Object Title

Armour (ryo takahimo do tosei gusoku)

Armour (ryo takahimo do tosei gusoku)



Object Number



Purchased 1965.

Physical Description

The helmet is a 62 plate russet suji bachi of heichozan shape. The interior is gilded and is inscribed on the backplate with the signature. It contains a red cloth ukebari (lining). The peak and haraidate ressemble the work of the Saotome rather than the Myochin. Five stage gilded tehen kanamono, the lowest plate embossed and engraved with chrysanthemums. Attached is an o manju shikoro of three rows of hon kozane, black lacquered outside and gold lacquered inside. From the top they are laced in white, a reddish pink and green. On the hishinui ita is a row of uname toji and two rows of red cross-knots. The fukigayeshi are of scales prolonged from the top lame of the shikoro and gold lacquered and partly covered with stencilled leather. They carry a gilt mon in the form of a tied bunch of abalone meat in a hexagonal frame. At the rear of the skull is a ring agemaki no kan with a red agemaki bow suspended from it. The original helmet cord (shinobi no o) survives and is covered with red silk.
The mask is a russet iron reissei men with a bristle moustache but no teeth. There are hooks on the cheeks, nails and a tube on the chin. Attached is a black lacquered four lame plate tare, sugake laced in dark blue with uname toji and red cross-knots. In front of each ear are two embossed domes and a third below the ear. This mask does not belong to the rest of the armour.
The do is a black lacquered true scale ryo takahimo do, laced from the top downwards in white, pink and green. The kusazuri (thigh defences) are kiritsuke kozane with uname toji (variegated braid)and red cross-knots on the hishinui ita. The lower edge of each plate is piereced with a pair of holes that may originally have held a cord for tying them up. The upper plates are covered in leathers held in place by engraved gilt fukurin. The do is fitted with a collar of kikko covered in white Dutch cloth with red cross-knots and green sewing. There are small kiritsuke kozane kohire (small shoulder defences). The shoulder straps (watagami) are covered in matching stencilled leather.
The sode are of small size consisting of seven lames of kiritsuke kozane laced like the rest of the armour. On the rear edge is a ring to take a cord which ties to the agemaki on the rear of the do.
The kote are of shino gote style consisting of six columns of five black lacquered corrugated plates on the upper arm and five smooth splints on the fore-arm. These are sewn onto a foundation of brown brocade with a design of paving stones and flowers, that extend onto the shoulders and are fitted with arm pit guards lined with mail.
The haidate are of corrugated iron plates like the kote, laced together with blue silk, the lowest row with uname toji and red cross knots. These are sewn onto a foundation of brown brocade matching the kote, with borders of stencilled leather.
The suneate are of seven russet iron plates laced together in red silk forming a bishamon style shin guard. They are extended by knee guards of kikko work in three parts, of dark green dutch cloth with red cross-knots and gold thread sewing. These pieces are mounted on a pale blue and gold brocade, lined in blue and brown. Tying cords of a dark purple crepe.
The wakiita or armpit guard consists of a single large plate having the two side edges bent inwards to form a flange. Internally it is black lacquered, externally covered with stencilled leather. At the lower corners are gilt inome eyelets, the tying cords are very pale blue.


HelmetDepth395 mm
HelmetHeight330 mm
HelmetWeight3150 kg
HelmetWidth400 mm
WakiitaHeight210 mm
WakiitaWidth230 mm
MaskHeight235 mm
MaskWeight450 g
MaskWidth180 mm
SodeHeight275 mm
SodeWidth210 mm
SuneateHeight305 mm
SuneateWidth125 mm
HaidateHeight540 mm
HaidateWeight1750 g
HaidateWidth835 mm
DoHeight735 mm
DoWidth375 mm
KoteLength840 mm
KoteWeight1050 g
KoteWidth180 mm
ShinguardsWeight400 g

Inscriptions and Marks

Signed inside the rear plate of the helmet bowl 'Katsuie'.


Places Japan


Kei Kaneda Chappelear in Japanese Armor Makers for The Samurai includes two smiths called Katsuie amoungst the Myochin. The first, working in the first half of the 16th century lived in Kozuke, the second in Sagami about the same time. A drawing of a helmet supposedly by him is in Meiko Zukan. That is supposed to be dated 1536. A mask exists signed:'Joshu Shirai ju Katsuie'. It is also suggested that he signed:'Myochin Katsuie' but there is no evidence for this. It may be that this is an example of the Myochin adopting a Muromachi period smith and claiming him as one of their ancestors. The mempo, kote and haidate clearly do not belong to the rest. The suneate may belong.