Royal Armouries

James I Japanese Gift Armour (domaru)

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A Japanese samurai helmet that was a gift to James I of England

A Japanese samurai helmet that was a gift to James I of England

  • A Japanese samurai helmet that was a gift to James I of England

    A Japanese samurai helmet that was a gift to James I of England

Date: 1570 | Object number: XXVIA.1

A gift of armour by Iwai Yozaemon from Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada to King James I of England, VI of Scotland via Captain John Saris of the East India Company in 1613. It was possibly originally made for Takeda Katsuyori and modified for presentation about 1610. On display in the Tower by at least 1662.

Signed in lacquer on the inside of the neckguard and upper plate of the breastplate ‘Nambu Iwai Yozaemon saku’.

Ian Bottomley identified the mon of the Takeda in the armour’s lacquered decoration, and suggested (after his 2004 article) that it may have belonged to Takeda Katsuyori, defeated at Nagashino in 1575.

The armour box was made in 1972 by Hiromichi Miura, who undertook the complete conservation and relacing of the armour. All the missing elements of the surviving parts of the armour were replaced, including all the gilt kanemono; the kanemono which are now of plain copper are original.

Vital Statistics

helmet height 22.0 cm (8.7 in)
helmet width 36.5 cm (14.4 in)
helmet depth 36.5 cm (14.4 in)
helmet weight 2,750 g (6 lb 1 oz)
mempo height 20.5 cm (8.1 in)
mempo width 17.5 cm (6.9 in)
mempo depth 13.5 cm (5.3 in)
mempo weight 440 g (1 lb)
cuirass height (waist to shoulder) 44.0 cm (17.4 in)
cuirass width 34.2 cm (13.5 in)
cuirass weight 4,840 g (10 lb 10 oz)
sode dimensions 40.0 × 36.0 cm (15.8 × 14.2 in)
right sode weight 1,770 g (3 lb 14 oz)
left sode weight 1,760 g (3 lb 14 oz)
suneate height 33.5 cm (13.2 in)
right suneate weight 560 g (1 lb 5 oz)
left suneate weight 580 g (1 lb 5 oz)
height from tassets to helmet 105.4 cm (41.5 in)
height from tassets to top of crest 114.3 cm (45 in)
total weight 12.7 kg (28 lb 1 oz)

Publications

J. Hewitt, Official catalogue of the Tower Armouries, London, 1859, no. xv.472, p.113
Viscount Dillon, Illustrated guide to the Armouries, London, 1910, no. xv.604, p.37
C.J. ffoulkes, Inventory and survey of the Armouries of the Tower of London, London, 1916, vol. I, no. II.127, pp.139-40
C. Beard, ‘Some Tower armour pedigrees’, Connoisseur, 87, 1931, pp.162-3
P. Hammond, Royal Armouries official guide, London, 1986, p.63
O. Impey, ‘Japan and the west: the first hundred and fifty years’, The Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, London, 12-22 June 1991, pp.12-19, fig. 3
I. Bottomley, ‘Diplomatic gifts of arms and armour between Japan and Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries’, Arms and Armour, 1.1, 2004, pp.5-24
Shogun, the life of lord Tokugawa Ieyasu, Leeds, 2005, no. 49

James I Japanese Gift Armour (domaru)

Description

胴丸銘南部岩井与左衛門, 桃山時代

The helmet (suji kabuto) is composed of twelve plates lacquered black and embossed to simulate twenty two plates, all separated by gilt copper ribs. The front plate has three ribs, while the rear plate has two and a loop (kasajirushi no kan) holding a red ? (agemaki). It is fitted with a neck guard (shikoro) of three iron plates cut and lacquered to simulate lamellae. It is laced with red silk above and purple below. The lower plates are laced with two rows of red cross-laces and one of woodpecker braid throughout the armour. The upper plate of the shikoro is extended into modern turn-backs (fukigayeshi) lacquered black and decorated with modern gilt ? (kanemono). At the peak is a modern fitting retaining gilt copper ?( kuwagata).

The half mask (mempo) has a fixed nose piece and a small throat guard of four iron plates laced with purple silk. The teeth are gilt, and there is small, brown, modern moustache and beard.

The cuirass is composed of iron lamellae laced horizontally with leather, lacquered black, then laced vertically with red and purple silk braid, The upper breast, back and side plates are of solid iron lacquered black with gold badges (ken-hanabishi). The do is fitted with six ?(kusazuri) formed of lacquered leather plates and laced in purple silk. It is decorated with the karabana mon, the petals separated with ken blades, in gold lacquer, of the Takeda family.

The shoulder defences (o-sode) are each made of seven rows of laced lamellae, the upper three of iron, the lower four of leather. The upper plates (kamuri ita) are lacquered black and decorated with flowers in gold lacquer, with a binding of blue leather stencilled with seven-leaved grass in white. The shin defences (suneate) are each made of three plates lacquered black and connected by hinges. The upper plates are laced to each other and to the lower plates with purple silk.

Exhibitions

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, ‘People, markets and power: the Dutch encounter with Asia, 1600-1950’, 10 October 2002-10 February 2003
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, ‘Encounters: the meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800’, 23 September 2004-2 January 2005
Royal Armouries, Leeds, ‘Shogun, the life of Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu’, 5 June- 30 August 2005
Jamestown Yorktown Foundation, ‘The World in 1607’, 2007

A gift of armour by Iwai Yozaemon from Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada to King James I of England, VI of Scotland via Captain John Saris of the East India Company in 1613. It was possibly originally made for Takeda Katsuyori and modified for presentation about 1610. On display in the Tower by at least 1662.

Signed in lacquer on the inside of the neckguard and upper plate of the breastplate ‘Nambu Iwai Yozaemon saku’.

Ian Bottomley identified the mon of the Takeda in the armour’s lacquered decoration, and suggested (after his 2004 article) that it may have belonged to Takeda Katsuyori, defeated at Nagashino in 1575.

The armour box was made in 1972 by Hiromichi Miura, who undertook the complete conservation and relacing of the armour. All the missing elements of the surviving parts of the armour were replaced, including all the gilt kanemono; the kanemono which are now of plain copper are original.

Vital Statistics

helmet height 22.0 cm (8.7 in)
helmet width 36.5 cm (14.4 in)
helmet depth 36.5 cm (14.4 in)
helmet weight 2,750 g (6 lb 1 oz)
mempo height 20.5 cm (8.1 in)
mempo width 17.5 cm (6.9 in)
mempo depth 13.5 cm (5.3 in)
mempo weight 440 g (1 lb)
cuirass height (waist to shoulder) 44.0 cm (17.4 in)
cuirass width 34.2 cm (13.5 in)
cuirass weight 4,840 g (10 lb 10 oz)
sode dimensions 40.0 × 36.0 cm (15.8 × 14.2 in)
right sode weight 1,770 g (3 lb 14 oz)
left sode weight 1,760 g (3 lb 14 oz)
suneate height 33.5 cm (13.2 in)
right suneate weight 560 g (1 lb 5 oz)
left suneate weight 580 g (1 lb 5 oz)
height from tassets to helmet 105.4 cm (41.5 in)
height from tassets to top of crest 114.3 cm (45 in)
total weight 12.7 kg (28 lb 1 oz)

Publications

J. Hewitt, Official catalogue of the Tower Armouries, London, 1859, no. xv.472, p.113
Viscount Dillon, Illustrated guide to the Armouries, London, 1910, no. xv.604, p.37
C.J. ffoulkes, Inventory and survey of the Armouries of the Tower of London, London, 1916, vol. I, no. II.127, pp.139-40
C. Beard, ‘Some Tower armour pedigrees’, Connoisseur, 87, 1931, pp.162-3
P. Hammond, Royal Armouries official guide, London, 1986, p.63
O. Impey, ‘Japan and the west: the first hundred and fifty years’, The Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, London, 12-22 June 1991, pp.12-19, fig. 3
I. Bottomley, ‘Diplomatic gifts of arms and armour between Japan and Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries’, Arms and Armour, 1.1, 2004, pp.5-24
Shogun, the life of lord Tokugawa Ieyasu, Leeds, 2005, no. 49

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