Ō-yoroi, Kamakura period, 13th-14th century, National Treasure, Kasuga Grand Shrine.
A man wearing Samurai armor and jinbaori (sleeveless jacket) turns around, 2019

Scholars agree that Japanese armour first appeared in the 4th century, with the discovery of the cuirass and basic helmets in graves.[1] During the Heian period (794-1185), the unique Japanese samurai armour ō-yoroi and dō-maru appeared.[2] The Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of body armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or dō, with the use of leather straps (nerigawa), and lacquer for weatherproofing. Leather and/or iron scales were also used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) of these cuirasses.[3]

In the 16th century, Japan began trading with Europe, during what would become known as the Nanban trade. This was the first time matchlock muskets were imported, and as they became mass-produced domestically, samurai needed lighter and more protective armour. As a result, a new style of armour called tosei-gusoku (gusoku), which means modern armour, appeared.[3] When a united Japan entered the peaceful Edo period, samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status.

Ōyamazumi Shrine is known as a treasure house of Japanese armour. It houses 40% of Japanese armour that has been designated as a National treasure and an Important Cultural Property.[4][5] Kasuga Grand Shrine is also known as a treasure house of valuable armour.[6]

Every year on Children's Day, May 5, Japanese households display miniature samurai armor and kabuto (helmets) in keeping with the tradition of Tango no Sekku. In feudal times, real samurai armor, kabuto, and tachi were displayed.[7][8]

History

Dō-maru, Muromachi period, 15th century, Important Cultural Property, Tokyo National Museum
Gusoku Armour from the Kii Tokugawa Family. Edo period, 17th century. Minneapolis Institute of Art. In 2009, it sold for $602,500, the highest bid in Christie's history for a Japanese armour.[9]
Gusoku Armour with a medieval revival style. Cloud dragon is drawn using maki-e technique. Edo period, 19th century, Tokyo Fuji Art Museum

The earliest Japanese armour is thought to have evolved from the armour used in ancient China.[1][10] Cuirasses and helmets were manufactured in Japan as early as the 4th century CE.[1] Tankō, worn by foot soldiers and keikō, worn by horsemen were both pre-samurai types of early Japanese cuirass constructed from iron plates connected together by leather thongs.[11]

During the Heian period (794-1185), the unique Japanese samurai armour ō-yoroi and dō-maru appeared. Luxurious and heavily armed ō-yoroi were worn by senior mounted samurai, while the lighter dō-maru were worn by lower-class infantry samurai.[2] The Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or dō. Japanese armour makers started to use leather (nerigawa), and lacquer was used to weatherproof the armour parts. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armour, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) from which these cuirasses were now being made.[12] The artistic decoration of ō-yoroi reached its peak around the time of the Genpei War at the end of the Heian period. At the end of the 14th century, towards the end of the Kamakura period (1185-1333), even senior samurai often used lightweight dō-maru.[2]

In the Kamakura period (1185-1333), the most simple style of armor called hara-ate (腹当) appeared, which protected only the front of the torso and the sides of the abdomen, and was worn by lower-ranked fighters.[13] In the late Kamakura period, the haramaki, which extended both ends of the hara-ate to the back, appeared. During the Nanbokuchō period (1336-1392), ashigaru (foot soldiers) and conscripted farmers joined the fighting on foot, increasing the demand for light, mobile, and inexpensive haramaki. Later, kabuto (helmets), men-yoroi (facial armor), and kote (gauntlet) were added to the haramaki, and even high-ranking samurai began to wear them.[14]

In the Muromachi period (1336-1573), the production process of armor became simplified, and mass production became possible at a lower cost and faster rate than before. The scales of traditional armor were connected to each other with cords in a style called kebiki odoshi (毛引縅), which was so dense that the entire surface of the scales was covered with the cords. In this period, on the other hand, a new method called sugake odoshi (素懸縅) was adopted, in which the scales of armor were sparsely connected to each other by two cords. The method of overlapping armor scales was also simplified. The traditional style of armor scales was the honkozane (本小札), in which half of the scales were overlapped and connected to each other. In this period, on the other hand, a new style of scales called iyozane (伊予札) was developed, in which one-fourth of the scales were overlapped and connected to each other.[14]

In the 16th century, Japan began trading with Europe, during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Matchlock muskets were first introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in 1543. The matchlock muskets were named "Tanegashima" after the first island they arrived on.[15] Soon after, when Japanese swordsmiths began to mass-produce matchlock muskets, warfare in Japan changed completely. The samurai needed armour that was lighter and more protective. In addition, large-scale battles required armor that could be mass-produced. As a result, a new style of armour called tosei-gusoku (gusoku), which means modern armour, appeared. Gusoku evolved from the dō-maru lineage.[3]

Scales has changed to itazane (板札), which is made of relatively large iron plate or platy leather, and has improved its defenses. Itazane can also be said to replace a row of individual honkozane or iyozane with a single steel plate or platy of leather. Since the armour is no longer flexible, gusoku has changed its method to make it easier to put on and take off by opening and closing the armour with a hinge. The simplified structure of the armour makes it easier to manufacture, allowing armor makers to focus on design and increasing the variety of armour looks. For example, the iron plate was designed to imitate the chest of an old man, and dō-maru style gusoku was made by attaching colored threads to the surface of the iron plate.[3][16] The type of gusoku, like the plate armour, in which the front and back dou are made from a single iron plate with a raised center and a V-shaped bottom, was called Nanban dou gusoku (Western type gusoku).[3] Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku ("bullet tested"),[17] allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms.[18]

Samurai during this period, especially those with a high rank, such as daimyo, owned a lot of armor. For example, it has been confirmed that Tokugawa Ieyasu owned dozens of armor, and they are now owned by Kunōzan Tōshō-gū, Nikkō Tōshō-gū, Kishū Tōshō-gū, Tokugawa Art Museum, The Tokugawa Museum, Tokyo National Museum, etc.[19][20][21]

The era of warfare called the Sengoku period (1467-1615)[22] ended when a united Japan entered the peaceful Edo period (1603-1868). Although samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status, traditional armours were no longer necessary for battle. For this reason, in the Edo period, armour in the style of the revival of the medieval period, incorporating gorgeous ō-yoroi and dō-maru designs, became popular.[23]

During the Edo period, lightweight, portable, and secret hidden armours became popular, since personal protection was still needed. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, and peasant revolts all required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armour jacket) and armoured sleeves, as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing.[24] Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armour) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane).[25]

Armour continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji era) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armour happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion.[26]

Construction

Construction of samurai armour, Source Wendelin Boeheim Leipzig 1890:
1. Cuirass - dō (胴(仏胴))
2. Fauld - kusazuri (草摺)
3. Cuisse - haidate (佩楯)
4. Poleyn - tateage (立挙)
5. Greaves - suneate (臑当(篠臑当))
6. Sabaton - kōgake (甲懸)
7. Spaulders - sode (袖(当世袖))
8. Vambrace - kote (籠手(篠籠手))
9. Gauntlets - tekkō (手甲(摘手甲))
10. Helm - kabuto (兜(日根野形頭形兜))
11. Badge (helmet) - kasa-jirushi (笠印)
12. Forehead plate - mabisashi (眉庇)
13. Lame - fukikaeshi (吹返)
14. Neck guard - shikoro (しころ(日根野しころ))
15. Crest (here: water buffalo horns) - wakidate (立物(水牛の脇立))
16. Crest (here: sun disk) - maedate (立物(日輪の前立))
17. Faceplate - menpō or mempō (面頬(目の下頬))
18. Badge (shoulder) - sode-jirushi (垂)
19. Bevor - yodare-kake (襟廻)

Japanese armour was generally constructed from many small iron (tetsu) and/or leather (nerigawa) scales (kozane) and/or plates (ita-mono), connected to each other by rivets and macramé cords (odoshi) made from leather and/or braided silk, and/or chain armour (kusari). Noble families had silk cords made in specific patterns and colors of silk thread. Many of these cords were constructed of well over 100 strands of silk. Making these special silk cords could take many months of steady work, just to complete enough for one suit of armour.[27]

These armour plates were usually attached to a cloth or leather backing. Japanese armour was designed to be as lightweight as possible as the samurai had many tasks including riding a horse and archery in addition to swordsmanship. The armour was usually brightly lacquered to protect against the harsh Japanese climate. Chain armour (kusari) was also used to construct individual armour pieces and full suits of kusari were even used.[28]

Individual armour parts

The itazane-structured dou (cuirass), the quirky designs of kabuto (helmet) and mengu (face guard), are typical features of the gusoku armour. Azuchi–Momoyama period, 16th-17th century, Suntory Museum of Art

A full suit of traditional Samurai armour could include the following items:

Auxiliary armours

Clothing worn with Japanese armour

This is a replica of jinbaori with a Mount Fuji design that was worn by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 16th century. early–mid-19th century, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Auxiliary items worn with Japanese armour

Types

Pre-samurai armour

Kozane-gusoku

A Kozane-gusoku armour in exposition.

Kozane dou (dō) gusoku, are samurai armours with a lamellar cuirass constructed from individual scales (kozane), old fashioned armours used before the introduction of firearms in Japanese warfare (pre-Sengoku styles).[29][30]

Tosei-gusoku

Tosei dou (dō) gusoku the so-called "modern armours" made from iron plates (ita-mono)[31] instead of individual scales (kozane). Tosei-gusoku became prominent starting in the 1500s due to the advent of fire arms, new fighting tactics and the need for additional protection.[16][32]

Other types

Individual samurai armor parts

Rating of Japanese armors

At present, by the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, important armors of high historical value are designated as Important Cultural Properties (Jūyō Bunkazai, 重要文化財), and special armors among them are designated as National Treasures (Kokuhō, 国宝). The armors designated as cultural properties based on the law of 1930, which was already abolished, have the rank next to Important Cultural Properties as Important Art Object (Jūyō Bijutsuhin, 重要美術品).[35]

The Association for the Research and Preservation of Japanese Helmets and Armor (ja:日本甲冑武具研究保存会, Nihon Katchu Bugu Kenkyu Hozon Kai), a general incorporated association, rates high-value armors in five grades. In order of rank, they are, from highest to lowest, Juyo Bunka Shiryo (重要文化資料, Important cultural article), Koshu Tokubetsu Kicho Shiryo (甲種特別貴重資料, Especially precious article first grade), Tokubetsu Kicho Shiryo (特別貴重資料, Especially precious article.), Kicho Shiryo (貴重資料, Precious article), Hozon Shiryo (保存資料, Article worth preserving).[36]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Farris, William Wayne (1998). Sacred Texts and Buried Treasures: Issues in the Historical Archaeology of Ancient Japan. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press. p. 75. ISBN 0824820304. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b c 式正の鎧・大鎧 Costume Museum
  3. ^ a b c d e 日本の甲冑 Costume Museum
  4. ^ Yorio Fujimoto, "神社と神様がよーくわかる本" p.65. Shuwa System Co., Ltd. ISBN 978-4798040721
  5. ^ "Oyamazumi-jinja Shrine – Japan's Most Extensive Samurai Treasury". Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  6. ^ Kasuga-taisha Museum
  7. ^ 五月人形と鯉のぼりの由来 (in Japanese). Nagoya Japanese Sword Museum Nagoya Touken World. Archived from the original on 4 February 2023. Retrieved 4 February 2023.
  8. ^ 五月人形の基礎知識 (in Japanese). Nagoya Japanese Sword Museum Nagoya Touken World. Archived from the original on 4 February 2023. Retrieved 4 February 2023.
  9. ^ 米競売、江戸時代の甲冑5千万円/過去最高額で落札. The Shikoku Shimbun. October 24, 2009
  10. ^ An Illustrated Guide to Samurai History and Culture: From the Age of Musashi to Contemporary Pop Culture. Foreword by Alexander Bennett. North Clarendon, Vermont: Tuttle Publishing. 2022. p. 47. ISBN 978-4-8053-1659-7.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  11. ^ "Classic examples of Japanese armor - From ancient foot soldiers to 19th century Samurai". thevintagenews. 2016-12-22. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  12. ^ Robinson, H. Russell (2013). Oriental Armour. Courier Corporation. p. 173. ISBN 9780486174921. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  13. ^ 胴丸・腹当・腹巻. Nagoya Japanese Sword Museum Nagoya Touken World.
  14. ^ a b 甲冑の歴史(南北朝時代~室町時代) Nagoya Japanese Sword Museum Nagoya Touken World.
  15. ^ Lidin, Olof G. (2003). Tanegashima - The Arrival of Europe in Japan. Routledge. ISBN 9781135788711. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  16. ^ a b Sinclaire, Clive (2004). Samurai: The Weapons and Spirit of the Japanese Warrior (1st Lyons Press ed.). Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot Press. p. 32. ISBN 1592287204. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  17. ^ Absolon, Trevor; Thatcher, David (2011). Samurai Armour: The Watanabe Art Museum, Samurai Armour Collection. Victoria, B.C.: Toraba Samurai Art. p. 78. ISBN 9780986761508. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  18. ^ 南蛮胴具足 附 兜・籠手・佩楯・臑当. Funabashi City. 21 February 2016
  19. ^ 久能山東照宮 主な収蔵品
  20. ^ 大徳川展 作品リスト 東京国立博物館
  21. ^ 色々糸威二枚胴具足
  22. ^ Umasy, N. (n.d.). Sengoku Jidai. Map and Timeline. https://history-maps.com/story/Sengoku-Jidai
  23. ^ 甲冑に見る江戸時代展5 武士と武人の甲冑像 Fukuoka City Museum
  24. ^ Ratti, Oscar; Westbrook, Adele (1991). Secrets of the Samurai; A Survey of the Martial Arts of Feudal Japan (1st pbk. ed.). Rutland, Vt.: C.E. Tuttle Co. p. 196. ISBN 0804816840. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  25. ^ Cunningham, Don; Hashimoto, Rich (2004). Taiho-Jutsu: Law and Order in the Age of the Samurai (1st ed.). Boston: Tuttle Pub. p. 45. ISBN 0804835365. Retrieved 2016-03-13. samurai chain-mail undergarments.
  26. ^ Sinclaire, Clive (2004). Samurai: The Weapons and Spirit of the Japanese Warrior (1st Lyons Press ed.). Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot Press. p. 49. ISBN 1592287204. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  27. ^ George Cameron Stone (2 July 1999). A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: In All Countries and in All Times. Courier Dover Publications. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-486-40726-5. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  28. ^ George Cameron Stone (2 July 1999). A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: In All Countries and in All Times. Courier Dover Publications. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-486-40726-5. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
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  30. ^ Bryant, Anthony J.; McBride, Angus (1991). Early Samurai: 200-1500 AD. London: Osprey. p. 47. ISBN 1855321319. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  31. ^ Robinson, H. Russell (2002). Oriental Armor. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. p. 190. ISBN 0486418189. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  32. ^ Deal, William E. (2005). Handbook to Life in Medieval and Early Modern Japan. New York NY: Facts On File. p. 171. ISBN 0816056226. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  33. ^ a b Stone, George Cameron; LaRocca, Donald J. (1999). A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: in All Countries and in All Times. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. p. 70. ISBN 0486407268. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  34. ^ Ian Bottomley & A.P. Hopson "Arms and Armor of the Samurai: The History of Weaponry in Ancient Japan" pp.88, 91
  35. ^ 甲冑の鑑定(格付け) (in Japanese). Nagoya Touken Museum Touken World. Archived from the original on 3 December 2022. Retrieved 3 December 2022.
  36. ^ 甲冑の鑑定(格付け) (in Japanese). Nagoya Touken Museum Touken World. Archived from the original on 3 December 2022. Retrieved 3 December 2022.