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galerie dutta art ancien Chine, Japon

Galerie Dutta art ancien Chine Japon, Thailande

Art ancien Chine Japon

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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 bird (hôô,) is regarded as being being immortal, and this highly peculiarily shaped helmet is based on a so-called tori-kabuto lit. „bird helmet“ which is used as headdress at the bugaku Imperial court dance and music. The bugaku´s tori-kabuto on the other hand goes probably back to a mandarin duck oshidori, which – due to its beautiful plumage – is thought to represent the phoenix among birds native in Japan. The helmet consists of embossed iron plates combined to a forward curved interpretation in momonari manner. This classical shape reminds even on Buddhist altar equipments. The plates are connected in 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 opened beak. Below, the eyes are applied, and the circumferential iron plates represent the bird´s beautiful collar feathers as well as the wings running 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 from dancing performances called “Karyôbin and „Kochô“, where childrens are dressed up as mythical birds respectively butterflies. The dances are similar to nymphs or fairies (tennyo,) flying up to the heavens, and so the peaceful and harmonious sense of tori-kabuto used in such bugaku can be grasped. There is a tori-kabutonari helmet in the possessions of the Ôyamazumi-jinja (Ehime Prefecture) which is dated into the Kamakura period. This helmet reflects very well the then warriors´ yearn for the gorgeous aristocratic culture of the Heian period, slipping this peculiar elegance in their arms and armour. Although from the late Momoyama - early Edo period, the helmet introduced here tries to capture this atmosphere. It displayes the personal style of the Momoyama period, a time, where the warriors became aware of their own personality and so tried to show this via their clothes and armours. During the Momoyama period, the traditional and so-far mainly used hoshi- and suji-kabuto were expanded by helmets with eboshi, tôkanmuri (Chinese crowns), zukin (hood) shapes, but – interpreted as wakitate and/or maedate crest – also many other variations like animals, plants, graceful ornaments appeared. The tori-kabutonari is the rarest interpretation 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 their joint which serves as additional reinforcement. The result is a complex and beautifully modelled helmet which reminds to a certain degree on 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 interpretation, which reminds on old and classical specimen. 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 shined light gold when the helmet was made. The curious and marvelous helmet construction and this additional showy ornamentation was surely an eyecatcher and the figure of a mounted military commander swinging his saihai baton comes to mind. A masterly helmet which is not only eccentric but reflects also the aesthetical sense and high degree of sophistication of the then warriors. *1 In the „Genpei-seisui-ki´s “chapter „Norimori-yume Tadamasa Tameyoshi no koto“ we read of a certain „tobi-kabuto“ lit. „kite-shaped [the bird] helmet“. It is thought that this tobi-kabuto is about of the same interpretation as the tori-kabutonari helmet. The „Genpei-seisui-ki“ was compiled from the late Kamakura to the subsequent Nanbokuchô period. There exists also a tori-kabutonari helmet with tiger-fur applications from the early Edo period which is said to come from the possessions of Oda Nobunaga. 
- Some photos with the well made iron Menpo signed : Myochin MUNEAKIRA of the mid-Edo period (1730) (see also n,10243)
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