Object Title

Armour (tosei gusoku)

Armour (tosei gusoku)



Object Number



Transferred from Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, no. E4165, 1966.

Physical Description

Is a black lacquered ichi mai fuse bachi of shiinome nari shape. At the apex is a very small hole without a tehen kanamono. On the front is a gold lacquered browplate, its lower edge shaped to the eyes, embossed with eyebrows that are black lacquered. The bowl is fitted with tsunamono for a kashira date, wakidate and a maedate (broken). The kashira date takes the form of a short black lacquered cylinder of wood to the top of which is fixed a luxurious wig of white yak hair. The wakidate are tall buffalo horns of wood, gilt with black lacquered tips, that can be locked in place by a pin.
Fitted to the koshimaki is a three lame gold lacquered o manju shikoro of kiritsuke iyozane, their heads of ya hazu shape. This, like the remainder of the armour is laced in medium red colour (aka iro). The fukigayeshi are leather covered, with an engraved gilt rim, and are fitted with menuki in the form of coiled dragons in place of the original mon.
Is a black lacquered ressei men made in one piece, with teeth and wrinkles but no moustache. It is fitted with a two lame tare like the shikoro attached to the mask by a band of leather.
Is a hishinui ni mai do of textured gold lacquer fastened with red silk cross-knots. The upper plates are covered with leathers like the fukigayeshi. Two plates in the front tateage are of kiritsuke kozane kebiki laced in red. There are gilt kanamono at the front, sides and back that are pierced and engraved but not embossed, of peonies. On the back there was formally an agemaki. The do is fitted with a collar and kohire of kikko covered with red woollen cloth with white cross-knots and sewing. Attached to the lower edge are gessan of seven sections of kiritsuke iyozane, gold lacquered and red laced like the shikoro.
Are of one major plate with a subsidary plate sugake laced to the bottom edge. The main plate is decorated with a demon's face, shikame, in built-up lacquer in imitation of embossing.
Are of unconventional construction having 5 rows of flat gold lacquered scales with rounded tops fastened with red cross-knots covering the upper arms. Over the bend of the arm is conventional mail with matsuba and a hiji gane, whilst the forearms are defended by seven cross-knotted shino, each with a mid rib. The tekko and thumb piece are of gold lacquered metal in the conventional manner. This metalwork is sewn onto a damask that shows some purple colour in places but is now mainly brown.
Are of five rows of flat, gold lacquered scales laced to each other with red silk. They are sewn onto a conventional fabric backing of the same fabric as the sleeves reinforced with dark blue leather.
Are of gold lacquered hide of tsutsu form comprising three main plates fastened together with butterfly shaped hinges, to which is laced a knee defense of three plates hinged together. On the front of the knee guard is lacquered, in slightly brighter gold, a mon in the form of three tachibana mon in a circle.


Weight: The weight of the helmet without its crests is 1.8 kg and 2.75 kg with them. The weight of the kote are 0.9 kg each, the weight of the haidate is 0.95 kg, the weight of the suneate are 0.45 kg each.

Inscriptions and Marks



Places Japan

Bibliographic References

Dorling Kindersley, Weapon. A visual history of arms & armour, Dorling Kindersley Ltd, London, 2006, p. 172-3


The bulk of this armour appears to belong. The helmet, mask and do are of fine quality. The sode probably do not belong and were probably laced to match. Similarly, the fabrics are not of high quality and were probably dyed in the Meiji period.