Surcoat (Jinbaori)

Date: 17th century

Geography: Kyoto

Culture: Japanese

Medium: Silk, felt, metallic thread, wood, lacquer

Dimensions: H. 38 3/8 in. (97.3 cm); W. 25 in. (63.3 cm)

Classification: Surcoat

Credit Line: Purchase, Charles and Ellen Baber Gift, 2006

Accession Number: 2006.95


A high-ranking samurai would have worn a jimbaori like this over his armor not only for protection against the elements but also as a highly visible display of his status and his mon (family crest). The mon appliquéd at the top of the back of this outstanding example identifies its original owner as a member of the Makino family, who were daimyos (lords) of Tanabe (modern Kyoto Prefecture).

Jimbaori are derived from a jacket known as a dofuku, which was worn by important samurai beginning in the late sixteenth century and often incorporated fabric imported from China or Europe. Beginning in the early seventeenth century, dofuku developed into two types: a short coat with sleeves called a haori and the sleeveless jimbaori. Jimbaori have broad lapels, to display the rich fabric of the lining, and a single slit up the back. The lively and highly original design of tossing waves on this jimbaori was rendered in appliqués of subtly shaded silks embroidered with highlights in gold and silver thread. The unusual motifs, the high quality of the materials and workmanship, and the relatively early date make it one of the finest jimbaori in the Museum's collection.