The samurai (also bushi) were a class of warriors that arose in the 10th century in Japan and which performed military service until the 19th century. Elite and highly-trained soldiers adept at using both the bow and sword, the samurai were an essential component of Japanese armies in the medieval period.

Samurai and samurai culture may have been excessively romanticised since the 18th century as the epitome of chivalry and honour but there are many examples of them displaying great courage and loyalty to their masters, in particular, even committing ritual suicide in the event of the defeat or death of their lord. Warfare in medieval Japan was, though, as bloody and as uncompromising as it was in any other region and money was often the prime motive for many samurai to participate in battle. From the 17th century, and no longer needed in a military capacity, samurai often became important moral teachers and advisors within the community.

  • Dimensions: 6 cm x 2 cm
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