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Super Anarchist
(Japan) This rare photo shows a special group of samurai that belong to one of the most powerful Japanese domains during the Edo period - the Shimazu clan of the Satsuma domain (modern-day Kagoshima prefecture). The clan had conquered the Ryuku Islands in 1609 and played a significant role in Japan's modernization during the 1800s.

Seated in the centre at the front are the two sons of the Shimazu clan, surrounded by other groups of men who are believed to be the retainers of the daimyo. One of the sons appears to be holding a Japanese war fan, which is a type of weaponised hand fan used in warfrare by the samurai class of feudal Japan.

There are three main types of war fans, the 'Gunsen', the 'Tessen' and the 'Gunbai' which all slightly differ in their own designs and uses. The war fans were sometimes made of wood, bronze, brass or other types of metals such as iron. The outer spokes of the fan were sometimes made from heavier plates of iron (and were designed to look like ordinary harmless folding fans, so they could be brought along to places where more obvious weapons were not permitted). The war fans were used in multiple situations, such as fending off knives, darts, shuriken (ninja stars) and could also be used as aids for swimming or for visible and commmunicating through audible signalling techniques . These samurai warriors were not only skilled fighters, they were also very cunning. Interestingly, there's even a Japanese name which was used to describe the art of fighting with war fans - 'Tessenjutsu'

For further context, the Ryukyu islands are a chain of islands (the largest island being Okinawa) that stretch from the southermost part of the Japanese island of Kyushi and all the way to Taiwan. Between the fifteenth and ninteenth century, the islands were an independent kingdom under the rule of the Ryukyu kings. The Satsuma domain was controlled by the Shimazu family from the end of the 12th century to the Meiji Restoration in 1868. According to writer Kenneth Pletcher, in 1609 the family had continued to trade with the Ryukyus even during the Tokugawa period, during a period of time when the rest of the nation were forbidden to contact with the outside world. As a result of this unique trading situation, this arrangement had enriched Satsuma, while also providing them with the sophisticated experience with foreign affairs that would later be proven useful in the 19th century when western powers had forced Japan to end its isolation.

The Satsuma domain had also acquired western learnings. For example, Shimazu Nariakira (1809-1858) had founded schools of medicine, mathematics and astronomy, while Shimazu Nariakira (1809-1858) had embraced Western-style military equipment and techniques.

Did any of you know about the history of the Ryukyu Islands (or Okinawa) or about Japanese war fans?
If not, hopefully this story makes you appreciate them even more now.



Super Anarchist
In 1976, the first day of the photo shoot for the forthcoming Pink Floyd Animals album cover took place at Battersea Power Station in London, England with a giant inflatable pig lashed between two of the structure's tall towers.

A trained marksman was hired ready to fire if the inflatable escaped, but was not needed on this, the first day.

Unfortunately, the following day the marksman hadn't been rebooked, so when the inflatable broke free from its moorings, it was able to float away, eventually landing in Kent where it was recovered by a local farmer, reportedly furious that it had “scared his cows.”


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