“Travel back in time and discover remarkable objects that illuminate the life, culture, and pageantry of these revered and feared Japanese warriors—from one of the best and largest collections in the world. “Samurai! Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection” features the extraordinary artistry of the armor used by samurai—the military elite led by the shoguns, or warlords, of Japan from the 12th through 19th centuries. The exhibition illustrates the evolution of the distinctive appearance and equipment of the samurai warrior through the centuries and examines their history.”
“Samurai! Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection” is the latest exhibit to grace the new wing at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and it is easily the most impressive show they have had in years.
Having an inside connection, I was lucky enough to go to the opening of this show and if you’re in the city, it’d be a great way to take your mind off of things, and if you aren’t, maybe this will inspire you to visit.
The most impressive thing about this show, as with most of the Asian Arts shows at the MFA, is the presentation. The show takes you on a journey through the history of the Samurai and gives you valuable insight into the form, function, and lifestyles of these warriors.
The show is set up meticulously, an incredible level of attention and care was put into both the layout and the lighting.
The range of objects is truly amazing as well, most of the pieces coming from the Edo period, there are decorative, ceremonial pieces as well as battle tested pieces, all of which are simply beautiful.
This picture is of my second favorite set up in the exhibit, it is a full suit of armor as well as a few accessories, there is a longbow, early under armor, a short bow to be used in caravans(on the left) and firefighter armor (on the right). This is just one example of about 4 similar setups, showing each piece of the full samurai armor, it’s almost like seeing a collector’s action figure with all the accessories.
This creepy piece is from the “foreign influence” section of the exhibit that shows many pieces of armor that drew inspiration from the many cultures that visited Japan during the Edo period. They built armor to mimic theirs as a means of confusion and fear. Much of the Samurai armor created during the Edo period was created with the intention of striking fear into their enemies. Something that was highly effective at intimidating enemies and getting the peasantry (I was really hoping to use peasantry in this :P) to surrender easier.
As I said, the Samurai were all about intimidation and this is the proof. I mean, that is downright horrific. Imagine, working in a field on a sunny day and about thirty of these beasts come galloping over the hill, screaming, and waving swords. You’d think that the demons of hell are rising up, and that’s usually how they were treated.
The next few pictures show the same figure, as well as others, in what is probably my favorite exhibit that has ever graced the halls of the MFA. (Both my parents worked there as a child, so I’ve spent a fair amount of time there, trust me, this show is amazing.)
The show continues on to some weirder stuff, like this little spooky bird/fish thingy.
Like I said, this show is very comprehensive and shows a wide range of some truly spectacular objects
Samurai! is on exhibit until August 4th, so if you find yourself in the Boston area between now and then, go and check it out, it’s amazing. You can find more about it from the MFA’s website HERE.
I’ll leave you with this: