Samurai armour (armour)

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This Samurai armour (tosei gosuku) was made in Japan after 1500. This is a decorative version, unlikely to have seen active service. The suit is made of lacquered metal plates laced with gold-coloured silk braid.

The helmet (kabuto) is in the hoshi-bachi style with an agemaki knot at the back. The neck guard (shikoro) attached to the helmet’s rim is decorated with blue kebiki and blue/white lacing (mimiito). The helmet does not belong to the suit, but items acquired as spoils of war were often reworked to form a composite suit.

The lacquered face mask (menpo) covers the lower half of the face. It is decorated with grooves and a faint painted moustache. Horse hair and bear fur were later used. The inside of the mask was often lacquered red to give an angry glow. It is not clear how much of this was visible when the mask was worn.

The throat guard (yodare-kake) hangs from the face mask. The two plates are held together with gold flat kebiki lacing. The decorative red cross knots on the edge are called hishinui.

The neck and throat guard (nodowa) sits underneath the throat guard and lies on top of the cuirass. The nodowa was originally used with just a face mask. It is not needed when the throat guard is worn, but its use was later misunderstood and they were worn together.

The cuirass (do) is made of lacquered metal plates, which are laced together with gold braid. It opens at the right and has a large decorative knot at the back (agemaki), sometimes called a dragonfly knot. Lacing is mainly horizontal (kebiki) with some red cross knots (hishinui) at the back.

This object is on display at RAMM in the World Cultures gallery.

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