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A yoroi armor-do in rough shape but I like its style. Please share any thoughts and insights.

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Right after my first nihonto purchase I foolishly thought I'd be happy with just the one sword. So with my first sword I hopped on ebay and started looking up Japanese antiques to perhaps create a little display.

 

I stumbled upon the armors and put in an offer of $250 for this armor which they accepted (I didn't think they would) but it was also like $105 shipping. So in total I'm probably in it for something like $380 after tax. I know nothing about this market; am I in the hole on this piece? If yes I'm OK with it.

 

Since then it has sat in a box for many months as I ended up taking a dive into nihonto purchasing a few more blades and I'm finally about to create that display.

 

Wondering if anyone can share any knowledge on this armor. I thank you in advance for any responses I receive.

 

Perhaps possible age? Just pulled up the email receipt from when I purchased it and the title was Mogami Dou of Yoroi: Edo.

 

Anything I should look for on it? Also wondering if off the pictures theres any part I should do immediate repairs on? Is there suggested cleaning/repair items/products to use?

 

I'm guessing this is a somewhat standard low end armor and in semi-rough shape. Im also guessing like nihonto buying a "fixer upper" ends up being more expensive to get in shape than just buying a nicer piece. Want to keep its flaws but "stabalize" it.

 

Thanks again for any responses! Also I put it on and it actually fits me really well!

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Not sure why some photos showed up sidways. Took a screenshot of my own photo, attached that file and it seemed to fix it.

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Well, it's not perfect, but it's not bad and at that price who is complaining? I've seen a lot worse, and compared to them this one is in relatively good condition.

 

Bide your time and collect the accessories for it, and there will be years of fun ahead.  :thumbsup:

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Adam,

 

When I read the first few lines of your post, I was almost afraid to see what you got for your $380. You actually did very well, IMHO. It is indeed a mogami dō, which are not common and yours is much better than most examples that I see. Yours is ubu and looks to be from the early Edo period, perhaps even late Momoyama. Well done!

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Wow, excellent. Thank you both for your responses. Interesting to learn its older than I thought and somewhat less common. I actually thought the condition was going to be identified as "quite bad" and I'd get some consoling or scolding for a foolish newbie purchase. So this is good news so far.

 

Also just for documentation sake mogami do is: Mōgami dou (dō) - five-plate, four hinge (go mai) chest armours with solid lames which are laced with sugake odoshi instead of being riveted.

 

Ubu in nihonto I believe means unshortened or "original state", what does it mean in the armor world? Original state/size as well?

 

I'm guessing now since its mogami that if one of those sugake odoshi break the whole thing can fall apart and to repair would be quite a process. Noticed there is one "string" half split already in the front.

 

Also, what do I use to clean it? Its got so many parts. The cloth..the laquer..and the exposed metal portions. I guess looking for suggestions on what to do with it to help it. Googling isn't very helpful with this.

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Piers, want to get a somewhat matching menpo and go from there. I could see completing it becoming a side quest for me. Might be fun to kind of "build" a set.

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Adam,  Well done in being seduced to the Dark Side by acquiring some armour. What you have bought is a nuinobe dou, that is a form of two section dou laced in the sugake style - that is the plates are theoretically held together with paired lacings  [a mogami dou is also laced in sugake but is in five sections with four small individual hinges on each horizontal row of plates]. I say theoretically because in reality the plates are really held together with leather thongs hidden under the lacing. The parts under the arms that are flopping loose would be held by similar ties. You have some lacquer problems, and it would not be a bad plan to consolidate any loose flakes of lacquer that are still in position with an adhesive. As an ex museum curator I am supposed to say the adhesive should be reversible, but since you wont want to reverse it, superglue will be fine - just work a drop under the edge of each loose flake and press it back into place until it hardens - any excess that gets in the wrong place can be removed with acetone.

Ian Bottomley

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Hi Adam,

 

Ian is absolutely right, the dō is of course a nuinobe dō, my eyes strayed to the other details of the dō like the muneita, waki-ita and oshitsuke-ita and I completely ignored the fact that this dō does not have the most important characteristic of the mogami type - the 4 hinges and 5 sections. Brain freeze! That's what you get when you're trying to send 3 emails, answering texts and Messenger and browsing NMB at the same time! Still, a nice example of a nuinobe dō. Apologies for my hasty and careless assessment and Ian - thanks for not jumping all over me!

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What dō ever (I have my own opinion in this case), the additional plate connecting both parts is a bit strange in my eyes....

Furthermore, not a bad purchase for the first time, Adam! Some TLC and fixing the loosen parts of the lacquer (like Ian suggested) would be enough for the time being. 
If you like to clean it, use damp (not wet) wool cloth, but be careful that no moisture gets on the iron or under the urushi. First, try without a solvent.

In addition, prevent the red rust doing its job.....that’s it!

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Ian, thank you very much for that information. I will do the super glue laquer fix and perhaps a choji oil wipe down on the exposed metal portions (?). I do want to figure out how to secure the lose part under the arm as it seems to affect the structure of the armor.

 

John, appreciate your assessment as by explaining it I got to learn as well! Also,the dealer got it wrong too and they seem to specialize in these types of things.

 

Uwe, just purchased a wool cloth per your suggestion and ill give it a good clean.

 

After seeing how much yoroi stands are I am just going to build one. I'm going to use this claw foot table as a base. Cut a square hole in the top to stick a post down and make the top of a yoroi stand and see how it goes. I think it will turn out pretty sleek.

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Uwe,  I have seen this extra plate idea once before. It was used when the owner of the armour became too fat for it to fit properly. I have also seen a dou where the original hinge had been replaced by a very wide one for the same reason. It happens to most of us as we get older.

 

John,  No worries, I have made enough mistake - in fact I knew that a sugake laced ni mai dou had a particular name but I couldn't for the life of me think what it was. In the end I looked it up in H. Russell-Robinson's book on Oriental Armour - nuinobe dou - of course it is. I'm getting senile.

 

Ian Bottomley

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Adam wrote:

> I'm going to use this claw foot table as a base. Cut a square hole in the top to stick a post

 

Are you sure that claw-foot table isn't a good vintage or antique piece in its own right???

 

BaZZa.

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I'm getting senile.

 

Ian Bottomley

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, these kind of mistakes seem to be happening more often with me lately, Ian!

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Ian, interesting that its got essentially an extender plate. Either its owner got bigger or it was just a standard issued piece and its last user was a bit bigger. I'm not a big guy (5'10 and 158 lbs) and without that extender it wouldn't fit me.

 

I wonder if armor hinges and their dimensions were standardized or if youd have to make the extender plate to specifically match the armor.

 

Bazza, the table does have some age but I'm getting it for $25 off Facebook marketplace so it can't be that great. If it seems really nice when I pick it up this evening ill take off the original top and make a new top for it. That way I could always reassemble the table to its original state.

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Unfortunately, these kind of mistakes seem to be happening more often with me lately, Ian!

 

Heads up......????

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Uwe,  I have seen this extra plate idea once before. It was used when the owner of the armour became too fat for it to fit properly. I have also seen a dou where the original hinge had been replaced by a very wide one for the same reason. It happens to most of us as we get older.......

 

 

Ian Bottomley

I never came across such a feature before. Learning never ends....????

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Ian, interesting that its got essentially an extender plate. Either its owner got bigger or it was just a standard issued piece and its last user was a bit bigger. I'm not a big guy (5'10 and 158 lbs) and without that extender it wouldn't fit me.

 

I wonder if armor hinges and their dimensions were standardized or if youd have to make the extender plate to specifically match the armor.

 

Bazza, the table does have some age but I'm getting it for $25 off Facebook marketplace so it can't be that great. If it seems really nice when I pick it up this evening ill take off the original top and make a new top for it. That way I could always reassemble the table to its original state.

You have to remember, even at 5’ 8” and 158#, you are a giant compared to Samurai of the era.

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I have also been looking for a menpo to add to this suit of armor and the armor stand i am building that is nearly completed. I think I am going to purchase this menpo. I have 1 day and 12 hours to make the decision on this one as I have an open counter with deadline on it. So its a brown laquered menpo from the edo period titled as "Tetsuji Kurourushinuri Resei MENPO Chain Tare".

 

Has some age damage including some breaks and chips in the laquer and a little missing piece off an ear due to what looks like rust. The chainmail tare looks to be correctly linked as they did and possibly aged to the period. Its almost artistic how they linked the chainmail. I like the accent lines, the mouth shape, the teeth, the hair color and the tare style.

 

So its not a perfect piece but its affordable and I do really like its look. I slightly prefer sleeker noses with strong lines over than the "bulbus" style but this one still works for me.

 

I can't really tell but the mustache may be a replacement. Anyone here have any observations/advice on it? It would be about $800 after everything.

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Well, 

this honest menpo has suffered somewhat in the past. Nothing that can’t be restored.....
At this point the problem of displaying it properly, will be the the small plate on the bottom, where the tare would be fastened. It’s almost rotten away in the middle section.

Always a problem to say something during pending sales!

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Uwe, its appreciated and why I asked, its ebay and not from a member. Opinions/observations while purchasing is when they are most valuable rather than after for a newbie.

 

Yeah, I noticed that the whole mid section of holes/metal that fastens to the tare is gone and turned to dust. Would have to assume whats left of it isn't in the best shape as well. Matches the armor condition wise. Both are poor creatures.

 

Does the hair look replaced to you? Looks newer to me. Also wonder if the tare is original. I looked up how they connected chainmail and this matches the edo styles but may be easily reproduced these days...I have no idea.

 

How common were chainmail tares? I've read accounts of it but haven't seen other examples like this one which might not be a good thing. Saw others with chainmail over cloth like this one: https://www.aoijapan.com/menpo-mumei-unsigned/

 

I also like this menpo but its fully made of wood; a kind of folk armor perhaps: https://www.aoijapan.com/menpo-mumei-unsigned-2/

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You are right Adam, the parts matching condition wise... :)

The mustache could well be an replacement, but it’s hard to spot, because on this kind of masks (probably Haruta school), the hair was attached with lacquer to the body of the mask rather then through drilled holes. On the other hand, that would cost something and makes no sense, considering the general condition of the menpo.

In terms of the gusari-tare, I think the right way to fasten it to a mask, is shown in the picture from “aoi”. But I’ve to go back to my books for confirmation. The chain mail might be “fusa-gusari” or “futaye-gusari”, pics are too blurry.....

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Uwe, please let me know if you find anything about the chainmail tare. You can tell the menpo has a very different tare hole attachment system than the menpo with chainmail+cloth. This one has many smaller holes punched in while the other menpo chainmail+cloth have fewer larger holes. So that possibly weighs in to this being originally designed to connect straight to the double layer chainmail.

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Stylistic, the chainmail tare does not fit with the splendid lacquer of the menpo.

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Luc, it does look an odd pairing. I can't find other examples to really compare if this kind of "style" has been done with more "style". Personally, I actually prefer this double layer of chainmail over the chainmail+cloth variation. Just reminds me too much of a baby bib.

 

I also have to wonder how effective this double chainmail is compared to traditional tare and chainmail+cloth. Also wonder if it has any benefits to something such as movement during running/battle.

 

Once I have the menpo in hand ill take some close ups of the chainmail to better illustrate but their technique for linking is quite artistic.

 

Im still a bit torn on its design but the more I look at it, the more I like it. Might be buyee bias.

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Got the menpo. Happy with the purchase, the chainmail has officially grown on me. Next up is finish the stand and combine it with the armor. Ill post finished pictures since I like how the yoroi stand design will come out. Heres photos of the "Tetsuji Kurourushinuri Resei MENPO Chain Tare Japan Original Edo Armor Antique" menpo.

 

Read the mustache style can represent the samurai, his personality, make youthful warriors appear older and even how many battles he fought. Wonder what a mustache like this says.

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Congrats Adam!

Step by step you’re sliding to the “dark side”...  :glee:

 

On a more serious note, you indeed have two different types of gusari, “fusa + futaye”. I’m still not convinced that the tare is original to the men, but haven’t looked for other examples by now......

(The large number of holes can also point towards an former tare, laced in kebiki!)

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Uwe, yeah, I'm still not convinced about the tare being original either. I did think the hole size/layout pointed to it being the original tare (or chainmail like it) due to how the holes are. Also I am convinced the chainmails are also quite old and of period.

 

However, if there is a tare string version that uses small holes of that size/layout to fasten to the menpo, than that nullifies all proofs the little holes provide for me. I'd have to end with a possibly but probably not. (I've seen photos of laced tares with more holes but I haven't been able to see the size of them).

 

I also haven't been able to find another example like this menpo/tare combo which to me is not a good thing.

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Adam,

 

I think you did very well with this menpo. Yes it has condition issues but as Uwe says it's a good, honest menpo, I think of the Iwai school which is one of my personal favourites. Don't know if the tare is original, but here's an image of a hanbo I have that has an original chain mail tare. One difference that I notice is that the holes of your menpo are located in the middle of the mounting plate whereas on mine the holes are near the bottom edge. The mail of your tare definitely shows some age in keeping with the age of the menpo and your menpo is definitely earlier than my hanbo, which probably dates to the late Edo.

 

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John (great name, also my middle name),

 

Thank you so much for posting that! Especially since the chainmail was original to it. Finally gives me a comparative example! I knew there had to be others.

 

I bet if we measured the space between the holes to the bottom of the mounting plates they would be nearly identical to mine. The holes on mine also look identical to the size and spacing of your hanbo.

 

Really cool piece John.

 

Uwe, the back layer of chainmail while more intricate also seems thinner while the top layer is made with thicker links. Thats probably characteristic of the two styles you mentioned.

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Adam,

the difference is, on futaye-gusari the connecting links are winded twice!

 

Well spotted, John!

I also think that the positioning of the holes might be crucial...

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