FR  EN  
galerie dutta art ancien Chine, Japon

Galerie Dutta art ancien Chine Japon, Thailande

Art ancien Chine Japon

Rue des Etuves 21, 1201 Genève
Tel. +41 22 738 64 22
Fax. +41 22 738 57 31

KAWARI KABUTO (Dutta-10214)



A extremely rare and unique bird-shaped iron sabiji helmet

Momoyama - early Edo period (1590-1600),

Embossed and rusted iron

Height: 35.0 cm,

width : 39.4 cm,

length: 33.3 cm

The mythical phoenix (hôô,) is regarded as being immortal, and this highly peculiarly shaped helmet is based on a so-called tori-kabuto, lit. “bird helmet,” which is used as a headdress at the bugaku Imperial court dance and music. The bugaku´s tori-kabuto on the other hand probably goes back to a mandarin duck oshidori, which – due to its beautiful plumage – is thought to represent the phoenix among birds native to Japan. The helmet consists of embossed iron plates which combine to form a forward curve in the momonari manner. This classical shape is reminiscent of Buddhist altar equipment. The plates are connected in such a manner that a central ridge-line emerges, and the tehen section, which protrudes slightly to the front, is skilfully made to represent a bird with an opened beak. Below, one finds the eyes, and the circumferential iron plates represent the bird’s beautiful collar feathers as well as the wings, which run back as the shikoro. Among bugaku dances, the Taihei-raku, Manzai-raku, the Shûfû-raku, and other variations are known to have used tori-kabuto as headdresses. At those bugaku, dancers and instrumentalists wore such tori-kabuto which were covered with gorgeous fabrics. Also the “Genji-monogatari” tells of dance performances called “Karyôbin” and “Kochô”, in which children are dressed up as mythical birds respectively butterflies. The dancers are similar to nymphs or fairies (tennyo,) flying up to the Heavens, and this explains the peaceful and harmonious sense of tori-kabuto used in such bugaku. There is a tori-kabutonari helmet possessed by the Ôyamazumi-jinja (Ehime Prefecture) which is dated to the Kamakura period. This helmet reflects very well those warriors´ yearnings for the gorgeous aristocratic culture of the Heian period, slipping this peculiar elegance into their arms and armour. Despite originating in the late Momoyama - early Edo period, this helmet tries to capture that earlier atmosphere. It displays the personal style of the Momoyama period, a time when warriors became aware of their own personality and tried to express this in their clothes and armour. During the Momoyama period, the traditional and hitherto predominant hoshi- and suji-kabuto were expanded by helmets with eboshi, tôkanmuri (Chinese crowns), zukin (hood) shapes, but interpreted as wakitate and/or maedate crests; in addition many other variations such as animals, plants and graceful ornaments appeared. The tori-kabutonari is the rarest style among all those more or less grotesque (igyô) helmet shapes.*1 This piece is made of very thin, forged iron plates, connected with a small rim along the joint which serves as additional reinforcement. The result is a complex and beautifully modelled helmet which is, to a certain extent, reminiscent of modern art. The surface is lacquered to a black and tasteful rusted appearance (sabiji-urushi), but the beak section on the central front area is lacquered red, which is very impressive. The eyes are inlayed with brass. The mabisashi protrudes sharply to the front, an approach reminiscent of a classical specimen from antiquity. The area around the koshimaki no ita is covered with a headband-like brass plate which is decorated with embossed chrysanthemum ornaments (kiku-za). The brass elements were brightly polished and shone with a light gold hue when the helmet was made. The curious and marvellous helmet construction, together with this showy ornamentation, surely made this piece an eye catcher and the figure of a mounted military commander swinging his saihai baton comes to mind. A masterly helmet, this is not only eccentric but also reflects the sophistication and aesthetic sensibilities of the warriors of that era. *1 In the “Genpei-seisui-ki” chapter, “Norimori-yume Tadamasa Tameyoshi no koto,” we read of a certain “tobi-kabuto” (lit., referring to the bird, “kite-shaped helmet.”) It is thought that this tobi-kabuto is of about the same style as the tori-kabutonari helmet. The “Genpei-seisui-ki” was compiled from the late Kamakura to the subsequent Nanbokuchô period. There is also a tori-kabutonari helmet with tiger-fur applications from the early Edo period which is said to come from the property of Oda Nobunaga.

- some photos with the well made iron Menpo signed : Myochin MUNEAKIRA from the mid-Edo period (1730) (see also n.10243)

price on application