Daimyo warriors at Musée Guimet

Pair of archer’s gloves (yugake) in Swede and gold threads, with the coat of arms of Tokugawa Yoshikatsu, mid 19 th century

This exhibition could be called, “How to impress the opponent with glamorous armors”, for the collection of 33 Daimyo war lord costumes at Musée Guimet are worthy of Christian Lacroix’s imagination and fashion styles even though they were made in 15th-19th century Japan. 

An armor from the Edo period in leather, thread and gold

The history of nobility in Japan was recorded by a French Jesuit missionary, Edmond Papinot in 1899, and the different armors shown here are each representative of a clan of Daimyos. they were used to enter the ancient capital of Edo and were worn with beautiful helmets. They arrived in Europe soon after the use of swords was cancelled in 1876 and Dutch tradesmen imported them for our greatest pleasure. Jean Christophe Charbonnier, a dealer specialized in the genre curated the show with Musée Guimet.

A helmet with an lacquer bow, 17-18 th century

The war lords were wearing the most elaborate armors in order to impress their opponents and they are always exhibited sitting down. Long after the feudal wars, each noble family would keep these as a symbol of their past splendor and show them in the entrance of their houses. They are made of (often gilt) leather, swade, galuchat, lacquer and iron or steel. The scenography in both buildings of the Musée Guimet and Hotel Heidelbach on avenue d’Iéna,  is spectacular especially in the rotunda where 11 armors are shown together. What is most impressive is that this art lasted for over four centuries!

The Takasu, Nabeshima Yoshishige, Maedaand Ogasawara families’s armors

(Until May 13, Daimyo warlords in Japan at Musée Guimet)

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