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After almost a century and a half of near-constant civil war and political upheaval, Japan unified under a new ruling family, the Tokugawa, in the early 1600s. Their reign lasted for more than 250 years, in an era referred to as the Edo period, after the town of Edo (present-day Tokyo) that became the new capital of Japan. The Tokugawa regime brought economic growth, prolonged peace, and widespread enjoyment of the arts and culture. The administration also imposed strict class separation and rigid regulations for all. As a result, the ruling class-with the shogun as governing military official, the daimyo as local feudal lords, and the samurai as their retainers-had only a few ways to display personal taste in public. Fittings and accessories for their swords, which were an indispensable symbol of power and authority, became a critical means of self-expression and a focal point of artistic creation.
This installation explores the luxurious aspects of Edo-period sword fashion, a fascinating form of arms and armor rarely featured in exhibitions outside Japan. It presents a selection of exquisite sword mountings, fittings, and related objects, including maker’s sketchbooks-all drawn from The Met collection and many rarely or never exhibited before.
This exhibition is made possible by the Vilcek Foundation.
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Now on view at The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 380
The exhibition Samurai Splendor: Sword Fittings from Edo Japan is amazing for a number of reasons.
• It showcases the exquisite craftsmanship of Japanese swordsmiths and metalworkers during the Edo period (1603-1868). The sword fittings on display are made from a variety of materials, including gold, silver, copper, iron, and lacquer, and are decorated with a wide range of techniques, such as carving, inlaying, and painting.
• The exhibition provides a glimpse into the lives of the samurai, the ruling class of Japan during the Edo period. The sword was an essential symbol of the samurai's power and authority, and the sword fittings were a way for them to express their personal taste and status.
• The exhibition is a rare opportunity to see these exquisite objects up close. Many of the sword fittings on display have never been exhibited before, and some of them are centuries old.
• The exhibition is well-curated and informative. The labels provide detailed information about the objects on display, and the exhibition also includes interactive elements that allow visitors to learn more about the history and significance of Japanese sword fittings.
Overall, Samurai Splendor: Sword Fittings from Edo Japan is an amazing exhibition that is sure to impress visitors of all ages. It is a must-see for anyone interested in Japanese art, history, or culture.
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Wednesday, 20 December, 2023
Event & Festival ContactSamurai Splendor: Sword Fittings from Edo Japan
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