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New yoroi acquisition


drl
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After many months of study, assisted in large part by members of this forum, I completed the acquisition of this yoroi set.  Many thanks to the wonderful John Masutatsu for advice refining the armor arrangement for display.

 

Suggestions and comments are welcome.  I'll post papers of the mento and kabuto below.

 

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Papers and labeled silk bags for each part (the bags are very thin and many were falling apart).

 

The appraisals say the kabuto was made by Myochin Yoshihisa, and the menpo was made by Myochin Nobuiye.  The appraisals are dated 1704, and those two Myochin smiths according to Kozan worked 1504-1554 (Nobuiye) and 1532-1554 (Yoshihisa).

 

 

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Congratulations, a very nice armor David!


The appraiser (seemingly “宗介”) has picked out the oldest smith’s recorded with that names, “吉久“ and “信家”. 
That said, a Myōchin has papered the work of two Myōchin craftsman, you know ;-)

These origami, as the whole Myōchin genealogy, is to be taken with a grain of salt. What I’m trying to say is, the attribution is rather questionable!

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1 minute ago, uwe said:

Congratulations, a very nice armor David!


The appraiser (seemingly “宗介”) has picked out the oldest smith’s recorded with that names, “吉久“ and “信家”. 
That said, a Myōchin has papered the work of two Myōchin craftsman, you know ;-)

These origami, as the whole Myōchin genealogy, is to be taken with a grain of salt. What I’m trying to say is, the attribution is rather questionable!


Thank you, Uwe. I agree and have read several similar caveats from others (Abelson, Kozan, etc). I did see works in Kozan very similar to the hachi and menpo that Kozan’s book attributed to Myochin (in some cases with the same first name) but I only view the appraisal as evidence that the armor was created before 1703, the date of the appraisal, and that the Kabuto and menpo were likely made in the Myochin school.

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Since the kabuto lining is intact, I used an endoscope to take photos of the inside of the center segment of the hachi. I didn’t think much of the photos when I first reviewed them, thinking all I saw was scratches but no mei. But today I took a closer look and it seems like one of the photos, when rotated 180 degrees and enlarged, has “scratches” that match the mei on the kabuto appraisal (Yoshihisa)! See the attached. I feel like some kind of nerd Indiana Jones! 😂

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What are the characters below Yoshihisa?  Thank you, Uwe, for inspiring me to take a closer look at the endoscope photos. And thank you, Jon M., for guiding me on where to look for a mei.

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Here is the original endoscope photo that I almost disregarded in case anyone who can actually ready Japanese can decide the other “scratches”!  
 

The lighter golden stripe is not false color, but the actual image. It corresponds the underside of the front center plate of the kabuto. I’m not sure why it is so much lighter than the underside of the surrounding plates—I suspect the metal used on the front center plate decoration (which looks almost like heat-blued gun metal) created a different oxidation potential for this area of iron, which caused it to patina differently over the centuries.
 

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6 minutes ago, Bugyotsuji said:

Yes, upside down, but in the distance it does look like 吉久 and 作 (made by), but I do not see 正.

Is that character (which Google tells me means “positive” simply part of the appraiser’s level of confidence, but wouldn’t be part of the mei? I assumed the mei would read “made by Yoshihisa” but the appraiser added the “positive” character as a customary reflection of confidence. Then again, I have no Japanese language knowledge whatsoever so I could be way off here :)

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Well, I would have to say that is one possibility, David.

 

I would recommend getting the Shin Kacchushi Meikan by Sasama Yoshihiko. I believe there is an English version available; at least my Japanese version has a section on your particular smith Yoshihisa. (There were at least 15 Yoshihisa with these two 吉久 Kanji.)

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9 minutes ago, Bugyotsuji said:

Well, I would have to say that is one possibility, David.

 

I would recommend getting the Shin Kacchushi Meikan by Sasama Yoshihiko. I believe there is an English version available; at least my Japanese version has a section on your particular smith Yoshihisa. (There were at least 15 Yoshihisa with these two 吉久 Kanji.)

Thank you—I will do that if an English one is available.

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22 minutes ago, Bugyotsuji said:

Possibly someone has an English version and might post a photo of that page for you?

That would be excellent!

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7 hours ago, drl said:

I’m not sure why it is so much lighter than the underside of the surrounding plates—I suspect the metal used on the front center plate decoration (which looks almost like heat-blued gun metal) created a different oxidation potential for this area of iron, which caused it to patina differently over the centuries.

The interior of the Hachi appears to be lacquered black, the plates around the mei have been covered in gold leaf, this is a relatively common practice. Usually it is just a single plate, It would be worth checking the area for any other kanji.

 

Nice armour by the way. 

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Thanks, everyone for your helpful and educational comments. Uwe or anyone who has Shin Kacchushi Meikan: would it be possible to please share with me the photos of the kabuto and mei on pages 294 and 295?  I was not able to locate a copy available for sale.  Many thanks for your help.

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2 hours ago, Mark said:

quick look i saw

https://www.ebay.com/itm/274799531961

 

https://www.books-wasabi.com/product/413

 

i doubt there is an english translation unless someone did it themselves. you can probably use the illustrations to help

Thank you—I was told there was an English translation, but I suspect it might not include these photos. I guess I will get the Japanese version and use Google translate :)

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12 hours ago, Bugyotsuji said:

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This is p.294 of the J version.

 

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Thank you so much, Piers! 🙏 This will be helpful given that the copy I ordered from Japan will take a while to get here and no expedited shipping was offered.

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I took better endoscope photos of the hachi mei (shown below).  It definitely reads "Yoshihisa saku" (made by Yoshihisa).

 

According to the Shin Kacchushi Meikan, the Myochin Yoshihisas who signed in this simple way (Yoshihisa saku) include:

Myochin Yoshihisa (1532-1555 or 1528-1532, depending on the source)

Myochin Yoshihisa, Fukui, early Edo period, died 1675

 

Of course, in the end it is just engravings on a gilded iron stripe, and there is some uncertainty about the Myochin lineage and evidence of self-spun genealogy among the Myochin line.  

 

The fact that the seller apparently did not know (and did not advertise) that the inside of the hachi was signed given the intact ukebari makes this discovery particularly fun.

 

Thanks to everyone who helped piece together the above information.

 

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  • 1 month later...

I agree with Piers, the shachi looks really good. Although I have no proof, I came to the conclusion that the circular gilded rings / disc maedate that are so common and turn up on so many armours (but without the kuwagata as on yours) were the default maedate, added by the maker or the armour dealer, simply to fill the gap so to speak. The ultimate wearer chosing a more distictive maedate of their own. If this idea is true, your addition of a shachi is exactly what a samurai would have done when he first acquired the armour. The fact that so many armours still have these simple maedate is probably related to the tendancy to remove all traces of kamon, including breaking off the fukigayeshi, that happened when armours were sold to curio dealers in the Meiji era. Removing a distinctive maedate would reduce the possibility of identifying the seller of an armour when so many had to sell their treasures to buy food during the Meiji period.

Ian Bottomley

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