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Kawari kabuto

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  • Kawari kabuto

    I have had this helmet for over 50 years and it has been exposed elsewhere in the past, but it is so unique it won't hurt to give it another airing. Put simply it is a kawari kabuto that represents a head wearing a court cap of Chinese origin, a style of helmet known as a kanmuri kabuto. It differs from most in being almost flat, the more common shape having the raised portion at the back standing much higher like an air-scoop. The basic bowl is of russet iron, of heavy plates assembled in a similar way to a etchu zunari with the top plate overlapping the brow plate. Instead of a regular etchu mabezashi, the brow plate is shaped over the eyes and has a small peak riveted to it at right angles. The 'court cap' is has the upper plate embossed to represent pleats and is both riveted to the bowl, with flower shaped washers under the rivets, as well as being connected by a heavy iron tube that forms part of the iron tehen kanamono. The interior of the tehen kanamono is cut with bayonet slots for a kashira date that no longer survives, The present crests consist of a pair of gold lacquered kuwagata and wakidate of wood covered with e-gawa representing fukigayeshi. The helmet is completed with two shikoro, the outer one of black lacquered plates of hineno shape and an inner one of mail covered hemp cloth.

    Now for the oddity. Piercing the centre of the mabezashi is a rectangular hole bordered with a roped rim. Exactly below this the brow plate is pierced by a pair of holes now blocked with lacquer that seems to have one held a fitting, Behind the present brass tsunamoto is an unused brass stud. all of this can only mean that at some time the helmet was either fitted with an exceptionally large maedate that needed to be supported by having part of it passing through the mabezashi, or far more plausibly, it had a nasal bar similar to those fitted to Indo/Persian helmets. To my knowledge, this seems to be unique for a Japanese helmet. Clearly the nasal bar was not a success and has been removed. The flower shaped washers and general feel of the helmet suggests it was made by the Haruta and it shares some similarities to the styles of helmets made in Saiga. Clearly the present crests are Edo period, the bowl seems more likely to be late muromachi or Momoyama in Date.
    Last edited by Ian Bottomley; 08-27-2019, 10:29 AM.
    Ian Bottomley - UK

  • #2
    The classification as kawari kabuto is here really legit. something "grotesque" in the good sense of the word :différent general shape, and with very big strange wakidate. .and also high class /spectacular as a rare kabuto difficulties to made, and hachi shape construction. A very old and nice kawari kabuto.

    (ps:the kuwagata hide the kabuto.. only my opinion..)

    Laurent
    France
    Last edited by gui; 10-05-2019, 06:35 AM.

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    • #3
      Thank you Laurent. It is a helmet I have owned for over 50 years and I still love it.
      Ian
      Ian Bottomley - UK

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      • #4
        Ian, a very nice thing indeed.
        I see a kozunari, a Saiga and a Haruta in 1 and the same kabuto. a lot of influences! I once saw a similar kawari, probably worn by the same Kyushu based han.
        Luc Taelman -

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        • #5
          Gentlemen, I can't be sure of the exact construction near the tehen. So how many plates do you think to make this kawari kabuto ?

          Laurent
          France
          Last edited by gui; 10-05-2019, 06:35 AM.

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          • #6
            I think it is absolutely fabulous. Must be heavy and uncomfortable .The nasal bar probably did more damage than good.Nice low brow. A helmet with battlefield provenance.Layered as a cake.
            Love the chainmaill under the shikoro.A real warrior kabuto.

            Jon

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            • #7
              IHi!

              That’s a rare one, Ian! I understand that you consider it a keeper. You never been temptef to fit a new kashiradate? What is your estimation of the age? My amateur guess would be Momoyama-Early Edo. Thanks for sharing.

              Anthony
              Anthony De Vos - Sweden

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              • #8
                Anthony, Yes I am convinced it is late Muromachi / Momoyama. I have speculated on where the idea of a nasal bar came from.. They were used in the 17th century for zischagge and similar helmets based on Turkish originals and were used extensively in the Middle East and India. I suspect an Indian helmet may have been taken to Japan by the Portuguese from their base in Goa. Interestingly, Pant, in his book on Indian armour shows a Japanese helmet ( quoting from memory I think it is a 12 plate lacquered suji bachi with a small manju shikoro) that was found in the Deccan that has been decorated with Indian motifs in gold on the lacquered plates. How it arrived there is a bit to a mystery but we know Otomo Yoshishige (Sorin) sent the Portuguese governor of Goa an armour and a silver mounted naginata and that might be the source.
                Ian Bottomley.
                Ian Bottomley - UK

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                • #9
                  I have 3 of Pants books but sadly I lack that one. I now have a burning need to see a suji bachi with Indian decoration.
                  Sean Zapara - FL, USA

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