Tuesday, 10 September 2013

DYNASTY

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Dynasty
Format: An unreleased concept album

#5: From the Vaults of W.A.R.

A brief entry today, but one of interest nonetheless.  The cover you see above was for a planned concept release that Hugin had in mind for Uruk Hai, involving the history of the samurai (and not - thankfully - the Carrington family of Denver...!)  The idea had come to him after the release of another themed album, that being "Tawantinsuyu" from 2006, but sadly the project never developed beyond the proposed cover artwork.

Although not greatly advanced, the core of the idea was to cover the history of the samurai from the beginning until the early 1900s.  Hugin notes that whilst this may not now appear as an Uruk Hai project, the idea is still on the back-burner, possibly for another project....

Nazgul's knowledge of the samurai is fairly limited: Samurai were essentially the military nobility of medieval and early-modern Japan, and the word was closely associated with the middle and upper echelons of the warrior class. While the samurai numbered less than 10% of Japan's population, their teachings can still be found today in both everyday life and in modern Japanese martial arts.  Samurai warriors described themselves as followers of "The Way of the Warrior" or Bushidō, defined as "a unique philosophy that spread through the warrior class from the Muromachi period. From the earliest times, the samurai felt that the path of the warrior was one of honour, emphasising duty to one's master, and loyalty unto death".

One of the more interesting facts about the samurai was that it took until 1873 to abolish the law enabling them to execute any commoner who had shown them disrespect - a tradition kept alive and well at Castle Nazgul, it should be noted.

Japanese swords are the weapons that have come to be synonymous with the samurai, and indeed one appears front and centre on the artwork for the cover of this project.  Ancient Japanese swords from the Nara period (Chokutō) featured a straight blade, by the late 900s curved tachi appeared, followed by the uchigatana and ultimately the katana (wearing a katana in public was also outlawed in the 1870s). Smaller swords (commonly known as companion swords) were the wakizashi and the tantō. Wearing a long sword together with a smaller sword became the symbol of the samurai, this combination of swords was referred to as a daishō (literally "big and small"). 

It transpires that Hugin has a small collection of such swords at W.A.R. so keep your eyes peeled: you never know when they might appear on a forthcoming release....

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