samurai iron mask for armor  Kaga Myochin school

Ryūbu menpō

Half mask for samurai armor with “noble” expression
Kaga Myōchin school, early Edo Period (1615-1867)
17th century

Removable nose and horsehair application; the surface finished with a file-marks pattern (yasurime).

This large menpo shows all the main features of the masks produced in the Kaga area by the various schools of armorers that were active there. The triangular jaw delimited by prominent semicircular embossed parts, the wide oval mouth without teeth and the surface with parallel lines engraved one by one (yasurime) are in fact all recurring elements of the masks produced in this region.

We still don’t know how the different Kaga schools (Haruta, Unkai, Horai and Myochin) have interacted each other but it is thought that the section of Kaga Myochin school was founded by Horai Jiro Kunihisa and this kind of menpo are often still called "Horai", even when they lack of the openwork iron applications typical of this school. 

The influence of Haruta smiths can be seen here in the stylized flower-shaped application on the chin, an element often visible on the chin guards they produced in this region since Muromachi period (Kaga-bo).

The presence of a protection for the delicate area between the neck and ear as well as the presence of the rare and somehow crude loops for the helmet laces, allow us to date the mask to the early Edo Period, when the functionality was still the most important feature of menpo’s production.

Menpo for sale. Price on application. Please include item stock number: men-1188

 

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