This is a rare example of a medieval yoroi. The yoroi is characterized by a cuirass that wraps around the body and is closed by a separate panel (waidate) on the right side and by a deep four-sided skirt. In use from around the tenth to the fourteenth century, yoroi were generally worn by warriors on horseback.
Originally, this armor was laced in white silk and had diagonal bands of multicolored lacings at the edges of the skirt and the sode (shoulder guards, missing here). The colored lacings symbolized the rainbow, which represented both good fortune and fleeting beauty. The breastplate is covered with stenciled leather bearing the image of the powerful Buddhist deity Fudō Myō-ō, whose fierce mien and attributes of calmness and inner strength were highly prized by the samurai. The helmet, long associated with this armor, dates from the middle of the fourteenth century.
Traditionally, it is believed that this yoroi was donated to the Shinomura Hachimangū , a shrine near Kyoto, by Ashikaga Takauji (1305–1358), founder of the Ashikaga shogunate.
[Ide Zenbe, Kyoto, until 1905; said to have belonged to the Shinomura Hachimangū shrine, Kyoto, Japan; sold to Dean on July 19, 1905, for 1200 yen]; Bashford Dean, New York (1905–14; his gift to MMA).
Dean, Bashford. "A Specimen of Early Japanese Armor." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (January 1908), pp. 13–14, ill.
Dean, Bashford. Notes on Arms and Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1916. pp. 21–22, ill.
Yamagami, Hachiro. Nippon Katchū no Shin Kenkyū (Modern Study of Japanese Armor). Vol. II. Tokyo, 1928. p. 71, pl. 25.
Okada, Yuzuru, and Tōkyō Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan. Pageant of Japanese Art: Ceramics and Metalwork from 551 (pre-Buddhist) to 1868 (Edo period). Vol. 4. Tokyo: Tōto Bunka, December 1952. pp. 53–54, 80, 90, pl. 44, ill. a similar o-yoroi example cited.
Grancsay, Stephen V. "The New Galleries of Oriental Arms and Armor." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (May 1958), pp. 254–256, ill.
Grancsay, Stephen V. "The Japanese Armor Gallery in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Connoisseur (September 1961), opp. p. 12, ill.
Hakuseki, Arai, and H. Russell Robinson. The Armour Book in Honcho-Gunkiko, edited by H. Russell Robinson. London: Holland Press, 1964. opp. p. 25, pl. IV a, b, d.
Vianello, Gianni. Armi in Oriente. 1st ed. ed. Milan: Fratelli Fabbri Editori, 1966. pp. 107, 110, pl. 51.
Barnhart, Richard M. Asia, edited by John P. O'Neill. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. pp. 32–33, no. 12, ill.
Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Summer, 1991), pp. 56–57, 64, ill.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Thomas P. Campbell. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 159, ill.
Pyhrr, Stuart W. "Of Arms and Men: Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan, 1912–2012." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Summer 2012), p. 12, fig. 14.