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Samurai Splendor: Sword Fittings from Edo Japan

Fino al 23 marzo 2025
Free with Museum admission

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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Blade and Mounting for a Short Sword (<i>Wakizashi</i>), Steel, wood, brass, lacquer, copper-gold alloy (<i>shakudō</i>), ray skin (<i>same</i>), silk, silver, Japanese
blade, 16th century; mounting, 19th century
グリ彫金具脇指拵 Blade and Mounting for a Short Sword (<i>Wakizashi</i>), 尾張関 Owari-Seki  Japanese, Steel, wood, lacquer, ray skin (<i>same</i>), baleen, copper-gold alloy (<i>shakudō</i>), copper (<i>hiirodō</i>), Japanese
尾張関 Owari-Seki
blade, 17th century; mounting, 19th century
金魚子地秋草図金具合口拵・付銀刀 Blade and Mounting for a Dagger (<i>Tantō</i>), 宮田信清 Miyata Nobukiyo  Japanese, Steel, silver, copper, copper-gold alloy (<i>shakudō</i>), gold, ray skin (<i>same</i>), baleen, lacquer, Japanese
宮田信清 Miyata Nobukiyo
mid–late 19th century
Portraits of Twenty-eight Metal Artists, Kitao Shigemasa  Japanese, Woodblock print; ink and color on paper, Japan
Kitao Shigemasa
彫鐫画譜 Album of Designs for Metal Carving (<i>Chōsen Gafu</i>), 嵐山常行画 Ranzan Tsuneyuki  Japanese, Ink on paper, pasted into a bound volume, Japanese
嵐山常行画 Ranzan Tsuneyuki
mid-19th century
Marquee: Mounting for a short sword (wakizashi) (detail), Japanese, 19th century. Wood, brass, lacquer, copper-gold alloy (shakudō), ray skin (samé), silk, silver. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Brayton Ives and W. T. Walters, 1891 (91.2.52)

Plan Your Visit

Fino al 23 marzo 2025
Free with Museum admission