Thursday, October 21, 2010

Did Lead-Based makeup poison Samurai Children and Topple the Last Japanese Shogunate


In the Edo period, shoguns ruled by using the feudal system. This system collapsed in 1868 and Japan returned to imperial rule. There are many reasons as to why this system failed, but recently there has been a new study that proposed makeup has a role in ending feudalism in Japan. Anatomist Tamiji Nakashima led a research which found people in a samurai graveyard. They found that the women had higher lead levels than the men, but the children had 50 time higher levels than that of their parents. Being of a higher class, samurai women would wear heavy lead-based powder on their face to have a white complexion compared to the peasants who has to work out in the sun. The children were most likely exposed to this lead while breastfeeding. Even Edo rulers got strange diseases that came from lead in the body which weakened the rulers and ultimately ended the shogunate system


Taylor S. Period 1

3 comments:

anniebananie_4 said...

It is fascinating to read about seemingly small details that may have had a huge impact on history. One forgets that each small decision made throughout the day could ultimately have a much larger effect. It is also interesting that the occurence of lead in products has been such a common problem throughout history, whether it has been known or not. It just goes to show that each person in society contributes their own little piece to history.

jaclyn.dewitt said...

Who would have thought that wearing makeup could have this much of an effect on a civilization. I would have never thought that the the lead of the makeup could effect someone, even a society so greatly. Its crazy that every little decision we make could have a great of impact. Most of all, I cannot believe that breastfeeding could transfer this sad phenomenon to children who never even used the makeup.

Donovan Blowers said...

It really has to suck not knowing that the makeup your wearing is going to kill you. I kinda feel bad for these people but I really don't think that this played a big role in ending the samurai. Sure, it would have poisoned some people and they would have had problems later on in life but I don't find it very influential to their undoing. Its an interesting blog.