A Twenty-Four Plate Helmet by Myōchin Munemasa Nihojiro Hoshi Kabuto, Edo Period, c. 1750

3731 v2
3731 3
3731 2 v2

Item ref: 3731

  • Japan
  • Iron, copper, gilding, leather and silk
  • 35 cm / 13.8 x 48 cm / 18.9 in


John Anderson Collection (Anderson, 1968, 41 – 2, no. 31)
Private collection, Europe

Hand-signed Myōchin Munemasa 明珍宗正

This exquisite helmet is by Myōchin Munemasa who was the son of the 24th Myōchin master, Munesuke, and was designated the 25th master upon the death of his father about 1735. Like his father, he assumed the title ‘premier armour expert of Japan’ and issued certificates (kiwame) for armours, attributing them or their components to historical master armourers.

An armour in the collection of the Portland Art Museum (no. 2012.120) includes attributions dated 1749 by Munemasa of several of its parts to ancient masters. In addition, he made armour of high quality himself, mainly in the medieval style which had become popular among the feudal nobles in the 18th century. His short period as 25th master probably accounts for the rarity of signed works by this important armour maker and expert.

The helmet of the composite armour in the Worcester Art Museum (no. 1910.47.2) is closely comparable to the present.