Helmet, black with gold 5-petal flower emblem, red underside. Japanese helmet of the type called jingasa, 12x 13 inches. Lacquered wood in excellent condition. During the Tokugawa period, a key means of social control were the great parades of warlords and their retainers going to and from the capital city of Edo, where they were required to spend every other year in attendance upon the Shogun. These â€œalternate attendanceâ€ (sankin kotai) processions, up to 4,000 strong in the case of the Maeda clan, had the effect of keeping the common people of Japan in awe of the warriors. â€œAlternate attendanceâ€ thus helped keep the peace, something that the Shogunate was so good at doing that there was no war for the 250 years of the Tokugawa reign. As the Pax Tokugawa continued on and on, however, the Shogun and his retainers became warriors who never went to war. The actual ability to fight thus became secondary to maintaining a fearsome image. As Herman Ooms puts it in his essay in Edo: Art in Japan, 1615-1868, form became norm, and image, more important than reality. It is just this process that transformed armor into Art. Armor in the late Tokugawa Period is all about image, a point quite clear in this helmet. The helmet purports to be covered with silk that parts to reveal rough steel plates held together with large, round rivets. In fact, the helmet is made entirely of a thin, light wood covered with a layer of lacquer and gilt.
Materials may be used for educational, non-commercial purposes only. Acknowledgement to be given to the ASIANetwork-Luce Asian Art in the Undergraduate Curriculum Project and to the college from whose collection the work comes. The individual college retains copyright to the work.