Samurai Face Guard


From: Japan

Curatorial Section: Asian

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Object Number 19879B
Current Location Collections Storage
Culture Japanese
Provenience Japan
Date Made 18th Century - 19th Century
Section Asian
Materials Wood | Lacquer

Black-lacquered iron half-mask (tetsu kuro urushi nuri ressei menpo) for a ceremonial suit of samurai armor. Facial wrinkles (shiwa) are simulated in the metal to create a fierce and aggressive facial expression. The mouth is open with lips lacquered red, though teeth are not shown. L-shaped hooks (ori kugi) protrude from each cheek to help fasten the helmet cord. A separate nose piece (hana no ita) is attached and showcases a bushy, white mustache (kuchi hige). A long, white beard (ago hige) is also present beneath the lower lip. Decorative plates are present where the ears would be, each shaped to look like a human ear. A drainage hole (ase nagashi no ana) for perspiration is located on the underside of the chin. The interior of the mask is painted with red lacquer. A blue silk cord (kake o) is attached to one cheek and would tie behind the head when the mask was worn. A four lame throat guard (tare) is attached to the mask beneath the chin. Each iron lame is coated with red lacquer painted over "false scales" (kiritsuke kozane) to give the appearance of individual scales. The lames are then painted gold over top the red lacquer. Lames are connected to one another with orange lacing in the kebiki-odoshi style.

Credit Line Purchased from G. T. Marsh and Co; subscription of Mrs. Phebe A. Hearst, 1897

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