Antique Mid Edo Period Samurai Armor Tetsusabiji Rokumai Do Tokubetsu Kicho Shiryo Certificate
Period: the middle of the Edo Period (appraised by The Association for the Research and Preservation of Japanese Helmets and Armor)
※The certificate mentions that the decoration (fist part) on the helmet was restored in modern times.
■Helmet bowl: Nari Kabuto
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; Samurai tried to express their dignity, personality, or religion by wearing the characteristic designed Kabutos. According to a theory, these uniquely designed Kabutos were made from the late Muromachi (1467-1573) period to the Edo (江戸, 1603-1868) 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 paper were used as materials for decoration.
This Kabuto has a unique design. We think this Kabuto is categorized as a type of Nari Kabuto (形兜) or Zunari Kabuto (頭形兜). Zunari Kabutos are usually made up of five plates glued together, but exceptions are made from a single plate hammered out. Speaking of Kawari Kabuto, it generally refers to Nari Kabuto. The character 形 means shape in Japanese. That is, each Nari Kabuto has a design that expresses the shape of motifs related to various animals, plants, or gods. There are two methods for making Nari Kabutos. One is Harikake (張懸), and another is Tetsu-Uchidashi (鉄打ち出し). Harikake is a technique in which multiple layers of paper are pasted on the model. After drying, the model will be removed and hardened with lacquer to create a modeled object with the same shape as the model. Tetsu-Uchidashi is a style of sculpting an object by hammering out an iron plate. We believe this Kabuto was made with the Harikake technique. According to the certificate, this Kabuto was restored in modern times. The figure of the fist raised to the sky gives a sense of strength and a strong will. We imagine it caught the attention of other warriors on battlefields.
■Shikoro (side neck guard):
Black-lacquered iron plates laced with white color threads.
■Fukikaeshi (side neck guard): Maru-ni Kikyou Mon
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 seen on this Fukikaeshi. You would find a gold-colored crest on each side. We believe this flower design crest is the Maru-ni Kikyou (丸に桔梗) Mon. The Kikyou (桔梗, Japanese bellflower) is designed. It is a small star-shaped flower. It is said its root has medicinal efficacy. The Kikyou pattern has often been used as a motif of Tanka (短歌, a kind of traditional Japanese poem) and pictures since the Heian period (794-1185). Its name was initially “Kichikou,” and it changed to “Kikyou” with time. It is said this flower was used for fortune-telling in the old days. This action is called Kikkyou-wo Uranau (吉凶を占う) in Japanese. The word Kikkyou (吉凶, good or bad omen) was associated with this flower’s name. “Kichikou” was compared to the word “Kichi Kou (吉更),” which means further good fortune. That is why this flower pattern is treated as a good omen design.
■Menpo (face guard): Ressei Menpo
Iron mask with a mustache. This type of Menpo is called Ressei Menpo (烈勢面頬). It represents the angry face to intimidate enemies. There are many types of Menpo, depending on their shape or appearance. The purpose of Menpo was not only to protect Samurai’s face. But also to hide their true faces so that their psychological states were not affected.
■Do (cuirass): Rokumai Do
Rokumai Do is a kind of cuirass for Tousei Gusoku (当世具足, developed armor style). Rokumai Do (六枚胴) was named after the fact that Rokumai (六枚) means siz plates, and Do (胴) means torso in Japanese. Instead of using a large number of small lamellar plates called Kozane (小札), this cuirass used large iron plates riveted.
■Decoration on body armor:
■Kusazuri (skirt of plates attached to the cuirass):
Black-lacquered iron Kusazuri laced with white, navy, and vermillion color threads.
■Kote (armored sleeves):
Intricate iron chain mail with silk.
■Haidate (thigh protection):
The Haidate (佩楯) is a thigh guard. This Haidate has a luxurious appearance. It is made up of fabrics with different designs. For example, several plant patterns are gorgeously designed on orange cloth. In addition, even the hem of this Haidate has a design that seems to be cherry blossom or Japanese apricot blossom. We think these clothes are used for Kote and Suneate also. Using fabrics with the same patterns everywhere adds decorativeness and uniformity to the entire appearance of this armor.
■Suneate (shin guard):
The Kikkou (亀甲, turtle’s shell) pattern is used for the cloth of the Suneate (脛当). It is a continuous geometric pattern connecting regular hexagons up and down. A theory says that this design was brought from China and the Korean Peninsula during the Asuka (592-710) and Nara periods (710-794). A proverb says turtles live long lives; therefore, turtle and turtle’s shell patterns represent longevity. In addition, as this continuous hexagonal pattern does not get out of its shape, it is said people wished for eternal prosperity by using this design. The strings that sew each Kikkou pattern have bright vermillion colors.
Certification: Tokubetsu Kicho Shiryo Certificate (No. 1980)
The certificate was issued by The Association for the Research and Preservation of Japanese Helmets and Armor, which is the most trusted Japanese armor appraiser in Japan. Tokubetsu Kicho Shiryo means an especially precious cultural article. It is ranked as the third highest of five rankings.
This armor was authenticated on May 22nd 2022 as Tokubetsu Kicho Shiryo and the paper mentions the armor was made in the mid Edo period.
An English translation of the certificate is available on request. We won’t charge any additional fee.
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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.
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