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Original Japanese 19th Century Edo Period Samurai Full Body Armor with Kabuto Helmet in Wood Transit Chest

Regular price $3,795.00

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Compare at $4,995.00

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind set. Japanese armor is thought to have evolved from the armor used in ancient China and Korea. Cuirasses and helmets were manufactured in Japan as early as the 4th century. Tankō, worn by foot soldiers and keikō, worn by horsemen were both pre-samurai types of early Japanese cuirass constructed from iron plates connected together by leather thongs.

During the Heian period (794-1185), the Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armor worn by the samurai known as the dou or dō. Japanese armor makers started to use leather (nerigawa) and lacquer was used to weatherproof the armor parts. By the end of the Heian period the Japanese cuirass had arrived at the shape recognized as being distinctly samurai. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armors, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) which these cuirasses were now being made from.

In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armor makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries-old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours). Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms.

The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered the peaceful Edo period, samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armor as a symbol of their status but traditional armours were no longer necessary for battles. During the Edo period light weight, portable and secret hidden armors became popular as there was still a need for personal protection. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, peasant revolts required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armor jacket) and armored sleeves as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing. Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armor) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane).

Armor continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji period) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armor happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion.

Japanese armor was generally constructed from many small iron (tetsu) and/or leather (nerigawa) scales (kozane) and/or plates (ita-mono), connected to each other by rivets and macramé cords (odoshi) made from leather and/or braided silk, and/or chain armor (kusari). Noble families had silk cords made in specific patterns and colors of silk thread. Many of these cords were constructed of well over 100 strands of silk. Making these special silk cords could take many months of steady work, just to complete enough for one suit of armour. Japanese armour was designed to be as lightweight as possible as the samurai had many tasks including riding a horse and archery in addition to swordsmanship. The armour was usually brightly lacquered to protect against the harsh Japanese climate. Chain armour (kusari) was also used to construct individual armor pieces and full suits of kusari were even used.

This fine full-body armor set with matching helmet we are offering dates from the first half of the 19th century, the later portion of the Edo period (江戸時代, Edo jidai) or Tokugawa period (徳川時代, Tokugawa jidai) of Japanese history. This is the period between 1603 and 1867, when Japan was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional daimyo. It is definitely a set made for use, and not a display piece. It comes in its original transit chest, which measures 19"H x 14" x 14".

The armor is made from brown enameled steel and iron plates set into fine chain mail, held together by the fabric backing. There is cording connecting many of the pieces, and there is also a lot of chain mail between the various pieces. Please note that the silk and linen backing of the armor has become VERY delicate over time, in many as easy to tear as a sheet of paper, so please handle this item WITH CARE. The helmet looks to have probably had the fabric portions replaced in the late 19th / early 20th century, which was very common so that items could keep being displayed.

This lovely armor set consists of the following components:

8 Ken Suji Kabuto (兜) Helmet:
This example is offered in very good condition. The main portion of the helmet is made of 8 pieces (ken suji) of blacksmith forged iron which has been lacquered on both sides. It is definitely magnetic, and has a very nice brown finish on the outside, and is a darker brown on the inside. It looks like the inside of the plates may also be reinforced with pressed paper. It features two Fukigaeshi, which are the wing-like projections on the side of the visor.

Around the main body of the helmet there is a single ring with a front visor, which has one semi-circular ring attached directly to it. Below this are four further rings that form the Shikoro (錣) rear neck guard of the helmet, attached by dark blue cords. The interior has a complete fabric and leather liner, which has three loops for attachment of the cord, which is unfortunately missing. The front of the helmet has the hari-date for attachment of a crest, and there is a gold painted wood crest installed, which we have not been able to identify.

Full Body Armor Consisting of the Following Components (some are linked together):

- 1X Dou (胴) Chest Armor made from linked plates and chain mail
- 1X Kusazuri (草摺) Armor Plates attached to the bottom of the Dou that protect the hips
- 2X Sode (袖) Spaulders - Shoulder Armor
- 2X Kote (籠手) Vambraces - Forearm Armor
- 2X Tekkou (手甲) Gauntlet Gloves
- 1X Haidate (佩楯) Apron Style Thigh Protector
- 2X Suneate (臑当) Shin Protectors

We have tried our best to describe this armor, however Japanese armor, or feudal era armor of any region for that matter, is complex and names are often confusing. Everything that is pictured is included, and it really makes a fantastic display piece.

This is genuine period armor, not reproduction, much more research can, and should, be conducted. This is a ready-to-display set of Edo period Samurai armor with a great helmet!

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