Oni (ogre face) kawari kabuto (grotesque helmet) - ROM2012_12845_1


Oni (ogre face) kawari kabuto (grotesque helmet)

Medium:Wrought steel
Geography: Japan
Date: mid 19th century
Period: Edo period
20 x 27 x 23 cm
Object number: 914.7.124
Not on view
DescriptionThe helmet was regarded as the most significant and symbolic component of Japanese armour. It traditionally consisted of a low basin constructed of vertical iron plates riveted together, with a deep neck-guard and broad doeskin side-wings. High-ranking samurai added striking ornamental horns to their helmets as a display of authority. In the 16th century, helmets of unusual form, known as kawari-kabuto ("extraordinary helmets"), were developed as a means of the samurai's self-expression. Master armourers who learned their skills from generations before them created these stunning, intimidating and even humorous designs. The Myôchin family tradition of iron forging, for example, spanned many centuries. This is an elaborate example of the uchidashi, or repoussé technique mastered by Japanese armourers, this helmet was made from flat sheets of hand-forged iron or steel. Unusually shaped helmets, or those with striking ornaments, are called kawari-kabuto, or “extraordinary helmets,” which flourished in the 16th century but remained popular throughout the Edo period (1603 – 1868).
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