A JAPANESE COMPOSITE ARMOUR, GUSOKU LATE MOMOYAMA/EARLY EDO, 17TH CENTURY The iron sujibachi kabuto helmet with 62 riveted plates and raised ridges, fitted with a five-tier tehen kanamoto (pierced circular finial), the fukigaeshi (turnbacks) and riveted mabizashi (visor) with stencilled leather; the maedate (frontal decoration) applied with silver decoration shaped as scrolling clouds; the four-tier shikoro (helmet neckguard) with blue and yellow kebiki-odoshi lacing and the reverse lacquered in red; signed Saotome Iehisa to the inside at the back of the bowl; with an iron menpo (face mask), a four-lane yodarekake (throat guard) and a three-tier nodawara (lower neck protector); the iron do (chest armour) embossed with a ferocious dragon emerging from crashing waves under two chrysanthemum-shaped gilt rings, the back with a further strip of stencilled leather; the sode (shoulder guards) laced in white and green with a circular design, both with a painted dragon on the lower part and with fittings decorated with a fan-shaped mon; with shino-suneate (shin guards) of lacquered iron; together with a lacquered wood nagayari (long spear); the spear 220cm. Provenance: formerly in the collection of Sir Henry Norman (1858-1939) on display at Ramster Hall, Surrey. Saotome Iehisa lived in the Hitachi province (today in the Ibaraki Prefecture, Honshu) and he is sometimes listed as the ninth generation of the Saotome family of armour makers.

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