Definitions

Seppuku meaning/Seppuku and Hara-kiri

Seppuku is the name of a traditional Japanese ritual of suicide , practiced mainly by warriors and samurai. Seppuku is part of the Japanese samurai code of honor, called Bushido . It consisted of the only alternative to maintain the samurai’s honor , in case he was captured by enemies or as a sign of extreme loyalty to his master. Seppuku meaning

The samurai were known to have only one master in their entire lives. If the latter died, truly loyal warriors should commit seppuku.

If the samurai did not perform seppuku, he became a ronin, a kind of “masterless warrior”, considered one of the most dishonorable titles for a person.

In the Japanese language, seppuku literally means “cut to the belly” or “cut to the stomach”, a direct reference to how this type of suicide was carried out.

Originally, seppuku emerged in Japan in the mid-12th century as a demonstration of warriors’ loyalty to their feudal lords.  Seppuku meaning

For centuries, until 1868, seppuku remained an official practice among Japanese warriors.

The seppuku ceremony required a series of specific steps and preparations, which the samurai had to follow in advance.

After purifying the body and writing a last poem, for example, the samurai was supposed to pierce the abdomen with a small sword ( wakizashi ), slashing the belly from left to right. When the cut reached the center of the cup, the warrior made a sharp upward thrust.

With this act, the samurai believed that they were cutting into the center of their souls, the place where people’s emotions and spirits were concentrated.

Evisceration (ripping out the viscera from the body through the abdomen) is a very painful form of execution and the samurai could spend hours in agony before dying.  Seppuku meaning

For this reason, the figure of the kaishakunin (known as the “executioner” or “the second”) was essential, as he was responsible for ending the suffering of the suicide with a fatal blow to the neck.

Supposedly, the first seppuku was made by the legendary warrior Minamoto Tametomo, in 1170. This samurai of the Minamoto clan would have thrown himself at his own sword after losing a battle against the Taira clan.

Seppuku and Harakiri

The main difference is the context in which each expression is used: seppuku is the formal and honorable way of mentioning this type of suicide, while harakiri (or haraquíri) is the term popularly used.

Westerners also often refer to the Japanese suicide ritual as harakiri, unlike Easterners who often use the word seppuku in this context.  Seppuku meaning

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