Well, no plan survives intact past implementation they say, and I've proven that true again. I'm already being distracted from the homepage work I had hoped to complete this month. But it is not all bad news.
In fact one, I mean two of the distractions that have taken me away from listing some of the armours I had told people about in my last news letter are actually two more armours that I picked up last week!
One of these is a truly classic and extremely well preserved all authentic example of those as were favoured by the senior grade samurai of the famous Date-han of Oshu. Though many people believe that the Date-han warriors exclusively wore the conventional go-mai dou gusokus that were so favoured by the han's most famous daimyou, Date Masamune, they may be surprised to known that this was not the case. Though clearly most of the lower ranking warriors did wear go-mai dou gusoku, the upper rank warriors were typically allowed a considerable degree of freedom of liberty and choice when deciding the final style of their armour sets. That said these armours still tended to be fabricated within somewhat limited and easily recognisable genre which was clearly unique to the bushi of the Date han.
I go into this in some detail in the item description, so I will skip such information here, but one item of interest that I will point out is the fact that the armour came with its battle flag which shows up in a mid-Edo period Date-han hata-chou registry of the heraldic flags of 300 koku rank samurai as is held in the archives of the Sendai City Museum, the old stomping grounds of the Date-Clan. Not only is the flag a match, but the kamon crests found on the armour match those showing along with the flag in the hata-chou as well. A very nice bit of historical documentation and connection.
The other armour also appears to be a Date-han armour. The armours is a matched gusoku made around re-mounted early period parts, including a very fine early period me-no-shita men and classic late Muromachi period Yukinoshita dou. The men is of particular interest for its age and style, but also for the fact that it sports the inset hair bundles for a beard, a feature which is extremely rare at the best of times on an style of mengu, but even more so on this form of facial armour. The dou, beside being a very early example of this innovative style of cuirass, also feature a unique method of affixing the gessan pendants. The armour also features a unique form of haidate which are mounted on e-gawa leather backings. The battle worthy and austere nature of the armour is lightened by the presence of numerous highly detailed etched and gilded copper kamon crest kanamono fixtures which liberally decorate the dou, sode plates of the bishamon kote and kabuto fukigaeshi.
Of course the jewel in the crown is the armour of 150,000 koku daimyou Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu 1658-1714, the personal senior advisor to the 5th Tokugawa Shogun, Tsunayoshi. Further information about Yanasigawa and his outstanding armour can be seen by visiting the new listing for this set in the GUSOKU section.
I'd like to point out, that unlike so many, and I mean many claims about armours belonging to this or that daimyou over the last few years seen offered on the internet, this one is waterproof. I'm not just guessing based on the few crests on the helmet bowl, or fabricating this information for the sake of a sale. It is all documented in a number of highly regarded texts on Japanese armour, including some of those by Dr. Sasama. The armour also has early NKBKHK issued jyuyo grading and has appeared in a number of famous exhibitions. So the Nambokuchou ( circa 1350 ) helmet bowl with battle damage on it from a blow from a tachi, well again, you can find that information described in these sources. And or the fact that this armour was fabricated for and used by Yanagisawa is again all these on paper in black and white, and with supporting photographs. So again this is not another of those wishful thinking, finely fabricated fairy tales we have all seen over and over again.
I'll be adding additional small items to the HP over the course of the next few days and two or three more full gusoku, again as were previously described in my last newsletter in the next couple of weeks as time allows.
And finally, we have a yet another documentary film in the works, and one that will naturally interest all of you armourphiles out there, as will the one presently being finalized for its July release. The one now going to production you will be happy to note deals exclusively with samurai armour. Though largely finalized in form, even at this late date, I would like to put it to you the armour collectors of the world to tell me what you would really like to see in such a production, basically a high quality 1 hour documentary as one would expect to see on the likes of Discovery Channel, the BBC and the likes. By this I mean what questions would you hope to have answered once and for all? What aspect of armour would you most like to see? Any thoughts and comments are welcome. These those must be related specifically to armour itself. Filming begins shortly and I want to make sure we get it all. Having been around armour for so long, information and details which to me now seem common place might very well be missed, so I want to hear form the collector world. For your time I am offering 10 free DVD of our first film which will be awarded in late July. So for those who send in what I consider to be the top 10, most interesting and though provoking questions, I'll be happy to award you with a copy of our first documentary release which has already received some very positive reviews. To give you a hint of the quality, we used three cameras, and not just handy-cams, but state of the art, Hollywood film industry calibre equipment, the same stuff they use to make feature length films, including a steady-cam. The photograph is exceptional. The information unrivalled, and the film unlike anything you've seen on the samurai to date. Mark my words. I'm very proud of this first documentary film release, and there are more in the works. So send me your thoughts folks. I'd love to hear from the people like you, those who are going to want to see such a documentary the most.