whole list of things) but what I didn't understand was the act of having a piece of skin/flesh left over from the beheading to keep the head still attaching.  I am being quite technical here.  Clearly it appears to be a thing of detail for those still living, not the main character of the ceremony who is by then dead.  I mean I think it would be a far more considerate thing if that particular detail was never brought to attention as it could endanger the completion of a beheading if the stroke was not landed fully and without reserve.

On a side note.  The ceremonial act could also be thought of as a validation for the execution.  Put it this way, the Samurai were so honorable that they would not dare to punish a man with death unless he himself first took it upon himself to end his own life to avoid a lifetime of shame.  It would then justify the executioner's role in only hurrying him to his death in an obliging manner.  Of course such a system as someone put it could be corupted when used improperly ie the emperor forces you and your family to commit suicide and where the innocent are pledged along with the guilty not out of saving anyone from embarrassment but to allow the emperor peace of mind.
http://hwyst.hangzhou.com.cn/wmyzh/content/2013-10/09/content_4920423.htm
Back to Top
toyomotor View Drop Down
Moderator
Moderator
Avatar

Joined: 15 Feb 2014
Location: Tasmania, AUST.
Status: Offline
Points: 4805
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 2014 at 02:17
As another side note to the OP, reading through history, one can find numerous examples of people committing suicide rather than face shame. And it's not confined to Japan, nor is it relegated to the distant past.

While, over the years, people have chosen suicide rather than face the consequences of their actions, only the Japanese have done so by such a brutal and painful method.
It's not that I was born in Ireland,
It's the Ireland that was born in me.
Back to Top
pinguin View Drop Down
WorldHistoria Master
WorldHistoria Master
Avatar

Joined: 29 Sep 2006
Status: Offline
Points: 15238
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 2014 at 02:33
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Calling it idiotic is not fair because it is a cultural thing that harms no one but the man committing the suicide unlike other cultural phenomena that must be justifiably condemned like patronage etc.

Al-Jassas


Suicide is seen as a coward action in the West, mainly because Christian influences. Someone that commit suicide is seen as a murderer that killed himself, and murder is condemned by religion and law, and it is only accepted in self-defense. This is so much so that in some places suicide attempts can be punished by law when the person survives, of course. That is true in every place where Western Culture is dominant: Europe, North America, Australia, Latin America and other western influenced countries. However, the tradition that the captain must sunk with the ship is a weird exception to the rule.


Edited by pinguin - 14 Oct 2014 at 02:35
A point of view from the antipodes
Back to Top
toyomotor View Drop Down
Moderator
Moderator
Avatar

Joined: 15 Feb 2014
Location: Tasmania, AUST.
Status: Offline
Points: 4805
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 2014 at 03:52
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:




Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Calling it idiotic is not fair because it is a cultural thing that harms no one but the man committing the suicide unlike other cultural phenomena that must be justifiably condemned like patronage etc.

Al-Jassas


Suicide is seen as a coward action in the West, mainly because Christian influences. Someone that commit suicide is seen as a murderer that killed himself, and murder is condemned by religion and law, and it is only accepted in self-defense. This is so much so that in some places suicide attempts can be punished by law when the person survives, of course. That is true in every place where Western Culture is dominant: Europe, North America, Australia, Latin America and other western influenced countries. However, the tradition that the captain must sunk with the ship is a weird exception to the rule.




I can see what you're saying here, but there are still people in the western world who prefer suicide to shame. Yes, the Bible does make suicide a sin, but then again, the Japanese are not a Christian nation.

It's not that I was born in Ireland,
It's the Ireland that was born in me.
Back to Top
Al Jassas View Drop Down
King
King


Joined: 07 Aug 2007
Status: Offline
Points: 5000
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 2014 at 21:09
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Calling it idiotic is not fair because it is a cultural thing that harms no one but the man committing the suicide unlike other cultural phenomena that must be justifiably condemned like patronage etc.

Al-Jassas


Suicide is seen as a coward action in the West, mainly because Christian influences. Someone that commit suicide is seen as a murderer that killed himself, and murder is condemned by religion and law, and it is only accepted in self-defense. This is so much so that in some places suicide attempts can be punished by law when the person survives, of course. That is true in every place where Western Culture is dominant: Europe, North America, Australia, Latin America and other western influenced countries. However, the tradition that the captain must sunk with the ship is a weird exception to the rule.

Doubt it. "A Captain goes down with his ship" and other western attitudes in case of defeat hardly support your view that this is not a western thing. It might not be a Catholic thing but it definitely exists in the west.

Al-Jassas
Back to Top
caldrail View Drop Down
Chieftain
Chieftain
Avatar

Joined: 21 Jan 2014
Location: Rushey Platt
Status: Offline
Points: 1039
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Oct 2014 at 17:36
Quote Put it this way, the Samurai were so honorable that they would not dare to punish a man with death unless he himself first took it upon himself to end his own life to avoid a lifetime of shame.

No. Samurai would execute a man for the slightest impoliteness if they felt so enraged. That was expected - and the major reason why samurai were always so polite to each others face. In other ways they were anything but honourable, but the idea was that you were never seen to be. Of course if you were discovered doing something unforgiveable, like attacking your senior, or acting as a ninja, or whatever, then suicide was expected.

Quote Doubt it. "A Captain goes down with his ship" and other western attitudes in case of defeat hardly support your view that this is not a western thing. It might not be a Catholic thing but it definitely exists in the west.

The idea of western honourable suicide is linked to specific subcultures, particularly the military, but also to prevailing attitudes in society. Whereas a cavalry officer in the a880's might have been left with a pistol to do the decent thing, that officer would now face court martial and get into the evening news. The west does not currently support any notion of honourary suicide - that decision is down to personal desperation or sensibilities. In fact, the most observed icidents of this sort of activity result from shooting outrages, the sort of thing where some teenage nuter goes on a rampage. They almost invariably shoot themselves, because the consequences of their actions are unbearable to them. Not quite an honourable act, I agree, but related nonetheless.


Edited by caldrail - 15 Oct 2014 at 17:41
http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/
Back to Top
PeaceB View Drop Down
Housecarl
Housecarl


Joined: 27 May 2015
Status: Offline
Points: 36
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PeaceB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2015 at 05:08
Honorable sucides in East Asia are heavily influenced by skewered Neo-Confucian thoughts.
Back to Top
franciscosan View Drop Down
Tsar
Tsar


Joined: 09 Feb 2015
Location: Littleton CO
Status: Offline
Points: 3076
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2015 at 07:07
With the short sword, In! at the bottom of the stomach, Up!, to the side!, to the other side!, and if the victim is still conscious, around! making a circle, forming the rising sun.

The second, standing behind with sword raised, cuts downward onto the neck, if he does it right, he leaves a flap of skin from the head to the body, and thus the head delicately falls into the victim's lap. 

A noble woman or child, would be given a (closed) fan to place to the belly to indicate when the executioner should make the blow.

Seppuku makes it sound honorable, I like the slang, harikiri, or slice and dice.  
Dying is easy, it is living that is hard.  I agree with Chesterton, if you kill someone, you murder a man, if you kill yourself, you murder all men.  It's not self-murder, it is the rejection of everyone and everything. 
Japanese also like to jump into live volcanoes.  I don't think it has anything to do with Confucius.  I think that more often it has to do with teenage angst compounded by a romantic culture notion about making dramatic statements.
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 11.10
Copyright ©2001-2017 Web Wiz Ltd.

This page was generated in 0.063 seconds.