Friday, 13 June 2014

A look into Nobunaga's heraldry

I happened to notice something curious... That is, the battle banners sported by the Oda army in movies, videogames or miniatures; here's an example, coming from the taiga drama Tokugawa Ieyasu, where Nobunaga was played by Yakusho Koji:
I was so used to see the Oda kamon on Nobunaga's banners that I started to gave it for granted, but as I was searching for other informations, I happened to stumble on a contribution from O Uma Jirushi, a compilation of daimyo and samurai banners compiled in 1650 by a monk named Kyuan.
This work is considered quite reliable and it's an accredited source for what concerns Japanese heraldry.

Here I found the banners that were supposed to belong to Nobunaga's army:
The first and third item are recognized as horo (母衣), respectived of the black (黒母衣衆) and red (赤母衣衆) units.
The second item is the uma-jirushi, a standard coming in varied shapes that pin-pointed the location of the daimyo on the battlefield. Nobunaga's rappresents a golden umbrella, here.
And finally, the last item is a nobori, which is nothing but what we called a banner 'til now.
As you can see, it's not decorated by the Oda kamon, but by the eiraku tsuho coin, one of Nobunaga's personal symbols.

I found a similar reference on this painting of the Battle of Nagashino, preserved in the museum of Nakatsu Castle (中津城):
You can spot Nobunaga at the end of the marching group, mounted on horse.
He's preceeded by a tsukaiban sporting a red horo, and you see again the coin on his banners.
Here are different uma-jirushi, though: instead of a golden umbrella, you can spot black feathers decorating them.
In this painting we can also see the exhibition of the "lord's helmet": besides the practical reason, the bearer of the helmet was considered as the bearer of an uma-jirushi.

For further pics, I suggest you to take a peek at this page; you can see further versions of the same banner, coming from other paintings or prints.
The picture contains also a depiction of the Oda clan's sashimono, which is very curious, as it doesn't contain any kamon again.

At this point I wondered about what the Oda clan sported on their nobori before Nobunaga's rise to power --And I couldn't find anything. Apparently whatever was of the Oda clan before Nobunaga has been removed from the collective memory..?
The only nobori left related to the Oda and sporting the kamon that I could find, is that of Nobunaga's son Nobukatsu, that apparently used a multicoloured version of it.
An example can be found at the Rakusan'en garden in Gunma Prefecture:
Picture's source:


  1. Ah yes, this. After Nobu adopted the Eiraku Tsuho symbol, the only person ever noted to still wear the Oda kamon on his nobori is Nobukatsu. I remember reading an article about this somewhere, but I forgot where I put the notes.

    I saved it, but I forgot its name so now it's buried under a lot of other things.

    1. It seems so!
      --But it's really weird that I can't find anything about the "previous" nobori, as those of Nobuhide, or the other branches of the family. I think that maybe they used the ones with the family kamon.

    2. That seems right. Maybe the family is just not that important before that there is no records? O__O

      It's so hard to even find portraits of him >.<

    3. If that's so, it's quite UNJUST!
      --Nobuhide-sama é_è ... I wonder if there's something about it at the Banshoji. The guys seems to have one of the biggest collection of book related to the Oda... But:
      1) I have no idea of how to access that
      2) It's all in Japanese anyway XD