Object Title

Cuirass (ryu takahimo do)

Cuirass (ryu takahimo do)



Object Number



Acquired from the Leeds Corporation, 1967.

Physical Description

This do is of very unusual construction. Both the front and back are built up from four plates: A black lacquered main plate to which are laced additional plates covered in leather having a brown reticulated surface. At the waist, are two plates that meet at the front centre and rise up in curves to meet the sides. Along the edge of these plates is an applied border formed from two heavy iron wires twisted together and lacquered brown. The muneita has its lower edge shaped to descend to a central point, the wire edging continuing into two opposing volutes. The plates are close sugake laced with white silk. The back is essentially the same construction with the upper plate continuing over the shoulders to form the watagami. Around the neck opening the plate is flanged upwards to form a low collar. The whole of the interior is lacquered gold
On the front are two shibuichi rings decorated with a lotus design, the agemaki ring on the back being similar. The kohaze are of transparent horn, of mokko shape typical of those used in Kaga.
Laced to a belt tied to the do are the gessan of 7 sections, each of five plates. All of the plates have waved upper edges and are kebiki laced in white, the lowest plate in each section having a row of red crossknots.


Weight: The weight of the cuirass (on its stand) is 9.45 kg

Inscriptions and Marks



Places Japan


According to Dr T. Orikasa who has searched the Maeda documents in Kanazawa, several Haruta smiths were asked to live in Kaga and make armour for the family. They recruited a local who was the grandson of a Korean armourer brought over by Hideyoshi and it was he who started the style. he used the name Unkai Mitsunao. On his death subsequent smiths used the Unkai name but were not strictly entitled to. In Brirmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a do, helmet and sleeves from an armour made by the same hand as this. It has a slight medial ridge and is decorated by an embossed shishi in iron. Inside the do a panel has been cut out of the lacquer and signed 'Myochin Munesuke saku' and the date 1730 and covered with gold leaf. This spurious signature is an excellent example of the way the Myochin appropriated other work as their own. See also XXVIA.214 for another example of a Myochin fake.