armors are probably the most overlooked part of the samurai legend. When someone
talks about the samurai, they find the samurai swords more exciting and
awe-inspiring than anything else. And whoever imagines the Samurai dressed in anything, but
traditional clothing made of black or colourful cloth.
Yet, samurai armors are quite easily as
interesting and exotic as the samurai swords and just as neccessary. For they are not
just exotic, but a very important part of the Samurai's repertoire
in the battlefield.
Much like the swords, the samurai armors, too, started out simple and almost crude in form.
But gradually the armor, worn by the warriors,
evolved over time with changing needs and with the coming of newer methods of
technologies. Heavy armors got lighter and the crude designs received artistic
facelifts that protected better.
The first real venture of the Japanese in making armor for the samurai resulted in heavy
"clothing" made of solid metal plates. While the armor did offer protection from arrows,
the drawbacks were plenty. Owing to their heaviness and
inflexibility, the warrior's maneuvering ability was drastically reduced, something
that was very essential in the battlefield. History notes that it was
around the time of 1181-1185, during the Gempei War, that the first
Japanese lamellar armor was made in Japan. Known as the yoroi, it weighed
around 60lb and was to be worn by the mounted samurai. It consisted of heavy
helmets and huge shoulder guards.
typical yoroi would consist of the following parts:
Do - This was the name given to the part of
the armor that protected the whole upper-body.
Sode - These were the suspended metal
plates that protected the upper-arm and the shoulder. There were rings
attached to the sode, through which passed silk cords which were tied
together at the back of the armor in a decorative plait known as an
agemaki. The cords were also protected using leather or metal guards so that
they wouldn't snap during battle.
Kabuto - This was the helmet, formed by a
number of plates all held together by cone-shaped bolts. Often, the helmet
was made in a decorative and artistic fashion and the different colors and
type of helmet would be indicative of the rank of the samurai or the group
he belonged to. The helmet has a tehen, a small hole right at its crown,
through which protrudes out the samurai's long
Shikoro - This was an essential part of the
samurai armor. Protecting vulnerable parts of the body such as the back of
the head, the neck and the cheekbone, this was made of thick plates attached
to the bowl of the helmet. Also, the top four plates of the Shikoro,
could be inverted to form the fukigaeshi. This fukigaeshi
could protect the the shikoros cords from getting sliced vertically.
Mabisashi - The visor of the helmet, this
was designed to have a cone like protrusion that would shield the samurai
against downward strikes of the enemy.
mentioned earlier in the article, the yoroi was only used by the
horse-mounted samurai. Foot soldiers required much more flexibility
and hence wore a much lighter variety of armor known as the Do Maru. This
armor was designed so that it closely fitted the body of the foot soldier and
provided far more maneuverability. Later on, the mounted samurai too adopted the
DoMaru type of armors in place of the yoroi.
Though designed for protection during war, skilled craftsman made the armors
a subject to showcase their artistic skills during peaceful periods of no war.
The helmets, especially, became more and more elaborate and are considered
excellent examples of artwork. Even to this day, interested
collectors and appreciators of art, are enthusiastic about purchasing antique
samurai armor suits.
'Dress to Kill: Japanese Arms and Armor' The News Record The Cincinnati Art Museum presented an Art After Dark series entitled “Dress to Kill: Japanese Arms and Armor” Friday, featuring a variety of Japanese artwork and samurai culture from the 16th century through the 19th century. The 130 warrior-related ...
BC learns the ways of the samurai The Watchdog For the second half of Miyuchi's presentation, she showed replicas of katchu, or samurai armor. She placed traditional samurai garb onto a student, and spoke about each item as she put them on him. The katchu she demonstrated included shin guards ...
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Samurai Armor as a Fashion Statement Cincinnati CityBeat (blog) Child's suit of armor at Cincinnati Art MuseumPhoto: Hailey BollingerWith a title like Dressed to Kill: Japanese Arms & Armor, you might think this is purely a warlike exhibit, aiming for throngs of young (and older) men rushing to the Cincinnati Art ...
Cartoons meet culture at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles exhibit FOX 61 "The Ninja Turtles meet samurai warriors," said Julia Courtney, curator at the Springfield Museums. The museum has combined Japanese Armor and treasured wood block prints with the pop art of Ninja Turtle memorabilia and paintings. The Teenage Mutant ...
Tokyo studio fulfills every samurai-to-be's dreams Nikkei Asian Review ... in full armor and topknot just so? A Tokyo studio can fulfill your dream, at least for a day, and make a video of it with the assistance of a professional fight scene choreographer. The Samurai Sword Training plan is offered by Sengoku Photo Studio ...
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