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Arms and Armor of the Samurai | 12th–19th century

"Arms and Armor of the Samurai | 12th–19th century"

Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Rooms 5 & 6  December 21, 2021 (Tue) - March 13, 2022 (Sun)

Armor (Gusoku) with a Dōmaru Cuirass and White Lacing
Edo period, 17th century

The samurai ruled Japan for nearly 700 years, from the late 12th to the 19th century. They emulated the imperial court, which was the home of high culture, but also borrowed from the practices of common people. Wishing for divine protection in this life and salvation in the next, they worshipped both Shinto and Buddhist deities. The culture of the samurai was complex and ever–changing, but always reflected their authority as the warrior class of Japan.

This gallery focuses on the most prominent symbols of samurai authority: swords, armor, and other military equipment. These had many purposes. Through diverse colors and materials, they showed the tastes of their owners. Differences in shape and construction reflected differences in rank and social standing. Many samurai passed down this equipment as heirlooms, while high–ranking samurai exchanged it as diplomatic gifts. Swords and armor were also donated to Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in prayer for victory in battle.

Major Work(s) on Exhibit 6 results
Designation Name Amount Creation Excavation Period Acquisition Ownership Comment
Highlight Armor ("Gusoku") with a "Dōmaru" Cuirass and White Lacing Edo period, 17th century F-17209
Highlight Important Cultural Property Blade for a Long Sword ("Tachi"), Named “Shishiō” By a swordsmith in the Yamato region Heian period, 12th century F-152-1 On exhibit from January 2, 2022
Highlight Important Cultural Property Mounting for the Long Sword ("Tachi") Named “Shishiō”, Wooden black-lacquered scabbard Kamakura period, 13th–14th century F-152-2 On exhibit from January 2, 2022
Highlight Cliff-Shaped Helmet with Iris Leaves Azuchi-Momoyama–Edo period, 16th-17th century F-20135
Important Cultural Property Armor ("Haramaki") with Black Lacing in the Middle Muromachi period, 15th century F-19990
Highlight Important Cultural Property Robe ("Kosode") with Overlapping Diamonds and Bamboo Purportedly presented to Kyogen actor Sagi Niemon Sogen by Tokugawa Ieyasu; formely owned by Noguchi Hikobei Azuchi-Momoyama–Edo period, 16th–17th century I-3865 On exhibit from January 2, 2022 through March 6, 2022