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Burakumin clothing in the Tokugawa era (Japan)
emo_mobile wrote in little_details
Setting: Japan in the Tokugawa era (1600 to 1800 only, even though Togukawa/Edo era ended 1867) In any Burakumin/eta/outcasts town, mostly inland.

Searches tried: Googled eta clothing, Tokugawa clothing, Burakumin clothing, Tokugawa era clothing + "" Burakumin.

The Question(s): I've read that the eta people had laws that told them what clothes to wear, and symbols they had to wear to denote their impurity. But I haven't been able to find out what they actually wear. Is it dull, earth colors, or something less fancy than commoner clothing? Also, would it be reasonable for them to wear the kanji meaning 'eta' or 'hinin'? I can read hiragana and katakana, but would someone people able to show me the correct kanji?

Thanks :3

"Hinin" is not the same as "eta" - "hinin" is someone like a beggar or criminal who exists outside the system. "Eta" is a hereditary designation for people in certain classes of work.

I can't find much about burakumin clothing, but *everyone* had laws that told them which clothes to wear, that denoted their class, status and (if it was important) family. The clothing for landless peasants was generally undyed, or minimally dyed, so I suspect burakumin clothing would be of poorer quality and certainly not dyed. Additionally, since they are often working with leather, dead animals and so on, I wouldn't be surprised if their clothes were stained.

One answer I can give without speculation! It would be extremely unlikely for anyone to be wearing a kanji to display their status. Clothing, local knowledge of who they are and their language and behaviour would be more than enough to identify them. In addition, strict records are kept as to who is who - a mistaken identity is extremely unlikely. Added to that, most poor people cannot read, and the symbol would be pointless (though literacy in all classes is noticeably higher than in Europe of the same time - it would be quite possible for any character, no matter their class, to have learned to read and write).

I hope this helps!

Thanks! :D ONe more question though.. Would unbyed clothing mean it would look like kanji, or would it be a plain color like black?

Thanks again <3

Undyed means the natural color..usually off-white or tan. I'm not sure what you mean by "look like kanji"? kanji is writing, so ink or dye would have to be used to produce it.

I'm sorry, my mind would have been on two tracks. >>; I meant would it have.. what is it.. shibori? With dyed patterns, or plain? But I got my answer, so thanks.

try Googling "Japanese sumptuary laws."

Did you find anything specific?

I've tried "tokugawa sumptuary laws", "burakumin sumptuary laws", "japanese sumptuary laws", and so forth, but the pages that mention specific laws do so only very briefly, and so far none of those laws have been targeted at the burakumin.

Eta is 穢多, or "filth" + "much"; that is to say, "full of filth." Hinin is 非人, or "nonhuman."

As lilacsigil mentioned above, the eta and hinin, although they were both forced to live in "buraku," or ghettoes (from which the euphemistic, post-Meiji term "burakumin" is derived) were mostly-separate groups. The eta were those who handled animal products; the hinin were beggars, criminals, executioners, and traveling actors. One could either be born a hinin (for instance, by being born to beggar parents) or fall into hinin-hood (for instance, by committing a crime), but one was always born an eta.

According to Edo jidai burakumin no seikatsu, laws regarding eta/hinin were enforced quite differently at different times and in different places, but some of the sumptuary laws that applied to the eta/hinin during the Edo are as follows:

-They were prohibited from tying back their hair
-They were required to wear their hair short
-They were not allowed to wear anything on their heads
-They had to wear blue collars
-Their clothes had to end above the knee
-Women could not dye their teeth or pluck their eyebrows

In short, I imagine that if you write your eta/hinin as looking poor, disreputable, and manifestly unfashionable, you'll be on the right track. Hope this helps!

Thanks so much!! It really helps alot, especially the blue collar~

If you're still looking


2011-11-10 12:16 am (UTC)

Here's a link to a University Website and an online book version of "Tokugawa Village Practice:Class, Status, Power, Law" by Herman Ooms

It should shed some light on the subject:;brand=ucpress