Early yasurime bori menpo
Dimensions

Mask 12.5 x 16 x 13 cm

With guard 25 cm high

Weight

415 grams

Materials

Iron, urushi, leather, silk

Origin

Japan

Dating

Momoyama to early Edo period

(Circa 1568-1650)

Provenance

From a Dutch private collection

Price €6250, -

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Description

The menpō (面頬) is the face protection of the samurai, often shaped as a menacing face worn under the helmet; kabutō. Originally the masks were made with inseparable noses, but starting the Tenshō period (1573-1592) detachable noses became more popular. 

The real hair mustaches often seen on such masks also only started to become in vogue around the Tenshō period. It was said in 1799 that the mustache impaired the downward glance, hence in 16th century wartime the painted mustaches had been preferred.1

Notes
1. Sakabira Kōzan; Chūkokatchū Seisakuben (The Manufacture of Armor and Helmets in 16th Century Japan.) Edo, 1800. Translation by T. Wakameda, revised by A.J. Koop, Hogitarō Inada in 1912. Again revised by H. Russel Robinson in 1962. Charles E. Tuttle Company Inc. Rutland, Vermont: Tokyo, Japan. 1963. Pages 67-72.

 

This example

A russet iron one-piece ryubu menpō; a special kind of mask with a calm, noble expression and no teeth.

It is made of five pieces that were forge-welded together: nose, ears, face and underside of chin. Of elegant, rather smooth form. Its surface is entirely decorated with deep lines, yasurime. On the chin they form a v-pattern.

The absence of a detachable nose is an early feature, and so this mask most likely dates from the late 16th century to the early 17th.

It comes with neck protection consisting of a stenciled leather top and four tiers of lacquered leather laced with orange silk.

 

Condition

Some corrosion under the nose. Possibly remains of a paint or lacquer, or simple from perspiration. Some cracks in the lacquer of the leather neck guard.

Yasurime bori Ryubu menpo
Yasurime bori Ryubu menpo
Yasurime bori Ryubu menpo
Yasurime bori Ryubu menpo
Yasurime bori Ryubu menpo
Yasurime bori Ryubu menpo
Yasurime bori Ryubu menpo
Yasurime bori Ryubu menpo
Yasurime bori Ryubu menpo
Yasurime bori Ryubu menpo

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