Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection

About - Samurai

Travel back in time and discover remarkable objects that illuminate the life, culture, and pageantry of the samurai, the revered and feared warriors of Japan. The Samurai Collection of Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller, one of the finest and most comprehensive collections in the world, presents a treasure trove of battle gear made for high-ranking warriors and daimyo (provincial governors) of the 14th through 19th centuries. The exhibition illustrates the evolution of samurai equipment through the centuries, featuring more than 140 objects of warrior regalia, with full suits of armor, helmets and face guards, weapons, horse trappings, and other battle gear.

During the centuries covered by the exhibition, warfare evolved from combat between small bands of equestrian archers to the clash of vast armies of infantry and cavalry equipped with swords, spears, and even matchlock guns. Arms and armor were needed in unprecedented quantities, and craftsmen responded with an astonishingly varied array of armor that was both functional and visually spectacular, a celebration of the warrior’s prowess. Even after 1615, when the Tokugawa military dictatorship brought an end to battle, samurai families continued to commission splendid arms and armor for ceremonial purposes. Because the social rank, income, and prestige of a samurai family were strictly determined by the battlefield valor of their ancestors, armor became ever more sumptuous as the embodiment of an elite warrior family’s heritage.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue, Art of Armor: Samurai Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection, with essays by leading Japanese samurai armor experts. Buy the catalogue.

Organized by The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas

Highlights - Samurai

Tengu tōsei gusoku armor

Kiyotoshi,  Munekiyo, Ryūsuiken, Japan, Late Edo period, 1854, © The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas. Photography: Brad Flowers.

Yokohagidō tōsei gusoku

Saotome Iyuenari (helmet) and Ichiguchi Yoshikata (mask)

Early to mid Edo period: 17th century (helmet); 18th century (mask and armor)

© The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas

Photography: Brad Flowers

Okegawadō tōsei gusoku

Late Momoyama to early Edo period: late 16th century (sashimono); early 17th century (armor)

© The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas

Photography: Brad Flowers

 

Eboshi Kabuto and menpō

Late Muromachi to Momoyama period: late 16th century

© The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas

Photography: Brad Flowers

Sujibachi Kabuto and menpō

Sadao of the Bamen school, living in Toyohara, Echizen province

Late Muromachi to Momoyama period: late 16th century

© The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas

Photography: Brad Flowers

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Unframed - Samurai

wHY's Design of Samurai: Japanese Armor
December 10, 2014

Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection, on view in the Resnick Pavilion through February 1, 2015, features an exhibition design by wHY, an interdisciplinary firm that focuses on "buildings (architecture), grounds (landscape environments), objects (products and material explorations), and ideas (design research and strategy)." wHY was able to address a number of these elements in their design of Samurai: they worked within the confines of a preexisting building, with its own predetermined floorplan and walls; they created a display that articulated the richness of samurai armor and objects from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller collection; and they had to support a narrative—through design—of nearly 600 years of samurai life, culture, and pageantry. I asked Kulapat Yantrasast, wHY's creative director, about his work on the installation…

Functional Art: Armor of the Samurai
December 1, 2014

For many, the word “samurai” conjures images of a stoic warrior, swift in battle, armed with his sword (katana), a powerful weapon of destruction. But essential to the samurai’s survival was his armor—battle regalia that did not sacrifice beauty for functionality.
In LACMA’s newest installment, Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection, viewers are invited to witness the evolution of Japanese armor from the 12th to the 19th century. As described by LACMA curator Robert T. Singer, the exhibition calls attention to “the fantasy, [and] humor of Japan’s art in a traditional, three-dimensional way.”