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Arts of the Samurai
23 October 2009
New York, Rockefeller Plaza
RED-AND-BLUE-LACED GOLD-LACQUERED HONKOZANE NIMAI DO GUSOKU ARMOR
EDO PERIOD (17TH CENTURY), HELMET SIGNED SAOTOME IECHIKA (c. early 17th century)
The helmet an elegant and unusual one hundred and twenty-four-plate high-pointed version of the shiinari (acorn shape) type of suji-bachi, signed Saotome Iechika, with a fine multi-stage gilt tehen kanamono, and a single shinodare (arrow-shaped component) in the form of a snake, the maedate (forecrest) of a gilt praying mantis poised as if to strike its prey, a full and spreading shikoro (neck guard), the o-sode (shoulder guards) of downward-curving rows of honkozane (individual scales lacquered and laced together) flaring outwards in symmetrical curves toward the lower tiers, the nimai do (two-piece cuirass), shikoro, sode, kusazuri all having blue lacing on the upper rows of kozane and red on the lower rows, robust yet elegant black-lacquered tsutsu-gote (sleeves with hinged-plate forearm pieces) with the triple-aoi mon of the Tokugawa family in relief, triple-aoi mon on the gyoyo, all peripheral components including muna-ita, oshitsuke no ita, waki-ita, with blue-dyed leather painted with scrolling and with dragons among waves in gold, tsutsu suneate (leg guards) matching the kote, the shoes of bear-fur
The property title page in the catalogue should read Lot 80 instead of Lot 79
Tokugawa family, Kii province (Wakayama Prefecture)
Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo
Kishu Tokugawake zohin tenkan mokuroku (Auction catalogue of Tokugawa family of Kii province) (Tokyo: Tokugawa koshakuke, 1927), pl. 300.
Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Moji, "Musashi no jidai--Kassen no bigaku" (The period of Miyamoto Musashi--Aesthetics of the battle), 2003.4.4--5.18
This armor is from the collection of treasures of the Kii Tokugawa family, established in the seventeenth century. The collection consisted of arms, books, and, particularly, ceramics for tea practice. The treasure store was later enhanced by the great daimyo collector Tokugawa Harutomi (1711-1852), a keen adherent of tea practice, but was dispersed from time to time during and after the Meiji period (1868-1912). This armor was acquired by the Idemitsu Museum of Arts. It is a fine example of an early Edo-period (1600-1868) gusoku of the highest quality for a daimyo and in quite original and fine condition. Immediately striking is the gilt maedate forecrest in the form of a praying mantis, a rare motif, to be compared with that of the helmet originally in the early collection of a daimyo of Kaga province (Ishikawa Prefecture) exhibited in "Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156--1868," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 21 October 2009--10 January 2010.
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