Object Title

Red laced armour (tosei gusoku)

Red laced armour (tosei gusoku)



Object Number



Helmet and Mempo found in the Oriental Armoury, 10 August 1992.numbered as XXVIA.247. The Do, Sode, Kote, Haidate, Suneate were found in New Armouries Attic, 7 July 1992, these were numbered formerly as XXVIA.223. Ownership unknown

Physical Description

26 plate hoshi maru bachi with 9 rows of rounded rivets per plate. The rivets are graded in size and positioned centrally between the suji. The front and back plates are devoid of rivets but fitted with iron igaki and iron shinodare, three in front and two at the back. At the back is a gilt ring, kasajirushi no kan. The tehen kanamono is in five stages, of kiku form, starting with a gilt plate, then shakudo, red copper and gilt again. The peak is of iron held by two round headed iron rivets and centrally, a gilt kiku byo that also holds an iron haraidate pierced with an inome on the front. Inside is a black lacquered iron ring fitted with the lining that is marked 'mai' (front) in red lacquer. The helmet cord is of fabric stuffed with wadding and originally covered with white chirimen silk. Fitted to the bowl is a five lame o manju shikoro of real scales with rounded tops lacquered gold and red laced. The hishinui ita is furnished with red hishinui and variegated uname toji. The fukigayeshi are prolonged from the top plate and have hishinui and uname toji along the outside edge. They are overlaid by a plate covered with shishi kosakura gawa, edged with tsumata gawa within an engraved silver fukurin. There is a gilt mon in the form of a Buddhist gong decorated with a central flower. The inside of the shikoro, including the lowest plate, is covered in brown smoked leather.
Accompanying the helmet is a maedate in the form of a shishi carved so that it facing the front, gold lacquered with touches of black and red, with glass eyes and a large flowing moveable tail. Unlike most crests, this is designed to fit over the haraidate rather than inside it. The body of the lion is hollowed and red lacquered inside.
The mempo is of 'old man' style (Okina men) with multiple wrinkles, moustache, imperial and beard, all in white hair, and no teeth. Externally the mask is of russet iron, the nose being a slightly different colour but belonging, the interior red lacquered. There are no ears, the rear edge being stepped forwards in that region. The tare is of three gold lacquered plates, sugake laced in red like the remainder of the armour.
Is a hishitoji ni mai do of great weight. The plates of the do are of considerable thickness, gold lacquered and modelled to look like scales. Because of the thickness, and the fact that a magnet shows that an iron plate exists in the construction, it is possible that these plates are composites of iron and rawhide under the lacquer coating. There are five rows in the nakagawa plus three plates and the mune ita in the front tateage. The mune ita and waki ita are covered with leather like the fukigayeshi but do not have a fukurin; instead there is a gold lacquered bead around the edges. There are two rings on the breast, both in gilt metal with the base shaped like the mon on the helmet. At the back is the base plate for a large agemaki ring in copper gilt covered in tight karakusa engraving; the ring itself is missing. On the black lacquered watagami are shoji ita pierced with a small inome. The kikko work collar is of dark blue woolen cloth with red cross-knots and outline sewing in gold thread. There is a green silk braid edging inside which is a very narrow red piping. Sewn to the collar is a frill of red and white chirimen sewn to the edge and the lining of brocade. Plate kohire lacquered to look like scales are fitted on hinges to the watagami. Internally the do is lined with gold lacquered leather. Tied to the do are two gyoyo of unusual design. The gyoyo proper are of waved outine and finished in gold lacquer. Their upper edges are hinged to a rectangular tube with a shaped upper end pierced with two holes. These appear to be designed to fit over the ends of the watagamiand have the takahimo pass through the holes to hold them in place. For some reason, they have not been fitted when the armour was last re-furbished. Attached by a dark leather belt to the base of the do are gessan, of round topped scales in seven sections, each of five plates. Like the shikoro, the gessan plates are covered on the inside with smoked leather.
The shoulder defences are of seven rows of gold lacquered and red laced hon kosane of more pointed shape than the other scales of the armour. The kanmuri ita is covered with leather and edged by an engraved silver fukurin. Internally the upper four plates are fitted with a lining of brocade, the lower plates being separately lined with smoked leather. There are three kanamono on the upper plate, fastened with rivets whose heads are the mon found elsewhere on the armour. To the rear edge of the fourth plate is fitted a kogai kanamono fastened by two mon headed rivets.
The arm defences are predominately of heavy riveted mail. At the top is a gold lacquered kanmuri ita in three parts joined by mail. To this is attached a section of very heavy black lacquered nanban kusari, with riveted links, that covers the outside of the arm. A gold lacquered hiji gane is worked into this mail over the elbow. Over the forearm, are seven gold lacquered plates joined by red cross-knots making the sleeves a variety of tsutsu gote. The same nanban kusari is fitted over the wrist region and between the gold lacquered tekko and the thumb pieces. Over the inside of the arm is conventional black lacquered Japanese style mail. On the tekko is a diamond shape reserve in the gold lacquer in which is painted in older gold lacquer the mon; clear indication that these sleeves were originally black lacquered and have been partially gilded to match this armour. The fabric is a dark brown coloured hemp stencilled with a dragon rondel motif in gold. A shaped section of fabric is laced to the sleeve to fit under the armpit but it is not armoured.
The thigh defence consists of two tapering sections of flat, square-topped gold lacquered scales laced with red silk. Each section consists of five rows, the lowest row having uname toji and cross-knots. These are sewn onto the same brown hemp fabric as the sleeves, edged with green silk braid with red piping and tsumata gawa, as elsewhere on the armour. The foundation fabric of this haidate is extended all around the scale covered section to form a large apron shape, pleated to the waist tie of pale blue / green chirimen. There is no provision for fastening the haidate behind the leg.
The greaves are built like the kote from panels of the heavy,black lacquered, riveted nanban kusari. There is a tateage for the knee of blue woolen cloth with kikko like the collar. The stirrup leather patch is of gilded leather, punched and partially lacquered with small flowers and foliage. This style of leather is normally found only on armour made in the province of Kaga.


Dimensions: The circumference of the bowl is 72 cm, the height of the bowl is 21 cm.The do is 52 cm high and measures 108 cm around the chest and 103 cm around the waist. The kote are 64 cm long whilst the sode are 29 cm long and 26 cm in width. The armoured section of the haidate is 24 cm long, 29.5 cm wide at the top tapering to 25.5 cm at the bottom. The suneate are 37 cm wide and measure 37 cm in hight, of which 31 cm is the armourered portion. Weight: The weight of the helmet is 3.2 kg. The weight of the do, on its stand, is 14.3 kg, the sode weigh 0.75 kg each, the left kote weighs 1.25 kg, the right kote weighs 1.3 kg, the left suneate weighs 0.6 kg and the right suneate weighs 0.65 kg.

Inscriptions and Marks

Inside the rear plate of the helmet is engraved the date. Eikyu 1st year 8 month a lucky day (1113).


Places Japan


The mon on this armour, a Buddhist gong bearing a small flower is illustrated in the 19th century mon book in the Leeds library as being used by the Kosuge family. This armour has evidently been made up from older pieces; the kote and sode being definitely recycled. A helmet signed by Miochin Kunitoshi, illustrated on p 167 of vol 3 of Nihon Katchu Meikan by Y. Sasama, has a very similar structure to this one with regard to the igaki and hoshi on the bowl. In the same volume, p 213, is a helmet by Nagamichi with a haraidate pierced by an inome. See Individual records for locations. XXVIA.247 a -Helmet, b-mask, c-Do, e-pair of Sode, f-pair of kote, g- haidate, h-suneate