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Restoration / Conservation Of A Kikko Kobakama


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#1 estcrh

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 08:48 AM

Years ago I purchased this kikko kobakama (short pants with kikko armor), these in the category of "yoroi kobakama" (armored short pants) which are a sub category of "yoroi hakama" (armored pants). These are a very rare item with only a few known examples. This particular kobakama was covered with a superb silk cloth (possibly imported from China) with lacquered nerigawa (rawhide) hexagon armor plates on the front. Obviously owed by someone of stature but over time the cloth was disintegrating and one kikko plate was missing. The price was quite high despite the condition but I decided to buy it and figure out what to do with it at some later date.
 
Anthony Bryant had two examples of yoroi kobakama on his web site and I know of two others with one being a kikko kobakama, this pair is quite plain and the kikko armor is hidden between the cloth.
 
During 2013 I happened to run into Japanese armor restorer Robert Soanes of http://www.katchushi.com/ and we discussed our ideas of restoration verses conservation. I happened to mention my kobakama and Robert asked me to send him some pictures so he could tell me what he would do to bring it back as close as he could to its original condition without replacing all original material if possible.
 
On March 2014 I sent Robert some pictures and we went back and forth about what type of cloth would work best to replace the old cloth. Robert contacted his sources in  Japan and he send me several examples by mail.
 
We went back and forth about the type of cloth (real silk, synthetic, cotton etc.) and the design.......as close as possible to the original or something completely different.
 
I sent the kobakama to Robert in Jan 2016 so he could examine it and determine for sure what work needed to be done.
 
Robert found that all of the kikko armor needed to be removed and restitched on top of the new brocade but he would able to save the everything original apart from the odoshi-ito for the leg ties, two belt supports and the mokko-gata silk loop in the center of the belt .The original silk lining, the hemp core, the chirimen silk waist tie, all the doeskin and trims and the Fusegumi could all be saved. 
 
Finally around Feb 2016 we settled on a cotton/ silk mix with a small gold bat design The woven gold thread that makes up the bat design is real gold on paper thread. This style of fabric according to Robert is known as Saga Nishiki. It was devised in the late Edo period by Kashima Nabeshima, the daimyo of Saga. It took just over 50 meters of real silk thread to sew all the Kikko plates back! Five kikko needed to be replaced, Robert made and lacquered new ones and 4 meters of kiran fabric were used.
 
 When the work was completed and I finally had it back I could not believe the difference, everyone who sees it thinks it is completely new until I show them the wear on the remaining original parts. Below are images of other yoroi kobakama and the kobakama before and after images which simply can not accurately convey how good it looks now compared to before the work was done.
 
OTHER EXAMPLES
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BEFORE RESTORATION
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#2 estcrh

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 08:48 AM

DURING RESTORATION
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FINSHED
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#3 Geraint

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 09:21 AM

Wow!  Than you for sharing these and the process.

 

All the best


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Geraint

#4 estcrh

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 10:12 AM

Wow!  Than you for sharing these and the process.
 
All the best

Thanks Geraint, that is what forums are supposed to be about, openly sharing our accumulated knowledge with other people (except for the cost!!!) Here is a comparison view showing the before and after, hopefully it will last another couple of hundred years.
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#5 Shogun8

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 06:33 PM

Absolutely gorgeous! And fantastic work by Robert!

 

I'm really gaining a fuller appreciation for such overlooked pieces of a samurai's battle wardrobe.

 

Thanks for sharing, Eric.

 

John


John - Always learning.


#6 estcrh

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 11:11 AM

Absolutely gorgeous! And fantastic work by Robert!
 
I'm really gaining a fuller appreciation for such overlooked pieces of a samurai's battle wardrobe.
 
Thanks for sharing, Eric.
 
John

John, Robert has an incredible amount of patience, thats what it takes to do work like this besides years of experience.

Non traditional Japanese armor has not been appreciated as it should be in my opinion. The Japanese ability to armor just about any type of clothing is amazing, here are the other known yoroi hakama, very few seem to have survived although I am sure there are others hiding out unseen in various collections. The last two images are of the only known complete suits that include yoroi hakama.

 

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