Japanese master, Tetsu-Kurourushinuri Konito Sugakeodoshi Gomaido Gusoku

Japanese master


Tetsu-Kurourushinuri Konito Sugakeodoshi Gomaido Gusoku

Mid-Edo period


An impressive gomaido gusoku (五枚胴具足) from the Mid-Edo period which is made of black tetsu-kurourushinuri lacquer (黒鉄黒漆塗漆), with dark blue konito (紺糸) thread used to sew the plates together and to decorate the armor. The lacing is made of thick, twisted sugakeodoshi cord (縅緒), which is also dyed dark blue. The armor consists of five pieces: the kabuto (兜, helmet), the dō (胴, cuirass), the kote (小手, arm guards), the suneate (脛当, shin guards), and the haidate (股当, thigh guards).

The helmet is a momonari kabuto (桃形兜, peach-shaped helmet) inspired by European helmets and specifically built to deflect enemy bullets in combat. It is decorated with an impressive prominent black and red shell maedate and kamon (family crest) depicting two sails. It is said that the Sail Kamon was firstly given to the Nawa family by Emperor Godaigo, when they rescued the Emperor from Oki Island. Emperor Godaigo was exiled to Oki Island after his plot to overthrow the bakufu was revealed. It is an old kamon with a long history, and the same motifs are used in many families associated with them, with many variations in form.
The Kamon of the armor is distinctive in that it shows two sails within a circle, but it has not been sure which specific family used it. Taken together with maedate of a seashell, it would seem that the family was closely related to the sea and the Nawa family.

Protecting the face is a fierce ressei menpo (烈獅面頬) with a long and distinguished moustache. 

The cuirass is a dō, which covers the torso and abdomen. The kote are arm guards that cover the upper arms and forearms. The suneate are shin guards that cover the lower legs and feet. The haidate are thigh guards that cover the hips and thighs. They are made of several iron plates that are connected by sugakeodoshi lacing.

This significant armor has been awarded the Kosyu Tokubetsu Kicho Shiryo token from the Association for the Research and Preservation of Japanese Helmets and Armor which means “Especially Precious Cultural Article”. It is ranked as a second highest of a total of five rankings. 


Private collection, Japan
Private collection, Switzerland

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