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Old 05-24-2009, 01:49 PM   #1
MicroBrew

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Samurai were Ainu, says American anthropologist.

There was a very interesting recent article on the origins of the Samurai. An American anthropologist studying Samurai bones concludes they resemble Ainu more than Yayoi.

From the New York Times.

Quote:
AN anthropologist has concluded that the exalted samurai, the legendary warriors who were idealized as the epitome of everything Japanese, were actually descended from the lowly Ainu, an ethnic group that is considered primitive by most Japanese and is often the target of their discrimination.

The new findings are drawing a mixed response of agreement and skepticism among American scholars and are expected to provoke spirited controversy in race-conscious Japan.

In the genealogy of Japan, as it is usually drawn, most modern Japanese, as well as the samurai, the warrior class of feudal Japan, are deemed to be descended directly from the Jomon, prehistoric inhabitants of what is now Japan. In contrast, the Ainu (pronounced EYE-new), a shrinking ethnic group in northern Japan, are traditionally regarded as ''racially different,'' stuck out on a genealogical side branch.

But after a detailed study of skeletal remains and historical documents, the anthropologist, C. Loring Brace of the University of Michigan, concluded that the lowly Ainu, not the ethnic Japanese, are the true descendants of the Jomon, and that the samurai were descended from the Ainu.

Most modern Japanese, he found, are descended mainly from the Yayoi, who migrated to the islands from Korea and China about 300 B.C., introducing intensive rice agriculture and largely supplanting the Jomon. Light Skin and Europeanlike Noses

''I knew after my first shot at it that the prehistoric Japanese, the Jomon, just don't look like modern Japanese,'' Dr. Brace said in a telephone interview. ''They do look remarkably like modern Ainu.''

But Dr. Brace's most startling conclusion, and the one likely to upset traditionalists, was that most of the samurai were not really ethnic Japanese but descendants of the Ainu.

Like the Ainu, the samurai had more body hair, lighter skin and higher-bridged, Europeanlike noses than most Japanese. Indeed, nearly all of the physical characteristics of the samurai, celebrated in art and held high in social esteem, are those that closely resemble the facial features of the 18,000 Ainu who live on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Dr. Brace said this interpretation also explains why the facial features of the Japanese ruling class are often so unlike those of typical modern Japanese. The Ainu-related samurai achieved such power and prestige in medieval Japan that they intermarried with royalty and nobility, passing on Jomon-Ainu blood in the upper classes, while other Japanese were primarily descended from the Yayoi.

Likewise, this would account for the ''un-Japanese'' appearance of the Kabuki actors, courtesans and samurai portrayed in paintings and on silkscreens. The people in this highly stylized art are invariably shown with the elevated nose, the slight swelling at the center of the brow, the pointed chin and flat cheeks that set the Ainu apart from typical Japanese.

Dr. Brace, writing in a recent issue of The American Journal of Physical Anthropology, said, ''There is more than a little irony in this whole picture: where the Ainu, so looked down upon in the traditional Japanese conception of the social spectrum, have had a genetic effect on the ruling classes of Japan that would be completely unexpected for a conquered and despised people presumed to have been exterminated.''

The proposed revisions in Japanese genealogy were based on a study of 34 features of the skulls and teeth of more than 1,100 skeletons of Japanese, Ainu and other Asian ethnic groups. The samurai skeletons analyzed were from victims of the Battle of Kamakura in the summer of 1333. The skulls, Dr. Brace said, consistently bore a strong likeness to the Ainu-Jomon characteristics.

Historical accounts furnish a possible explanation how some descendants of the Ainu came to be the celebrated warriors.

Dr. Brace and his co-authors, M. L. Brace and W. R. Leonard, said that when the emperor in Kyoto wanted to subdue unruly inhabitants on the eastern frontier, the area around present-day Tokyo, generals usually recruited armies from the very residents meant to be controlled, the Ainu. This practice had gone on for nearly two centuries, and these recruited warriors became the revered samurai, sword-wielding knights in armor whose exploits led to six centuries of military rule in Japan. Theory Is Disputed

''Because of the course of history and the regional shifts of power that occurred as the feudal system emerged in medieval Japan,'' Dr. Brace wrote, ''the genetic characteristics derived from the Jomon-Ainu continuum came to constitute a significant part of the biological makeup of the dominant military class.''

But Hisashi Suzuki, a retired professor of anthropology at the University of Tokyo, has denied that the fallen samurai of Kamakura, and thus succeeding generations of ruling classes, could be Ainu. Dr. Suzuki, reflecting the established view of Japanese anthropology, said that, despite some Ainu traits, the samurai physical characteristics were merely a local variant of modern Japanese features.

Dr. Brace said that other Japanese reaction to his ideas had been muted so far. ''Dealing with the Japanese is difficult,'' he said. ''They don't tell you to your face that they disagree with you. I did have one anthropologist come up to me and politely say, 'I hope you are wrong.' '' Centuries of Mixing Seen

William W. Howells, emeritus professor of anthropology at Harvard University, said the Ainu-samurai connection was ''a pretty good theory, but I don't think it's proven yet.''

Edwin O. Reischauer, a Harvard authority on Japanese history and culture, who was an American Ambassador to Tokyo, said he had ''very strong reservations about the theory.''

''The early samurai came mostly from areas that had been inhabited by Ainu,'' Dr. Reischauer said, ''but there had been a mixing of people for several hundred years.''

In fact, Dr. Reischauer said, the ''great variety of facial types'' in Japan testified to the absorption of the Ainu and other people into the ''Japanese bloodstream.'' The mixing, he said, was not limited to any one social group. Caucasian Link Rejected

As Dr. Brace acknowledged, the Ainu genetic legacy is widespread and accounts for the relative abundance of facial and body hair of many Japanese, in contrast to the Chinese and other Mongoloid people.

These differences in the Ainu, as well as their lighter skin color, gave rise to a belief that they could well be related to Caucasians. In some histories, the Ainu are described as proto-Caucasoid people, a group that split off from the white race so early that not all the characteristics of the race had yet developed.

But Dr. Brace said the analysis of ancient and modern Ainu skeletons did not support such a relationship. The study did show that their presumed ancestors, the Jomon, however, shared some intriguing physicial similarities, perhaps because of common origins, to the people of Polynesia and Micronesia.

drawings
http://www.nytimes.com/1989/06/06/sc...pagewanted=all

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Quote:
The Samurai And The Ainu

Findings by American anthropologist C. Loring Brace, University of Michigan, will surely be controversial in race conscious Japan. The eye of the predicted storm will be the Ainu, a "racially different" group of some 18,000 people now living on the northern island of Hokkaido. Pure-blooded Ainu are easy to spot: they have lighter skin, more body hair, and higher-bridged noses than most Japanese. Most Japanese tend to look down on the Ainu.

Brace has studied the skeletons of about 1,100 Japanese, Ainu, and other Asian ethnic groups and has concluded that the revered samurai of Japan are actually descendants of the Ainu, not of the Yayoi from whom most modern Japanese are descended. In fact, Brace threw more fuel on the fire with:

"Dr. Brace said this interpretation also explains why the facial features of the Japanese ruling class are so often unlike those of typical modern Japanese. The Ainu-related samurai achieved such power and prestige in medieval Japan that they intermarried with royality and nobility, passing on Jomon-Ainu blood in the upper classes, while other Japanese were primarily descended from the Yoyoi."

The reactions of Japanese scientists have been muted so. One Japanese anthropologist did say to Brace," I hope you are wrong."
I first found this info on JREF (Japan Reference forum)

http://www.jref.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-9053.html

Link to the article
http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf065/sf065a01.htm

-----------------------------


PBS short description on C Loring Brace, the anthropologist
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/first/brace.html

About C Loring Brace from Minnesota state Uni
http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/informat..._c_loring.html

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Old 05-24-2009, 01:55 PM   #2
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AINU I remember reading about these western looking japanese long time ago.

good read.

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Old 05-24-2009, 02:15 PM   #3
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Wow makes you think, really surprised to read this.

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Old 05-24-2009, 02:20 PM   #4
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All asians look alike anyway.

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Old 05-24-2009, 02:28 PM   #5
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Awesome, so the Samurai were white people!!

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Old 05-24-2009, 02:46 PM   #6
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tl/dr but lol white people just want to be a samurai. Too bad tom cruise was the last...




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Old 05-24-2009, 03:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ahcshon View Post
tl/dr but lol white people just want to be a samurai. Too bad tom cruise was the last...



Maybe he was actually the first!!

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Old 05-24-2009, 03:32 PM   #8
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Its just so ironic. We all ridiculed the bullshit when people claimed that the samurai were black, now science comes right out and tells us they were actually white.

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Old 05-24-2009, 03:35 PM   #9
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hahaha they're not really white; more like typical of central asia where people are a bit more mixed. it would be fun to troll some japanese forums with this news but alas i'm too lazy.

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Old 05-24-2009, 03:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by JSN View Post
hahaha they're not really white; more like typical of central asia where people are a bit more mixed. it would be fun to troll some japanese forums with this news but alas i'm too lazy.
They were white!!!

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