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Another really rare armor, the kusari dou.


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This is the only picture I have ever seen of a kusari dou, maybe it should be called a kusari tatami dou as kusari is as easy to fold and is just as light weight and portable as any tatami armor. I found this photo ln very old book.

 

kusaridou.jpg

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Eric, Please excuse my late reply to this thread. Kusari dou are indeed rare for the simple reason they were not very effective. Whilst mail will stop a cut, it does nothing to stop the force of the blow unless, as was usual in those areas where mail was worn as the primary defence, the mail is backed by padding or something solid to dissapate the energy of a blow. There is an Indian mail armour surviving in the Armouries collection complete with its original 17th / 18th century padding which is at least 1" thick - it must have been hell to wear in that country's climate. My guess is that this kuzari dou has the mail backed by nerigawa or multi-layers of hemp. In the Watanabe Museum in Tottori is a mail covered helmet which has a nerigawa shell underneath. There is also the famous mail covered zunari kabuto with the fan maedate in which the mail is simply a decorative cover over a gold lacquered regular helmet. The Watanabe also has the most amazing kuzari gusoku in which the dou is really a long mail coat with large, gold lacquered pierced plates at intervals. The best bit is the helmet which has short horns attached, the basic bowl being covered by a slightly loose blue cloth through holes in which the horns protrude. It looks rather like a cow with a pair of underpants on its head.

Ian Bottomley

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Ian, I would not mind being able to see a kusari dou first hand to see exactly how they were constructed and how thick they were. I can not find any information about them at all and only ran into this picture in an old book by accident as it did not come up under any search.

 

I think this is the strange kabuto you mentioned from the Watanabe Museum, someone must have had a sense of humor to make it and to wear it.

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Ian, maybe those armors from the Watanabe Collection that you mentioned are some were in these pictures, I have never seen so many samurai armors in one place. I heard they were housed in an old bowling alley!

 

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tottori3.jpg

 

tottori2.jpg

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Eric, Now that Dr Watanabe has passed on, I had heard they had tidied up the place. From your photos it is evidently true. When I went there were some 400+ armours in massed groups arranged on tiers like football crowds. There was a massed area reserved for ashigaru armours, the posher ones packed into the long cases and then the rest! In another place was a forest of yari, umajirushi, walls covered in jingasa and so much more. I spent two whole days there and probably saw only a fraction. I didn't manage to penetrate the basement where I believe there was quite a lot that had yet to be unpacked. I took a lot of photos which I lent to someone who wished to study them and they were never returned. I still have images of soem of the pieces but not the overall impressions.

Ian Bottomley

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Ian, here is a link to a discussion on the collection, it was supposed to have been sold off, what a shame for Japan to loose such a large amount of their history, it would have made quite a good museum from what I hear. Your lucky to have been able to wander through there when you did...probably nothing left like that in the world anymore. http://www.toraba.com/forum/threads.asp ... 0943&pgt=1

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Eric, I'm impressed you could make any sense whatsoever of the discussion on that link. :? :? When I met with Dr. Watanabe he made it clear that he was well aware that his offspring might try to sell off the collection on his death. To prevent such an occurance he told me he had set up a trust to safeguard the collection. We shall have to see.

Ian

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Ouch, who are these cowboys messing around with the Watanabe Collection? :dunno:
Those "cowboys" would be ....."Some years ago Mr Toraba, ( Trevor Absolon owner of Toraba ), Fudo ( Dave Thacher a noted collector from England) and the famous Japanese armour-god historian "Jock" A P Hopson documented the very best of the Watanabe Collection in Tottori Japan."

 

I have not seen any samurai armor for sale that was said to have come from this collection so maybe its still in limbo? Unfortunately trusts can be broken.....from what I hear a book will eventually be published with images of the best pieces from this collection.

 

 

 

 

tottori7.jpg

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Grey,

I do believe it was an attempt albeit silly attempt at humour.

... Ron Watson

Ron, thats the Monty Python influence I think, nothing good came from that!....I know those guys all have the deepest respect for the subject, I think there was a bit of depression over the condition of the collection that led to a sort of fatalistic view.

 

All the armours were mixed up and then catalogued in the 70's by idiots. Since this was conducted by the local expert the armours had to be returned for storage in the correct way, yep the wrong way. Such are the Japanese that they are unwilling to think out of the box and loose control.

 

anyway f*** that bullshit, here's a photo of me abusing one of the fantastic kabuto they had. i went down to sushi bar with it on one lunch time, no white gloves or gas mask either! The collection had a death sentence on it. I'll upload some photo's of one beautiful armour that they ruined forever due to bad storage.

 

messin.jpg

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All, Two books are due for release. The first will be a selection of helmets from the collection, the second being about things like jinbaori and accessories. Out of my respect for the late Dr Watanabe and for the kindness shown to me by Mrs Funjino, who was curator when I visited, I have written a few lines about the collection for the cover of the book. The first volume is due out in Spring. I would also add that when I was there not only was everything was treated with the greatest respect, but the staff were very proud of the collection and overjoyed that someone was showing interest.

Ian Bottomley

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Uwe, Having the tekko button to the kote is not rare but is not common. I have seen a few armours made for archers and these usually have this feature. They also have the front part of the shikoro on the right hinged so that it can be swung back to allow the archer to draw the bowstring to the ear.

Ian Bottomley

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Thanks a lot Ian. Never heard from such armors and "hinged" shikoro. Sounds interesting.

Although in case of my gusoku, I`m not sure if the sangu set belongs to the armor. What do you think?

Uwe

Uwe, all your armor is very nice and looks to be in good shape, it looks like the dou, menpo, sode and kabuto may be matched as the lacing and color of the armor plates is very similar, and the momonari kabuto and sode have fur edges, also the mons on the kabuto and dou if original and not added later are matched. It looks like the sode or shoulder guard and Kusazuri panels of the dou are made from kozane or scale armor plates..it it true individual scales? The shikoro or neck guard of the kabuto and the yodare-kake or throat guard of the menpo have a different type of armor than the sode, shikoro and Kusazuri, also the Kusazuri do not have the same fur edging of the sode and shikoro.

 

In a true matched set of armor with all original pieces all those parts would usually match. Just some things to look for in an armor. The sangu is the combination of the 3 pieces of extremity armor, the kote or arm protection, suneate or shin protection and haidate or thigh protection, they should all have the same cloth, and matching armor plates and chain armor ''kusari'' Since you have only the kote it is not possible to have a matched sangu. You should consider looking for a true sangu for your armor that matches the style of the armor you have.

 

Uwe, in my opinion your armor parts were not originally matching parts but at some point they were put together and made to look like they match, this would not be uncommon for unmatched armor parts to be restored at some point in their lives and assembled into a new suit of armor with similar characteristics. Unfortunately unscrupulous people also do this in modern times in order to fool unsuspecting people into thinking they are buying a matched set of armor. Of course I could be wrong, just my personal opinion. What were you told about the armor when you purchased it?

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Here is an example of matching armor, the sode, shikoro, Kusazuri, dou and yodare-kake are all of the same style and shape and the lacing is the same. It is still possible that the kabuto hachi or bowl is older and refitted with a matching shikoro, the same goes for the menpo, it to could be older and refitted with a matching yodare-kake. This was not uncommon in Japanese armor and the suit would still be considered to be a matching suit. A real true completely non restored matching suit of samurai armor is very rare. Most armor has been fixed and restored several times since it was made even if it still has all its original parts. People in general want to see and buy restored armor as the non restored armors usually look old and tired while the restored armors look shiny and colorful. I have seen people not recognize a non restored original matching armor and instead drool over a restored suit of armor that never really existed but instead was just put together with a lot of spare parts ( a composite armor) by a dealer or collector.

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Eric makes some very good points in his last few posts and for the most part I agree with him. The above example however is not a true matching set, the Suneate are mismatched and there have also been several repairs/additions made, including miss matched Egawa on the Fukigaeshi, the addition or replacement of one of the rings on the chest as well as other inconsistencies.

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The re-cycling of older elements into a new Japanese armour was perfectly normal and goes back a very long way. Two armours in the Royal Armouries show this clearly. One, given to King James I (and VI) by Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada, has been lacquered and laced to match but has the dou and sode of hon kozane whilst the shikoro and tare of the mask are kirritsuke kozane. The sode also are of much smaller scales and have different kanamono. The other armour, given to King Philip II of Spain and originally belonging to a member of the Shimazu family, is made up from old plates cut to new sizes from an older armour. I have also repaired a pair of o-sode made from the plates of an old dou. They even used the more curved plates from near the waist by cutting them in half and riveting them so that they were straighter. When you looked along the length you could see the double hump.

As Eric says, sangu should have the same fabric and the same edging, be it leather or braid. The best indication of matching of the laced parts is the takuboku ito around the edge. This material comes in so many colour combinations and the dyes fade at such different rates that it is virtually impossible to match them. Uwe's armour does not have fur around the bottom of the shikoro but a hair covering - you can see the cross-knots inside. I agree that the sode are associated. You can tell from the colour of the lacing and the lacquer as well as the fur. Apart from that it looks perfectly homogeneous and a nice tidy armour. Don't forget that many wore mixed armours, even the very wealthy. There is a painting of a Duke of Ferrara wearing parts of two armours - you wore what were comfortable and would work in battle. The famous armour of Kuroda Nagamasa, daimyo of Chikuzen, has a helmet that doesn't match (it is red lacquered whereas the rest is black), but wore it because it was given to him by Fukushima Masanori.

Ian Bottomley

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Thank you Eric and Ian,

I know that it is almost impossible to get an untouched matching armor. Like Ian pointed out, its because of the "re-cycling" of older parts especially kabuto.......apart from the efforts of present dealers to earn more money with "complete sets" :rant:

My sangu set is absolutely matching. Same fabric same kusari etc. What me leads to assume that the set is added, is the fact, that the kikko of suneate is different to the kikko of the do (watagami.....don`t know the right term for the "wings").

The sode seems to be kiritsuke kozane, like the do and the odoshi of both looks quite similar.......I know, the fur :doubt:

However I`m happy with my "shimazu clan member". :D

Uwe

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Uwe, Do not assume that different kikko means the sangu do not belong. I have an armour with two pair of suneate - one is a pair of bishamon suneate for riding and the other shino suneate for walking. Both have the same fabric, etc but the kikko are totally different. The bishamon pair match the kikko of the kohire and collar, dark blue Dutch cloth and pale blue sewing. The other pair have white Dutch cloth. Suneate in particular are often odd balls with armours. I have seen them sewn on different cloth even when the lacquer and stye matched. I assume it was because they often became soaked or very dirty and were just repaired.

Ian

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Ian,

that was new to me. I thought until now that matching kikko is one indicator for a "true gusoku". :thanks:

 

Eric,

kohire :idea: .....of course......I`m growing old. Is the collar not called manchira :?:

 

Uwe

Yes Ian had some good observations, I have not heard of samurai using an armor with a kabuto etc that did not match, that and the info of the suneate fabric and kikko is very helpfull, I have seen several armors that seemed to match except some small difference on the suneate, Ians explanation makes sense. As for "manchira", yes people do use this word to describe the padded shoulder neck guard but my research points to tate-eri for this small piece. Manchira are a form of armored vest much like a manju no wa. Here is a link to some pictures of manchira etc.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wakibiki

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