Beginning in the sixteenth century, armorers contrived eccentrically shaped helmets (kawari kabuto), sometimes fashioned of papier-mâché mixed with lacquer, or, as here, entirely of iron. Their shapes often were inspired by images from traditional Japanese culture and mythology. Here, the face is the mythical tengu (mischievous mountain spirit) with a beak-shaped mouth, flanked on each side by embossed crows.
Carl Robert Lamm, Stockholm (until February 22, 1923; his sale, The American Art Association, New York, February 21–24, 1923, no. 501, for $25 to Stone); George Cameron Stone, New York (1923–d. November 18, 1935; his bequest to MMA).
Artist: Helmet bowl signed Saotome Iyetada (Japanese, Edo period, active early–mid-19th century)Date: 16th and 18th centuriesMedium: Iron, lacquer, silk, gilt copperAccession: 14.100.172On view in:Gallery 377