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WINTER Japanese Art

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Japanese antiques art

From kyoto japan




This complete and matching armour comprises:

A sixty-two plate russet iron `hoshi kabuto’ (helmet with standing rivets). Each plate is held with twenty-five rivets making a total of one thousand five hundred fifty. The `tehen kanagu` (fitting surrounding the hole at the top of the helmet to allow ventilation) is composed of five tiers of floral filigree soft metals. A gilded copper `tsuke jirushi no kan` adorns the rear of the helmet bowl from which hangs a small silk bow. The front of the helmet is decorated with a finely carved, gilded copper `kuwagata-dai`covered in cherry blossom in relief. Between the `kuwagata`(hoe shaped decorations)is a gilded wood ‘maedate’ in the form of a dragon with crystal eyes, copper whiskers and red lacquered flames. The ‘fukigaeshi’ (turn backs) are wrapped with stenciled doeskin and carry heraldry of what is either the Kamei clan or Kyogoku clan. It is very difficult to say with certainty which, as many clans used the same heraldry. The ‘mabisashi’ (peak) and ‘fukigaeshi’ are trimmed with gilded copper in the form of rope. The ‘Hineno shikoro’ (close fitting neck guard) is composed of five lames of gilded iron ’kiritsuke kozane’ (false scales) lacquered red on the interior.


The ‘ressei men’ (mask of fierce expression) is made of red lacquered iron with embossed wrinkles over the cheeks. The mouth is drawn back in a snarl, revealing silver gilded teeth. ‘orekugi’ (bent hooks) on the cheeks are to prevent slippage of the helmet cord. Throat protection is provided by chain mail woven in ‘kui-ai’ style under which is a layer of silk of the same design present throughout the armour and hemp on the reverse. Hemp is good at absorbing sweat and drying quickly.


The ‘okegawa-dou’ (barrel shaped cuirasse) is made of gilded iron plate and ‘kiritsuke kozane. The breast and back plates are hinged on the lefthand side and secured with silk cord on the right. The iron plate has been patinated to look like ray skin and the rivets have been fashioned to look like cherry blossom. The ‘muna-ita’, ‘waki-ita’ and ‘seno-ita’ (upper part of breast plate, under arm plates and top of back plate) are made of iron, wrapped in stenciled doeskin and trimmed with rope like gilded copper. ‘Gyoyo’ (fittings to protect the shoulder straps) are made in the same manner and carry more gilded heraldry. The ‘agemaki no kan’ (fitting on the centre of the back plate) is made of very fine filigree gilded copper from which hangs a large silk bow. The rings on the breast plate known as ‘saihai tsuke no kan’ were used to attach a senior ranking samurai’s baton or war fan. The ‘gessan’ (skirt) is made of seven divisions, each of five lames of gilded leather ‘kiritsuke kozane’. The interiors are lacquered red.


The ‘sode’ (shoulder guards) are made of seven lames of gilded iron ‘kiritsuke kozane’. The top lame of each is trimmed with gilded copper rope and wrapped in doe skin. The ‘mizunomi no kan’ (metal ring on the trailing edge of the metal fitting on the fourth lame) also carries heraldry of the same design. The interior is lined with the same matching silk.


The ‘kote’ (sleeves) and ‘suneate’ (shin guards) are of ‘shino’ (gilded iron strips held with chain mail) style. The upper arms and ‘kou’ (back of the hands) are also decorated with gilded heraldry. Lined with matching silk as throughout the armour. The ‘tate-age’ (tops of the shin guards are made of red ‘rasha’ (wool import) into which have been sewn ‘kikkou’ (small iron hexagons); matching the ‘eri mawashi’ (collar) and ‘kobire’ of the cuirasse.


The ‘haidate’ (thigh guards) are made in ‘kawara’ (roof tile) style of over lapping gilded leather scales.


This armour is completed by a pair of animal fur boots and is housed in a ‘kiri’ (paulownia wood) storage box.



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