Ressei somen, Haruta school

A full-face russet iron samurai amour’s mask with fierce expression

Early Edo period, 17th -18th century

Kyoto, Arashiyama Museum
Kyoto Arashiyama Bijutsukan, catalog, pag. 28
Iida Kazuo, Katchû-men (Tokyo, 1991), cat. 123

Rare lacquered iron sōmen lacquered in kuro-urushi. The mask, with an expression both strong and elegant, is constructed in two parts only, with the nose incorporated into the upper section. This type of fabrication is found in some sōmen signed by Wushu Masanobu, of which other features, such as the shape of the side wrinkles and the protuberance above the nose, can also be seen here, and is commonly associated with the Haruta school.

The three-section yodarekake comes with a folding collar on the back.

Armor for the face - mengu - developed towards the end of the Muromachi Period (1336- 1573) with the double role of protection and a fastening point for the kabuto ropes through hooks or rings. However, masks that completely cover the face were not common, as they were not practical. Their use was restricted to high-ranking samurai who wore them for official occasions as an indication of their social status. For this reason original sōmen are very rare and almost invariably of excellent quality. A modular construction, generally in three parts as in this case, allowed the kabuto to fasten properly, adding the upper part only when necessary. 

Already active in Nara since the late Muromachi period (1333-1573), the Haruta school is one of the oldest schools of armorers in Japan.


Inventory Nr: 1901

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