Row 12

Japanese Samurai, Ivories & Enamels

This row contains the majority of the Japanese Collection. The armour of the samurai warriors on show dates to the Edo period (1600 - 1868 AD). The helmet or ‘kabuto’ consists of 32 plates, the nape guard or ‘shikoro’ consists of five lacquered parts and the sleeve armour or ‘kote’ is of seven layers, as are the shoulder guards or ‘sode’. This armour is quite different from that used by infantry since the Kamakura period (1185 - 1392 AD), a later version of which is on exhibition in the Out of Storage gallery.

The ivory figures on show are exquisite examples of Japanese art and date to the Meiji period (1868 - 1912 AD). Most of them are signed, bearing the names of such important artist-craftsmen as Gyokushu, Meizan, Toshikazu, Kameyama, Chikanobu, Ekimasa and Shinmei. Within the carvers’ category are ‘netsuke’ or ornate toggles that were suspended on belts and worn. Dating mostly to the Edo period, forms such as the figure of Hotei (Japanese god of wealth and happiness), a pea pod, mouse, tortoise, goat, lion and two devil drummers are amongst those represented. Makers’ names include Koharu, Minko, Masanao, Unpo, Shincho, Hokei, Kazutora, Masahiro and Ryosetsu Dojin.

The enamelled objects of the Japanese Collection are another fine example of Meiji period-applied art. Ranging from incense burners, to plates, flower vases, pots and trays, it becomes apparent how such decoration influenced European artistic developments in the lead into ‘Art Nouveau’ with its richness of colour and distinct spatial delineation.

To read about the contents of Row 13 click Next

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