seppuku


seppuku
/se pooh"koo/, n.
hara-kiri (def. 1).
[1900-05; < Japn, earlier s(y)et-puku < MChin, equiv. to Chin qiè cut + belly]

* * *

Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment, practiced by members of the samurai class.

Suicide by disembowelment was favoured because it was slow and painful and therefore demonstrated courage, self-control, and strong resolve. Voluntary seppuku was performed to avoid the dishonour of capture, show loyalty to one's lord by following him into death, protest against some policy of a superior, or atone for failure. Obligatory seppuku was a method of capital punishment for a samurai, who would be beheaded by a second once he had made an initial stab wound himself. Obligatory seppuku was abolished in 1873, but voluntary seppuku continued to occur. Notable 20th-century examples included those of army officer Nogi Maresuke and writer Yukio Mishima. See also bushidō.

* * *

(Japanese: “self-disembowelment”), also called  Hara-kiri 

      (“belly-cutting”), the honourable method of taking one's own life practiced by men of the samurai (military) class in feudal Japan. The word hara-kiri, though widely known to foreigners, is rarely used by Japanese, who prefer the term seppuku (consisting of the same two Chinese characters in reverse order). The proper method was to plunge a short sword into the left side of the abdomen, draw the blade across to the right, and then turn it upward. It was considered exemplary form to stab again below the chest and press downward across the first cut, and then to pierce one's throat. Being an extremely painful and slow means of suicide, it was favoured as an effective way to demonstrate the courage, self-control, and strong resolve of the samurai and to prove sincerity of purpose.

      There were two kinds of seppuku: voluntary and obligatory. Voluntary seppuku evolved during the wars of the 12th century as a method of suicide used frequently by warriors who, defeated in battle, chose to avoid the dishonour of falling into the hands of the enemy. Occasionally, a samurai performed seppuku to demonstrate loyalty to his lord by following him in death, to protest against some policy of a superior or of the government, or to atone for failure in his duties. There have been numerous instances of voluntary seppuku in modern Japan.

      Obligatory seppuku refers to the method of capital punishment for samurai to spare them the disgrace of being beheaded by a common executioner. This practice was prevalent from the 15th century until 1873, when it was abolished. Great emphasis was placed on proper performance of the ceremony. The ritual was usually carried out in the presence of a witness (kenshi) sent by the authority issuing the death sentence. The prisoner was usually seated on two tatami mats, and behind him stood a second (kaishakunin), usually a relative or friend, with sword drawn. A small table bearing a short sword was placed in front of the prisoner. A moment after he stabbed himself, the second struck off his head. It was also common practice for the second to decapitate him at the moment that he reached out to grasp the short sword, his gesture symbolizing that the death was by seppuku.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Seppuku — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Para otros usos de este término, véase Seppuku (desambiguación). Grabado del general Akashi Gidayu escribiendo su poema de despedida llamado yuigon o zep …   Wikipedia Español

  • Seppuku — Zeremonie am Ende der Edo Zeit Aus: Sketches of Japanese Manners and Customs. London, 1867 Seppuku (jap. 切腹) bezeichnet eine ritualisierte Art des männlichen Suizids, die etwa ab der Mitte des 12. Jahrhunderts in Japan innerhalb der Schicht der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • seppuku — [ sepuku ] n. m. • attesté mil. XXe; mot jap. ♦ Didact. Suicide rituel, au Japon. ⇒ hara kiri. ● seppuku nom masculin (japonais seppuku) Synonyme de hara kiri. ● seppuku (synonymes) nom masculin ( …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • seppuku — SEPPÚKU s. harachiri. (Şi a făcut seppuku.) Trimis de siveco, 05.08.2004. Sursa: Sinonime  SEPPUKÚ s. n. harachiri. (< germ. Seppuku) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa: MDN …   Dicționar Român

  • Seppuku — Sep*pu ku, n. Same as {Hara kiri}. [1913 Webster] Seppuku, or hara kiri, also came into vogue. W. E. Griffis. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Seppuku — (chin., »Bauchaufschneiden«), s. Harakiri …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Seppuku — Seppuku, der chines. Ausdruck für Harakiri (s.d.) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • seppuku — s. giapp. (propr. taglio del ventre con un coltello ), usato in ital. al masch., invar. [suicidio rituale giapponese] ▶◀ harakiri …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • seppuku — {{/stl 13}}{{stl 8}}rz. n, ndm, {{/stl 8}}{{stl 7}}to samo co harakiri. <jap.> {{/stl 7}} …   Langenscheidt Polski wyjaśnień

  • seppuku — [se po͞o′ko͞o] n. [Jpn < SinoJpn setsu, cut + huku, belly] HARA KIRI …   English World dictionary

  • Seppuku — Hara kiri and Harakiri redirect here. For other uses, see Harakiri (disambiguation). Illustration from Sketches of Japanese Manners and Customs , by J. M. W. Silver, Illustrated by Native Drawings, Reproduced in Facsimile by Means of… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.