Yoshitsune-gote-do-maru

Samurai armour

Edo period (1615-1867), 18th century

 

Signature

The menpō is signed under the chin 弘前住 明珍紀宗賢 盛吉作 (Hirosaki no Ju Myōchin ki Munekata Moriyoshi saku)

 

Certificate

The armor accompanied by a certificate of registration as Jūyō Bunka Shiryō(Important cultural work)issued by the Nihon Katchu Bugu Kenkyu Hozon Kai (Association for the Research and Preservation of Japanese Helmets and Armor).

Literature:

Katchu Bugu Juyo Bunka Shiryo Zuroku - Vol. 4, (Tōken shunjû shinbunsha: Tōkyō, 2004), Pag. 76-77

Description:

The style of the armor is reminiscent of the medieval suits, as common in the latter half of the Edo period, with large sode (shoulder guards) and an old-type construction. The helmet is in fact based on a Kamakura kabuto, with a hemispheric form open on top with a broad hole (hachimanza), large rivets, and rich applied gilded brass kanamono. The cuirass is constructed as a dō-maru, a Muromachi era model that wraps around the body without hinges and is flexible owing to its construction of hundreds of tiny plates linked together. This system, known as hon-kozane ("true scales"), was a complex, costly, but effective way of lacing numerous small plates together; it was used until the 16th century and then resumed in the Edo period for revival-style armor for high-ranking samurai. The same mothod is used here for the entire armor, including the neck guard (shikoro), throat guard (yodare-kake), shoulder guards (sode), and groin plates (kusazuri). The fashion for early style armours was firmly established when the eighth shogun Tokugawa Ieyoshi (1684 - 1750) promoted a revival of ancient weaponry, including swords and armour, to revitalize what he believed to be a decline in martial spirit of the nation.

The arms guards are lacquered in black with gold takamaki-e (high relief lacquer) decorations, reproducing the traditional Yoshitsune-gote, a National Treasure original pair of sleeves held in Nara's Kasuga Grand Shrine. Although they are said to have belonged to the Heian period hero Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune the sleeves in fact date from the Kamakura period, but are none the less a most beautiful example of the armourer's art.

The mask is a highly unusual ressei-men (mask with fierce expression), with styled wrinkles all over its surface, demonstrating the high skill of Munekata, a famous Myōchin armorer who specialized in embossed (uchidashi) menpō. Munekata was a student of Munesuke, junior of Muneakira and father or Munemasa. He was hired by the Tsugaru clan and worked in their main fief of Hirosaki in the early 18th century. A famous sōmen by this armorer can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

 

Inventory Nr: 1697

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