Samurai
US $407
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Samurai Armour
Papers – Washi, Chiyogami, metallic, Optix
700 x 500 mm Framed size
What is it?
The samurai were an elite military class of soldiers and officials in Japan originating around the end of the 8th century and remaining until the end of the Edo period in 1868. Samurai armour changed over the centuries in some details and materials but remained similar in design.
Made from black-lacquered iron plates tied together, the armour was flexible, allowing free movement. The armoured skirt, called a kusazuri, shields the thighs, while the arm coverings are made of chain mail with silk. The helmet, or kabuto, with its moustache, was designed to strike fear into the enemy.
History
Samurai means ‘one who serves’, and members of the samurai caste followed a strict code of conduct known as bushido, or ‘the way of the warrior’. Wearing the correct armour and carrying the right weapons were vital aspects of being a samurai. Japanese armour was designed to be as lightweight as possible to enable horse riding and archery in addition to swordsmanship.
In the 16th century, Japan began trading with Europe and the Samurai acquired European types of armour, which they modified and combined with domestic armour.
A politician and former Samurai Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 16th century persuaded warring groups of Samurai to live peacefully. He convinced them to use diplomacy rather than fighting to achieve peace. After this point the samurai no longer had such an important role. 
Samurai still wore armour, but they were seen as spiritual guides rather than warriors. The bushido was now seen as a code for living a moral and spiritual life.
When the Emperor regained power in the Meiji Restoration of 1868, he began to issue laws to reduce the power and status of the samurai class. They were still required to deal with civil unrest but were no longer permitted to carry swords in public and wore a lightweight and sometimes hidden armour.
Design
The main body of the armour is made from a series of plates, little oblong-shaped pieces of steel linked by strips of leather and covered with layers of lacquer. 
The helmet was designed with empty holders on either side to accommodate a front crest or helm, and a hair pommel. The face mask was often decorated with ugly features to terrify the enemy and extra protection was provided by a neck curtain of jointed metal, and shoulder guards. Thigh guards and calf guards were a combination of chain mail and plates.
 
Underneath his armour the Samurai would wear a one-piece baggy garment, a kimono on top of that, and loose pants.
 


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