• Arts of the Samurai  auction at Christies

    Sale 2378

    Arts of the Samurai

    23 October 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 57

    AN ITALIAN HELMET BOWL ADAPTED IN NANBAN STYLE

    MOMOYAMA PERIOD (CA. 1580)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN ITALIAN HELMET BOWL ADAPTED IN NANBAN STYLE
    MOMOYAMA PERIOD (ca. 1580)
    An Italian cabasset-type helmet with four panels etched and carved with Renaissance designs, the bowl of red and black-lacquered iron fittings to accommodate a Japanese neck guard and the plume holder to accommodate a Japanese maedate, the front peaked and embossed with eyebrows; rim of inome gilt


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    The Italian cabasset-type helmet was imported into Japan in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century when such Nanban ("southern barbarian," or foreign) pieces were fashionable among the high-ranking samurai. It is decorated with four panels etched and carved with Renaissance motifs and shows a man mounted on a stag about to trample a prostrate winged angel. The bowl has red and black lacquered-iron fittings to take a Japanese neck-guard, showing how in Japan such helmets were worn back-to-front so that the original brass Italian plume holder could serve as a Japanese maedate (forecrest) holder. The front part is made as a peak with embossed eyebrows. Two brackets have also been fitted at the sides to accommodate Japanese wakidate (side-crests). This helmet has, in addition, a gilt-rimmed inome ("boar's eye" piercing) at the back to accommodate a hair plume copying the European fashion.

    A similar Nanban helmet 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, was once owned by the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and is lent by the Toshogu Shrine at Nikko, which is dedicated to him.