The Tokugawa were a powerful military family in medieval Japan whose members held power and ruled as Shoguns from 1603-1867.
The origins of the clan remain unclear. But under Tokugawa rule society was legitimized with Confucian hierarchical ideals. Social classes were ranked by status with warriors holding the highest position, followed by farmers, then workers and, last, merchants.
This is an interesting variant to the Hindu caste system, where the castes originated from a ritually dismembered Primal Cosmic Man, emerging in a different status order than in medieval Japan.
The highest, fair-skinned Brahman caste (priests, thinkers) emanated from the head, the lower and darker Kshatriya caste (rajas, warriors, persons of action) from the arms, while the next lower and darker Vaisna caste (merchants) originated from the thighs.
Later, the additional fourth, lowest and darkest Sudra caste (servants) was added, believed to be the “feet” of the purusa.¹
In recent times, the Shoguns and Samurai have taken a whole new mythic life with movies, TV, anime, and gaming.
On the Web:
- “This documentary of Tokugawa Ieyasu was made using real pictures of the actual Samurai involved, and their Crests, set to The Lonely Shepard. There was one factual error in the movie, that of course beeing that Oda Nobunaga was not from peasant stock as implied, but that subtitle had been meant Hideyoshi, Toyotomi. Enjoy” (StaggerLeee)