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THE LAST SAMURAI; Evocative collection of pictures captures the final flourishes of Japan's legendary warrior elite.

IIF we've not experienced redundancy personally, then most of us know someone who has. It's devastating, I know because I've been there.

For most of us, it's just a job that is lost, which I know can be bad enough. But take a look at the photograph of the young armourclad Japanese man to the right. The portrait, taken by the Japanese photographer Suzuki Shin'ichi I in Yokohama in the mid-1870s, shows a samurai whose entire reason for being is about to end.

He glances wistfully into the distance, no doubt contemplating the fact that the role he had trained and prepared for since childhood is about to be rendered obsolete. He is about to lose everything: his status in society, his income, his home, even his armour and clothes, which were about to be made illegal to wear or retain.

Now contrast it with the picture of the beggar-like character. The portrait of a masterless samurai, or ronin (drifter or wanderer), by Shimooka Renjo (1823-1914) himself born into a family of low-ranking samurai, illustrates the fate of many as the new Japanese government stripped them of their privileges.

Some adopted professions they had been taught to despise such as metalworking and ivory carving, while others eked out a vagabond existence on the edge of society, offering their swords for hire.

The two portraits come from a group of 40 rare photographs to be exhibited at The London Photograph Fair this week by Daniella Dangoor, a now-retired dealer who has decided to sell her own personal collection.

Mostly albumen prints from wet collodion negatives, the photographs by Nadar, Shimooka, Suzuki, Disderi, Beato and others are to be offered as a whole, with the price, revealed only on application, but understood to be in five-figures.

n r According to Ms Dangoor, most photographs purporting to be of samurai were in fact taken well after 1877, after the samurai system had been abolished. Actors or studio assistants dressed up in samurai clothes and armour, for the benefit of the tourist trade.

Her photographs are genuine samurai, Japan's images of n's military n 1860 and n researched astian rld's leading otographs nobility, taken between 1877 and each has been and catalogued by Sebastian Dobson, one of the world's authorities on early photographs of the country.

known iod t to he Several are the only examples. They date from a period when Japan underwent massive change. Prior 1853, the Dutch were the only Westerners permitted to trade with Japan. However, in 1853 and acting on behalf of government, Commodore Matthew Perry sailed h3 f the US ore his gunboats into Tokyo harbour to force Japan open trade. Russia, Britain, France, and Holland all followed Japan finally agreed sign trading treaties opened up the country the West.

gun har to o Brit Hol and to sig that o try to At th ruled weak a emper that time Japan was on behalf of the and powerless emperor by the shogun, (general), from the Tokugawa Shogunate (family). He replaced opposing feudal lords with his relatives and allies who ruled their respective feudal domains (han) with few restrictions.

The samurai were the warrior class, and had been the de facto rulers of Japan since the 12th century. Each of them cultured individuals equally skilled in fighting and learning, they were universally feared. They were trained, organised and commanded from within the respective domains by a lord daimyo (literally big name) of which there were around 300 across the country. A caste of bureaucrats, recruited from the daimyo and samurai class, provided the staff for the shogunal version of a civil service. A samurai's power was dependent on the rank into which he was born. Social mobility was limited, if not frowned upon.

Mid-ranking samurai held bureaucratic positions with less frequent access to their lord, while low-ranking samurai received a subsistence-level wage and functioned as guards and messengers.

However, while the installation of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1603 had enshrined the samurai's lofty staus, the ensuing 250-odd years of peace had softened them up.

Military training became less practical and more ritualised and although many pursued careers in their respective shogunates as administrators, officials and scholars, the under-employed warriors entered a period of decadence.

The opening of trade with Japan brought foreign currency flooding into the country, disrupting its monetary system, and led to civil war in 1867-69. The shogun was overthrown in 1868 to be replaced with a new centralised government with Emperor Meiji (1867-1912) as its symbolic head.

He abolished the samurai class, replacing the warriors with a conscripted Western-style army. While some Samurai volunteered to serve in the new army, many fell between the cracks, living a marginal existence as ronin supporting themselves as mercenaries or bodyguards or through gambling, banditry and other criminal activity.

FACT FILE ron | DANIELLA DANGMOOR'S exhibition, titled appropriately The Last Samurai, can be seen at the London Photograph Fair Special Edition on May 19-20.

-0. at t des s The fair, at the Great Hall, King's College, adjacent to Somerset House, which coincides with Photo London, is the only established fair devoted to vintage photography in the UK.

ge UK


Left to right: Kubota Sentaro in Armour Wielding a Sword by Felice Beato, circa 1864; a hand-coloured print by Felice Beato titled Kubota Sentaro in Armour with Retainers, taken in Yokohama circa 1864; Portrait of a Masterless Samurai by Shimooka Renjo illustrating the fate of many samurai as the new government stripped them of their status and privileges, leaving them to eke out a vagabond existence as hired swords LSb RMfa the

A Samurai Commander, circa 1870s. The horns and moon on his helmet suggest a senior ranking samurai
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:May 19, 2018
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