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  • Thumbnail for Oyoroi or "Great" Armor
    Oyoroi or "Great" Armor

    According to Hosokawa family tradition, this set of armor was worn in a 1358 battle in Kyoto by Hosokawa Yoriari, the founder of the family. Much of the original assemblage hat protects the body has survived: the cuirass and its pendant kusazuri (protective skirt), including the entire waidate (right side guard), and the kyubi no ita, which is suspended from the left shoulder over the chest. The two expansive osode (large upper-arm guards) are replacements dating from the sixteenth century and the sendan no ita, which would have been suspended from the right shoulder over the chest, is missing. The hoshi kabuto (star helmet) is made of narrow trapezoidal iron plates fixed with rows of neatly assembled rivets. The right-hand flap of the shikoro has lost several of its lacquered lames, a reminder of a sword blow during a fierce battle. - abridged from Shimizu, "Japan: The Shaping of Daimyo Culture".

  • Thumbnail for Painting of Mounted Warrior
    Painting of Mounted Warrior

    A depiction of a high-ranking warrior on a horse, his sword unsheathed for battle. This image has traditionally been identified as Ashikaga Takauji, head of his clan and founder of the Muromachi shogunate who lived most of his life on the battlefield.

  • Thumbnail for Samurai  Armor II
    Samurai Armor II

    This set of tosei gusoku, said to have been worn by Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) during his great triumph at the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, was treasured as a symbol of Tokugawa dynastic power. According to shrine records, Ieyasu had the armor made after a dream in which he was Daikokuten, a god associated with weath and war. In Japanese the helmet shape is described as being in the style of a headdress traditionally worn by Daikokuten in sculptural and pictorial representations. The armor became known as the "dream-inspired form" and served as the model for many copies made by succeeding generation of Tokugawa rulers.

  • Thumbnail for Oyoroi  Samurai Armor
    Oyoroi Samurai Armor

    Oyoroi (literally "great armor") was the loose-fitting defensive armor of mounted archers that was developed late in the Heian period. It is made chiefly of leather and iron bound together to form horizontal tiers.

  • Thumbnail for Dobuku or Short Jacket
    Dobuku or Short Jacket

    The dobuku was a short jacket worn by high-ranking samurai from the late Muromachi to early Edo periods. This example is made of leather and has seven white leather paulownia crests appliqued to the front and back.

  • Thumbnail for Sword Guards II
    Sword Guards II by Matashichi, Hayashi

    Both sword guards were made by Hayashi Matashichi, and are iron with inlaid gold. Upper left-corner: On this flower-shaped iron tsuba are five openwork cherry blossoms. An inlaid gold rope pattern encircles the inner portion, and beyond this in a concentric circle, fine threadlike openwork lines represent mist. Evenly spaced around the scalloped perimeter are four heart-shaped perforations. The blossoms of this powerful work are carved in slight relief, and the gold harmonized well with the color of the iron. Right: the tsurumaru, literally round crane," is a type of dancing crane motif in which the tips of the widely spread wings meet above the head, forming a circular cartouche. This red-tinted black iron tsuba is decorated with the tsurumaru motif in skillfully executed openwork. The eyes are delicately inlaid with gold." - Hiroi Yuichi

  • Thumbnail for Sword Guards
    Sword Guards by Rakuju

    A verdant growth of dew-laden pampas grass, the moon shining through it, has long symbolized Musashino, the broad grassy plain where the warriors of eastern Japan created the shogunal capital, Edo. As early as the Heian period Musashino served as a theme for literature and painting, and in the Momoyama period the bending, swaying, moonlit grasses became commonplace in the decorative arts as well. This pair of iron tsuba, large and small for a daisho set of swords, is finely decorated with the requisite pampas grass, dew, and crescent moon in openwork, and further ornamented with a hammered-gold inlaid floral scroll. The artist's name, Rakuju, is inlaid in gold to the left of the tang holes. - Hiroi Yuichi

  • Thumbnail for Samurai Armor
    Samurai Armor

    Originally owned and worn by Honda Tadakatsu (1548-1610), one of Tokugawa Ieyasu's generals and a powerful daimyo of Ise Province (a large part of present-day Mie Prefecture). The antlers are large but lightweight,being made of wood and layers of paper hardened with coats of black lacquer. The armor itself was made of leather, lacquer and iron.