Iron, alloys, brocade and diverse materials, Japan. Edo period (1603 -1868)
The multi-piece set of armor is a rare example, because of how nearly complete it is. From the helmet to the mask, to the shoes, it even still has the original chest in which the armour could be stored. The most captivating part of such a set of armor is always the helmet, kabuto, with its maidate and facemask, mempo. This figural maidate has been executed in the rare form of a dragonfly, tonbo. Its front gilded, the tonbo is mounted on a clasp with its head pointing downwards. The dragonfly is a symbolic emblem of victory and of summer. The helm has radial ribbing and a rosette in the form of a kiku (chrysanthemum). The visor and the highly arched ear-guard are decorated with silk brocade. The multi-part neck-guard is – like all other parts of the armor – movable and tied together with silk cords.
The facemask, mempo, is made of fine iron with a rust patina, with a typically very theatrical facial expression. This half-mask, a ho-ate, has a removable nose, attached to which is a ragged moustache, and a neck-guard. The inside of the mask is decorated with red lacquer. The other parts of the armor are: the chest-piece, do, on the front of which hang the kusazuri from the bottom; the shoulder-guards, called sode; the forearm-guards, kote, made of silk and featuring chains and buckles, attached to which are the hand-guards, made of cloth and thin iron; haidate, the thigh-coverings, also with brocade, chains and clasps; the shin-guards featuring vertical clasps tied to one another with braided wire on cloth lining; the shoes are purely decorative and covered with fur.
This set of armor was never used in combat. During the Edo period (1615-1868), Japan experienced an extended period of peace which lead to a blossoming of decorative-artisanal work. This effect made itself visible in sword-production in, for example, the koshira-e, the decorations and mountings which became more and more elaborate and precious as time went on. A similar development took place in the case of the armor which were increasingly purely representative, worn only on special occasions and which were preserved and cared for by certain families as precious, storied possessions. The cubical chest for the armor has iron handles and gilded mitsudomo-e, the triple comma motif, on three sides. The mitsudomo-e was a popular mon (crest) and is also the symbol of the god of war Hachiman.
This set of armor is almost entirely complete, with signs of aging appropriate for its age and use.
APPROXIMATLEY HEIGHT THAT OF A MID-SIZED MAN (JAPAN)
Expertise: Wolfmar Zacken
Provenance: From a Hungarian-Japanese collection
Dimensions: CHEST 52 x 39 x 37 CM (HLW)