Kani-nari kabuto

Samurai helmet shaped as a crab’s claw

Edo period, 18th Century


In feudal Japan, the crab was regarded as a majestic creature and was a symbol of the authority of early samurai warriors. In a well-known fairy tale, it is also a symbol of revenge, and it is frequently depicted alongside a monkey who murdered its father.

Even though this theme is represented on one of the most renowned tsuba (handguard) in the Tokyo National Museum, it is rather uncommon among samurai equipment. Only few kawari kabuto are in fact decorated with crab claws, and the shape of this helmet, which resembles the claw itself, is undocumented and likely unique.

The kabuto is crafted with moulded harikake, a mix of papier-mâché and urushi lacquer, over an iron bowl. The bold construction and balanced composition are typical of mid-Edo period production. 

The set is completed with a good iron ressei menpō with tare matching the shikoro.

Inventory Nr: 1788

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