Kabuto from the Saika school of armorers

14 October 2020

Haruta school members who moved to the Kii region in the early Edo Period didn't just do some occasionale works; in fact they obtained permission to found a new school, which took the name of the village where they worked, Saika, near Wakayama, possibly on request of the local daimyo, Asano Yukinaga, a great armour amateur.. Keeping alive the traditions of the region of origin, the members of this school specialized in the construction of kabuto, basically working on two types, based on a six-plate pattern and enriched with cut-out iron applications (kirigane). The rivets are protruding and we can often find different types of decoration: large shaped applications, silver ageminations and a sort of iron straw that rises on the top.

  • Saiga-kabuto. The kabuto called by the name of the school includes a six-plate helmet bowl surmounted by another large chrysanthemum-shaped plate, generally made on several levels. These characteristics, as well as the shape of the kabuto itself, recall the helmets used in the same period in Korea, opening interesting hypotheses on the relationship between the two countries. For this reason these helmets are sometimes classified as nanban-kabuto, meaning helmets of foreign inspiration.
  • Okitenugui-kabuto. In this case the helmet is designed with a shape reminiscent of a towel tied on the head, called okitenugui. For the construction of this helmet heavy plates were used, hammered so as to be slightly rounded in the upper part: this curved surface proved to be very effective in repelling gunshots.

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