Antique Edo Period Iron Black Lacquered Samurai Armor
Period: estimated Edo Period
The Kabuto (兜, helmet) is a protector for the head. When people started using the Kabuto, it was initially designed for practical use. However, the principal purpose of its design has changed with time; Samurais tried to express their dignity, personality, or religion by wearing the characteristic design Kabutos. According to a theory, these unique designed Kabutos were made from the late Muromachi period to the Edo period. This type of Kabuto is categorized as the Kawari Kabuto (変わり兜), and a variety of materials were used to create them. For example, animal fur, seashells, plants, and papers were used as materials for decoration.
Here we would like to introduce to you a little bit more about the history of Kabutos. Before the Kawari Kabuto’s production, the Suji Kabuto (筋兜) has appeared during the Nanbokuchou (南北朝, 1337-1392) period. At that time, the tactic was gradually changed from the piggyback fight style to battle with the Tachi (太刀) sword and the Naginata (薙刀, Japanese halberd) on the ground. Therefore, there was a rise in demand for the weight saving of the Kabuto. Also, in order to turn the attack by swords, a new type of structure was invented; it is the Suji Kabuto (筋兜). Its form slides swords’ attacks when weapons hit the Kabuto. It is said that the production of the Suji Kabuto prospered in the Muromachi (室町, 1336-1573) period. We estimate this helmet is one of these Suji Kabutos made in that tendency in the Edo period.
■Shikoro (side neck guard):
Iron plates laced with navy blue and ivory threads.
■Fukikaeshi (side neck guard): Family crest of rice pattern
The Fukikaeshi (吹き返し) is both ends of a helmet. It protects the face from swords and also shows its beautiful workmanship. Family crests are sometimes designed on this part, as you see in this Fukikaeshi. The motif of this crest is probably rice. Since ancient times, rice has been worshiped as an essential food and considered a symbol of wealth. In addition, it has been treated like a treasure. Some people believe gods dwell in rice. Therefore, this motif has often been designed as a crest of the Inari (稲荷) shrine, which enshrines the Inari god, who is regarded as the god of grain and agriculture. The former owner of this helmet might have worshipped the Inari god. Also, as mentioned above, this plant motif is seen in family crests. A theory says that about 40 Daimyo and Samurai families used the rice pattern for their crests in the Edo period. It is one of the familiar designs for Japanese people.
■ Front decoration (Maetate):
The Kuwagata (鍬形) is attached to this helmet. It is a kind of Maedatemono (前立物, front decoration) to dignify the appearance. This helmet’s Kuwagata has a shape in which its tip is bifurcated. It is made of one metal plate and has a simple look. Although there are minor damages such as scratches, these are traces of its long history. So we hope you will enjoy it as a part of an antique texture.
■Do (cuirass): Okegawa Nimai Do
The Nimai Do (二枚胴) is a kind of cuirass for Tousei Gusoku (当世具足, developed armor style). Since Nimai (二枚) means two plates, and Do (胴) means torso in Japanese, this type of Do is called this name. This Do uses many small lamellar plates called Kozane (小札, small strip-shaped plate).
■Sode (shoulder guards):
Iron Sode laced with green threads.
■Kusazuri (skirt of plates attached to the cuirass):
Lacquered iron Kusazuri laced with green threads.
■Kote (armored sleeves):
Intricate iron chain mail with silk.
■Haidate (thigh protection):
The Haidate (佩楯) is a thigh guard.
■Kacchu-Hitsu (armor box):
You would find a golden mark on the back of this armor box. We think it is designed as a family crest. This design is called the Mitsuwa Chigai (三つ輪違い) pattern, which is categorized in the Wa Chigai (輪違い) pattern. According to a theory, this family crest was mainly used in today’s Shizuoka, Tochigi, Shiga, Hyogo, and Fukuoka prefectures.
Samurai Museum is located in Tokyo, Japan, exhibiting antique artifacts related to the Samurai history. Samurai Museum Shop is the place for those who are interested in Japanese culture and craftsmanship. We deal with antique Samurai swords/armor, traditional crafts made in Japan and so on.
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【How to make sure the condition】
Please keep in mind that what you are going to purchase is an antique item. We uploaded high resolution photos for you to check its condition thoroughly. If you like to see more photos with different angles, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to send them to you so that you can make informed decision. It is essential for us to know that you are happy with your choice of a sword. and we are prepared to use the best of our ability to serve you.
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【How To Preserve Antique Samurai Armor】
Dryness, humidity, and bad ventilation might deteriorate the condition of antique Samurai armor. The best temperature to preserve Samurai armor is around 20℃ in Celsius, and humidity should be about 60%. Direct sunlight should be avoided. We recommend storing armors in a room with good ventilation. If you like to display them outside the boxes for a prolonged time, we suggest using a glass case in order for dust not to be accumulated easily. In case you don’t use a glass case, please make sure to regularly dust off from the armor by using a soft brush made of delicate cloth or brush for painting.
If you like to know more about the preservation of this armor, please feel free to contact us.