Nobunaga and China…

Something that’s been… bothering me for a while, especially after the post on crests.

I’m probably running on conspiracy theories here, but as much as I find Nobunaga interesting and admirable, I also think he’s far more arrogant and ambitious than some other Nobu apologists would claim.

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Nobutada, Nobukatsu, and Nobutaka’s symbols

First, you have the Oda clan crest. No need to repeat that.

These are Nobutada’s:

Ignore the fact that the butterfly there is straight-out the Taira butterfly. It’s only for the Taira clan association. It was never known whether Nobutada or any of Nobunaga’s other sons wore the Oda butterfly or not.

He has no personal crest. Everything on there already discussed in the Nobunaga one here.

… I am not sure why the “emptiness” is there too, but I’m convinced that the imperial seals come from him inheriting a lot of his father’s ranks. When Nobunaga resigned from his position as Minister of the Right, he attempted to get the emperor to transfer it to his son Nobutada, but it wasn’t clear if the emperor ever approved of it or not.

These are Nobukatsu’s:

See above for the Taira butterfly.

… The one on the right is the sasa-rindou (bamboo leaves and gentian flowers) crest, the crest of the Kitabatake family. Nobukatsu was adopted into that family when he was 12 after Nobunaga subjugated them. They were offshoots of the Minamoto clan, and  shares the same crest. I cannot find whether they have their own personal crest or not.

Look, he has the crests of enemy clans! Isn’t he special? (To anyone who doesn’t know, the Taira and Minamoto are sworn enemies. For further info, look up Genpei war)

And then Nobutaka’s:

The butterfly is there twice because the Kanbe family, the one Nobutaka was adopted into, also wears a butterfly crest.

I cannot find the details about that adoption, but… it’s beside the point right now. Nobutaka really has so little info on him compared to his two brothers, and they both already have so little on them too.

All the crests/symbols associated with Nobunaga.

1. The Oda clan crest
What it says on the tin.

2) “Tenka Fubu” seal
The words mean “The world united (by) military force”. There are two version known: one with the rather basic circle, and the other encircled by two dragons. At this time Nobunaga seems to start picking up ideas from China because around the same time he named his new castle “Gifu” (岐阜). The gi 岐 comes from the Chinese mountain 岐山 Qíshān, where the capital of Zhou Dynasty used to be. The fu 阜comes from fù, the birthplace of Confucius, who was also living in the Zhou Dynasty.

I will discuss Confucius later, because this is rather mind-boggling. But look at the dragon seal. That looks more Chinese than Japanese. I have to say I’m rather ambivalent about the dragon one, because it could be an embellished seal NOT from Nobunaga’s era. So far I haven’t found anything saying that it’s a modern invention, though, so let’s just accept it as true for now.

3) 16-petal Chrysanthemum
The… imperial seal? To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what this is doing here. I know Nobunaga once held office as Minister of the Right, which is an imperial position, but… the crest of the emeperor??? I wasn’t aware anyone else are allowed to use this crest. Need to look this up some more.

4) Circle with two stripes
The Ashikaga crest. Ashikaga Yoshiaki became shogun with Nobunaga’s help. I’m… not so clear on why this was listed here either.

5) Go-san no kiri
"Paulownia crest with three and five flowers". Either received from shogun Yoshiaki because the above reasons or from the emperor because of the Minister position. This is a seal signifying high rank in imperial office.

Also, even though it looks similar this is different from the one normally seen associated with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, which is the shichi-go no kiri (paulownia with seven and five flowers).

6) “Eiroku" coin crest
Chinese coin with the words 永乐通宝 (Yǒnglè tōngbǎo/Eiraku tsūhō/”Reign of Yong Le”) printed on it. Yong Le was the third Ming emperor. This Chinese coin was imported in huge numbers to Japan sometime in the Muromachi period, and then spread like wildfire.

7) “The Oda butterfly”
Yes, that is what that thing is called. Styled after the swallowtail butterfly (揚羽蝶/agehachou) crest of the Taira clan:

Nobunaga at some point claimed to have descended from the Taira clan by way of Taira no Chikazane.

8) “Mu” (emptiness/nothing)
A zen Buddhism concept of nothingness. There’s also dispute about what in the world is this supposed to mean. One theory says that it’s actually saying “There is none greater than I am” or “There are no enemy that could match me”. The other one goes the complete opposite, tying to Nobunaga’s favourite Atsumori verse “Is there no living being that ultimately perishes?”. An acceptance that everything will come to an end eventually. Which makes sense, considering that upon hearing that it was Akechi who rebelled at Honnou-ji, his reaction was simply: “Well, that was that.”


9) "Signature" (kao)
All the different signatures Nobunaga used through the years. They were stylized pictures or words. If Google translate didn’t fail me, one of them is actually a picture of a turtle.

The one in the yellow square is a stylized version of Nobunaga’s name (信長).

The Oda family have a pedigree of beautiful men and women

(Online translation of a Japanese Wiki entry)

Either the translator is epic fail or someone actually believed that hard enough to put that in the Wiki.

… Well, the ones “proven” to be true by contemporary records were Nobunaga and his sister Oichi and Oinu. Can’t vouch for the rest of the family. But still.

The heck, Wiki?

From a Nobunaga biography manga.
Baby Nobu is a nasty little devil who runs around destroying everything his little hands and feet can touch.

From a Nobunaga biography manga.

Baby Nobu is a nasty little devil who runs around destroying everything his little hands and feet can touch.

daeva-agas:

Standing alarm clock; verge escapement with foliot, weight-driven, two-wheel train; revolving dial with fixed pointer at the top and with moveable pin for releasing the alarum at the chosen hour; the alarum cannot be set for any point within the hours. TRAIN-COUNT. Great wheel 120 teeth with a pinion of report of 6 driving a dial wheel of 72. Crown wheel 35 teeth pinion 6.
(from the British Museum)

Luis Frois and the other Portuguese missionaries gave Nobunaga something similar to this. Nobunaga then sent the clock back, saying he has no need for it.
Considering that Japanese people at the time uses the zodiac hours, counted by DAYLIGHT*, mind you, of course this has no use for anyone. The ringing would probably cause an annoyance instead… (maybe it suddenly rang in the dead of the night and the retainers started flailing around because of it)
*) During winter, when daylight is shorter, they would modify whatever time-keeping device they use to follow the sun’s movement. So in winter you have shorter work hours, woo~

daeva-agas:

Standing alarm clock; verge escapement with foliot, weight-driven, two-wheel train; revolving dial with fixed pointer at the top and with moveable pin for releasing the alarum at the chosen hour; the alarum cannot be set for any point within the hours. TRAIN-COUNT. Great wheel 120 teeth with a pinion of report of 6 driving a dial wheel of 72. Crown wheel 35 teeth pinion 6.

Luis Frois and the other Portuguese missionaries gave Nobunaga something similar to this. Nobunaga then sent the clock back, saying he has no need for it.

Considering that Japanese people at the time uses the zodiac hours, counted by DAYLIGHT*, mind you, of course this has no use for anyone. The ringing would probably cause an annoyance instead… (maybe it suddenly rang in the dead of the night and the retainers started flailing around because of it)

*) During winter, when daylight is shorter, they would modify whatever time-keeping device they use to follow the sun’s movement. So in winter you have shorter work hours, woo~

The clan’s crest and flower language

odaclan:

This is the crest of the Oda family.

imageimage


It is meant to be an artsy stylized version of the quince.

This is the quince:

image

In flower language, this flower means “Temptation”.

(I’m kinda imagining the clan’s ancestors being all “I’m sexy and I know it” now)

I have now discovered the JAPANESE meaning for this flower.

It’s “commonplace, ordinary” and “moron”.

The moron part probably fits Nobunaga back when he’s known as Owari no Ooutsuke, the Fool of Owari XD

Not so much history as, well, just literature.

Historical FICTION books on Nobunaga’s sons. The one on the left is Nobutada. The full title is “Oda Nobutada - My father Nobunaga”. The left is Nobuo (read Nobukatsu here). Full title is “Oda Nobukatsu - Honouring my mad father”, and then there’s this… sub-subtitle? It says “A god or a demon, my father’s name is Nobunaga”.

Because the sons are like just appendices of Nobunaga, really. I don’t want to over-glorify Nobunaga, but… when he took control, he pretty much became the heart and soul of the clan. After Honno-ji, the Oda pretty much dissolved. Nobody took over the control of the clan properly and then Hideyoshi rose to power and nobody could do jack to oppose him.

Sanboushi, Nobutada’s son, was just a doll Hideyoshi used to secure his position of power. Nobuo and Nobutaka with their allies couldn’t stand up against Hideyoshi. Maybe if the brothers had worked together instead of splitting off on their own they could have brought down Hideyoshi. Tokugawa’s troop has a bonus of the ninjas as backup and Shibata’s troop is also a tough bunch, plus their many other allies that I can’t remember so… yeah. I don’t understand why people do what they do.

I would love to get my hands on these books and then learn Jpanaese to read them just because I’m itching for information on them. Even if this is fiction, I’m sure there’d be a bibliography somewhere so I can check.

I took a look at Shinchouko-ki, supposedly the best Nobunaga biography you could ever get, and I still got nothing much on the boys. They participate in wars, they join Nobunaga’s Kyoto cavalcade, they have living quarters in Azuchi… and nothing more.

I’m sure there’d be better sources out there in Japan, but I can’t read Japanese, which is a bummer.

In the year 1581, Nobunaga had a grand cavalcade as… well, officially it’s some sort of victory parade, but it’s kind of obvious that he just wants to show off. ALL his commanders and generals and high-ranking officials were there (which includes his sons, brothers, and uncles). 
This is what he wore to the event. Well, my best approximation of what it looks like anyway, based on the description found in Shinchou-ko ki. And I quote:
"Nobunaga’s chaps were embroidered with speckles like a tiger’s on a gold background"
[…]
"Nobunaga’s headdress was a Chinese cap of dignity. Flowers were stuck in the back. It was just like the costume of the lead actor in the Noh play Takasago. 'As I break a bough off a plum tree and fasten it in my hair/ The springtime snow falls on my garments.' Surely that was the intended meaning.
The lined silk garment that Nobunaga wore next to his skin was plum red, shading off gradually into white with a paulownia and arabesque design. On top of it he wore another lined silk garment, one made of Shu Chiang brocade. Its cuffs were ornamented with trimmings of twisted gold thread. Nobunaga had used one of three rolls of this brocade that had been brought over from the continent to our empire in the old days. It was a present from Nagaoka Yoichiro, who had found it in Kyoto after an extensive search. Treasures old and new flowed to Nobunaga, a sign of his unutterable renown.
 His stiff sleeveless robe was made of crimson damask with a paulownia and arabesque design, as were his formal trousers. To his waist he had affixed imitation peonies, reportedly a present from His Imperial Majesty. His girdle was made of yak tail hair. His great sword had a gold-encrusted sheath, while the sheath of his auxiliary sword had a wrap-around design and was encrusted with gold. He carried a whip at his side along with his gloves, which were made of untanned chamois leather and ornamented with the paulownia flower crest. His footwear was of scarlet cloth, and its upper parts were made of Chinese brocade.”  
(The Chronicles of  Lord Nobunaga, by Ota Gyuichi, translated by Elisonas and Lamers)
The overlord made sure his relatives were dressed in clothes made from the same materials and because THEY wear those clothes, the other officers don’t want to lose and wear clothes made of similarly-fashioned fabrics. It’s a wonder the audience didn’t go blind from all the gold everyone’s wearing.

In the year 1581, Nobunaga had a grand cavalcade as… well, officially it’s some sort of victory parade, but it’s kind of obvious that he just wants to show off. ALL his commanders and generals and high-ranking officials were there (which includes his sons, brothers, and uncles). 

This is what he wore to the event. Well, my best approximation of what it looks like anyway, based on the description found in Shinchou-ko ki. And I quote:

"Nobunaga’s chaps were embroidered with speckles like a tiger’s on a gold background"

[…]

"Nobunaga’s headdress was a Chinese cap of dignity. Flowers were stuck in the back. It was just like the costume of the lead actor in the Noh play Takasago. 'As I break a bough off a plum tree and fasten it in my hair/ The springtime snow falls on my garments.' Surely that was the intended meaning.

The lined silk garment that Nobunaga wore next to his skin was plum red, shading off gradually into white with a paulownia and arabesque design. On top of it he wore another lined silk garment, one made of Shu Chiang brocade. Its cuffs were ornamented with trimmings of twisted gold thread. Nobunaga had used one of three rolls of this brocade that had been brought over from the continent to our empire in the old days. It was a present from Nagaoka Yoichiro, who had found it in Kyoto after an extensive search. Treasures old and new flowed to Nobunaga, a sign of his unutterable renown.

 His stiff sleeveless robe was made of crimson damask with a paulownia and arabesque design, as were his formal trousers. To his waist he had affixed imitation peonies, reportedly a present from His Imperial Majesty. His girdle was made of yak tail hair. His great sword had a gold-encrusted sheath, while the sheath of his auxiliary sword had a wrap-around design and was encrusted with gold. He carried a whip at his side along with his gloves, which were made of untanned chamois leather and ornamented with the paulownia flower crest. His footwear was of scarlet cloth, and its upper parts were made of Chinese brocade.”  

(The Chronicles of  Lord Nobunaga, by Ota Gyuichi, translated by Elisonas and Lamers)

The overlord made sure his relatives were dressed in clothes made from the same materials and because THEY wear those clothes, the other officers don’t want to lose and wear clothes made of similarly-fashioned fabrics. It’s a wonder the audience didn’t go blind from all the gold everyone’s wearing.

Word has it that Nobuo was baptized somewhere between 1588-1589.
Many people say that this is dubious because there’s no reason for him to be doing this. Back in those days many people got baptized or became open to the Christians to curry favour with Nobunaga, who was a supporter of the Christians, and to the other Europeans to get guns and stuff. They all dropped the religion like a hot potato once Nobunaga died, especially because Hideyoshi was anti-Christian and all that, so it’s really not beneficial for Nobuo to be doing this.
Considering he temporarily ran off to be a monk later, I doubt that he honestly believed in God or anything. Maybe he was in bad terms with Hideyoshi already by then and got himself baptized out of spite. I mean, his father Nobunaga only supported the Christians because they piss off the monks that he didn’t like and for the weird stuff they brought. Wouldn’t put it past his sons to become “Christian” just for the lulz.
Nobuo’s Christian name is Johan, or John. Which is funny because John was the last of Jesus’s twelve apostles to die. Nobuo was the one who lasted the longest among Nobunaga’s sons (if you don’t count the illegitimate son whose existence is seriously debatable anyway). 
 On that note…  One of his brothers, Nobuhide, was Christian too (baptized name Peter). That is one of the sons who just exist and not really show up much in English sources other than “he is Nobunaga’s son” so… I can’t tell how serious the other kid is about the belief. But I wonder if it’s a coincidence that their baptism names were Peter and John. You know. The two biggest apostles in church history. 

Word has it that Nobuo was baptized somewhere between 1588-1589.

Many people say that this is dubious because there’s no reason for him to be doing this. Back in those days many people got baptized or became open to the Christians to curry favour with Nobunaga, who was a supporter of the Christians, and to the other Europeans to get guns and stuff. They all dropped the religion like a hot potato once Nobunaga died, especially because Hideyoshi was anti-Christian and all that, so it’s really not beneficial for Nobuo to be doing this.

Considering he temporarily ran off to be a monk later, I doubt that he honestly believed in God or anything. Maybe he was in bad terms with Hideyoshi already by then and got himself baptized out of spite. I mean, his father Nobunaga only supported the Christians because they piss off the monks that he didn’t like and for the weird stuff they brought. Wouldn’t put it past his sons to become “Christian” just for the lulz.

Nobuo’s Christian name is Johan, or John. Which is funny because John was the last of Jesus’s twelve apostles to die. Nobuo was the one who lasted the longest among Nobunaga’s sons (if you don’t count the illegitimate son whose existence is seriously debatable anyway). 

 On that note…  One of his brothers, Nobuhide, was Christian too (baptized name Peter). That is one of the sons who just exist and not really show up much in English sources other than “he is Nobunaga’s son” so… I can’t tell how serious the other kid is about the belief. But I wonder if it’s a coincidence that their baptism names were Peter and John. You know. The two biggest apostles in church history.