Lethal Beauty: Design Elements in Samurai Suits of Armor by Dr. Andreas Marks, Exhibition Curator, Curator of Japanese and Korean Art, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, formerly Director and Chief Curator, Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture

Saturday, September 28, 2013
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.



Price: Free with Museum admission.

Tōsei Gusoku Armor with Multi-colored Lacing and Flesh-colored Cuirass


Edo period, 18th century

Iron, silk, lacquer, gold, boar fur, and boar bristle

Cuirass height 24.5 cm (9.6 in.), helmet height 45 cm (17.7 in.)

Private Collection

Japanese suits of armor stand out amongst the armor of other world cultures because of their flashy, colorful appearance and exquisite design. The armor most often seen in exhibitions or auctions ranges in date from the 16th to the 19th centuries. During this time a large industry of samurai-oriented crafts production catered to a significant part of Japanese society.

Based on the sense for aesthetics and beauty of wealthy samurai, such armor was custom made, employing a range of materials from different types of metal to leather, lacquer, and silk. An iconic part of Japanese armor is the head protection consisting of fierce face masks and dramatic helmets, underlining the owner's superhuman image of power. This lecture will focus on the design of suits of armor and will especially address helmet forms and often found elements like demonic Chinese lions.

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