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Samurai Cuirass

Object Number:89-10-1A
Current Location: Collections Storage
Provenience: Japan
Inscription Language:Japanese Language
Credit Line:Received from various sources, pre-1989
Other Number:CG2016-1-68 - Found in Collection Number
CG98-1-36 uncertain - Found in Collection Number


Two-section, or clam-shell, style samurai cuirass (ni-mai-do). The front and back of the cuirass are both constructed of eight horizontal lames. Each lame is coated with black lacquer formed into "false scales" (kiritsuke kozane) to give the appearance of individual scales. Lames are connected to one another with dark blue silk cords in the kebiki-odoshi style. The top lames of both the front and back have a row of dark blue, cross knot lacing above the rest of the lacing. A metal ring is attached to the left side of the second lame with a chrysanthemum base washer. The upper lames are attached to solid metal plates around the neck and arm openings which are used to attach other fixtures securely to the cuirass. Each of these plates has a gold-painted decorative rim (fukurin). The front plate also has a decorative layer of stenciled leather (egawa) at the top. The inscription on it (正平六年六月一日) corresponds to June 1, 1351 which commemorates the day the stencil was first designed and not the date of the armor's manufacture. A hinge on the left side allows the cuirass to open and close while the right side is open but has a tie closure.

The upper-most back plate (boko-no-ita) supports the shoulder straps (watagami) which reach over the shoulders to the front of the cuirass. The upper-most front plate (muna-ita) supports toggles made of horn which would secure the shoulder straps. The shoulder straps have thick, green cords designed to hold the many movable parts together. A bracket (gattari) is attached to the back plate and serves to support a wooden rod which would hold a battle standard on the wearer's back. The wooden rod would extend down to the lower back where a small cup (machi-uke) would receive it. Beneath the gattari is a large ring with chrysanthemum base washers and a decorative plate. This ring would hold a decorative bow (agemaki) which is no longer present.

A brigandine armored collar (tate-eri or eri-mawashi) with an integrated shoulder pad (eri-dai) remains attached beneath the shoulder straps. The lining of the underside is light blue silk and white flowers with green and purple leaves on a brown background. The exterior is of hexagonal iron plates (kikko) beneath a top layer of stenciled leather. Orange lacing is then sewn through each individual plate. Green thread is sewn around each plate to create a honeycomb pattern. The edge is of blue leather with a white flower design.

Seven, five lame, pendant-like tassets (gessan) hang from the bottom of the cuirass, three from the front and four from the back. The silk cord and the lacquered scales mirror the rest of the cuirass.

Current & Past Exhibitions:

Echoes of the Samurai: An Exhibition of Japanese Arms and Armor (22 May 1981 - 14 Feb 1982) View Objects in Exhibition


[Catalogue] 1981. Echoes of the Samurai: An Exhibition of Japanese Arms and Armor.. Philadelphia. The University Museum. pg. 32 p. : ill., map ; 28 cm. Actual Citation : Page/Fig./Plate: Pg. 12View Objects related to this Actual Citation

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