Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Half Mask (Ho-ate) with Neck Guard

Signed by Myōchin Munetomo (Japanese, Edo period, active early 18th century)
dated January 1730
Iron, lacquer, textile (silk)
H. 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm); W. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm)
Armor Parts-Masks
Credit Line:
Bequest of George C. Stone, 1935
Accession Number:
36.25.304a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 370
Masks have long played an important role in Japanese culture: in religious ceremonies, dance, Noh theater, and military costume. For samurai, masks served as a principal face defense and helped secure the helmet to the head more firmly.

The majority of masks were half-length (mempo), covering the nose and the face below the eyes. Their iron surfaces are either lacquered or a dark russet finish; the interiors are usually lacquered red. In addition to half masks, the Metropolitan Museum's collection is unusual in possessing numerous full masks (somen). The majority date from the peaceful Edo period. During that time, armorers like the Myōchin clan took pride in making ever more varied masks as a demonstration of their creativity and their famous metalworking skills.
Signature: Signed under the chin in Japanese: Myōchin Munetomo, 1st day, 1st month, 15th year of Kyōho (January 1730).
George Cameron Stone, New York (said to have been acquired in Kyoto; until d. November 18, 1935; his bequest to MMA).
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