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Japanese Armor in the News



Auction record set for Japanese armor mask


A record was set on May 17th, 2012 at Bonham's auction house in London.  A red lacquered tengu somen (full face armor mask in the form of a mythical tengu bird) signed "Geishu Myochin Kiyoyoshi" sold for £121,250 British Pounds as a hushed auction floor watched two determined bidders duel on the telephone.  The sale price was more than ten times the auction house's high estimate.


Pointe-à-Callière marks 20th anniversary with Samurai exhibition

Museum displays private collection of Japanese armour, masks and weapons

By Kathryn Greenaway, THE GAZETTE, May 19, 2012

MONTREAL - The Pointe-à-Callière Archeology and History Museum of Montreal turned 20 on Thursday.

It opened the same day that Montreal celebrated its 350th birthday and, over the last two decades, has presented a steady stream of exhibitions which dig into Montreal’s past or delve into the great civilizations of the world.  The ultra-modern museum, tucked into a pie-shaped corner of Old Montreal, celebrates its birthday with the launch of Samurai – an exhibition featuring 450 objects from Richard Béliveau’s private collection.

Béliveau is a biochemist and a renowned researcher in the fight against cancer. He sees a direct link between his work and his fascination with Japan and the Samurai concept of bushido “the way of the warrior”.  “Cancer is the enemy to beat and to win it takes imagination, skill and perseverance, values inextricably linked to the Samurai spirit,” Béliveau said. “When you are terminally ill you live every day with great intensity, as did the Samurai.”

The Samurai were the military elite of pre-industrial Japan and their armour, masks and weapons were elaborately crafted. Visitors are greeted by a formation of 10 Samurai suits of armour at the start of the exhibition.  “These aren’t just suits of armour, they are works of art,” Béliveau said as he toured the exhibition Tuesday.  Béliveau became fascinated with the Samurai through books and films when he was 11 years old and began his collection when he was 15 years old. He estimates he has collected around 500 objects.


On May 12, 2012, the Frazier History Museum in Louisville, KY, opened their exhibit "Samurai," which showcases over 200 objects – from armor and swords to rare textiles, artwork and religious items in a 3,800 square foot gallery.  The exhibition runs through September 30, 2012.



Samurai: Masterworks from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection, at Québec City’s Musée de la civilisation.  “A spectacular exhibition” says Le Monde. “Original and fascinating, like the world it evokes” adds Le Figaro. “The world’s loveliest collection” declares Paris Match. The exhibition Samurai: Masterworks from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection offers a captivating excursion into the mythical world of the terrifying and ferocious, yet refined and cultivated Samurai warriors. More than 150 sets, including 22 full suits of glittering armor, three ultra-rare sets of horse armor, an exceptional Mori Clan ensemble, and a panoply of fabulous accoutrements (helmets of surprising inspiration, masks that grimace and threaten, jinbaori vests, impressive weapons, stirrups, saddles) will be on display for the first time in this country, exclusively from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection.  The exhibition, a smash hit at Musée du Quai Branly in Paris until January 29 of this year, will open at Québec City’s Musée de la civilisation this April 4 and continue until January 27, 2013. 


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Samurai exhibition at Quai Branly attracts 148,000 visitors, Paris, 3 February 2012, Art Media Agency (AMA).

The exhibition “Samouraï, Armure du guerrier” at Musée du Quai Branly received a huge success attracting a total of 148,000 visitors.  For the first time in Europe, a large number of Japanese warrior armour, issued from the Barbier-Mueller collection, was gathered in Paris. The collection, displayed from 8 November 2011 to 29 January 2012, received a daily average of 1.993 visitors.

This important rate made this exhibition – after “Maya” and “Fleuve Congo” – the third most visited at Musée du Quai Branly.  The collection was originally displayed in Dallas,Texas, and was part of one of the most important collections in the United States. The majority of the pieces presented at Musée du Quai Branly date from the Edo Period (also known as Tokugawa Period), from 1602 to 1867.

The samurai belonged to the intellectual elite of Japanese society and often practised disciplines such as calligraphy, poetry and literature. Their helmets, true artistic works, had many functions: to highlight the status of the warrior, to scare the enemy and especially, to protect the warrior wearing it.

After the successful exhibition in Paris, the 140 pieces of armour will be exhibited at Musée de la Civilisation in Quebec from April 2012. 

Mathew Welch, Assistant Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Japanese and Korean Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts discusses the Institute's acquisition of a very special Iwai school armor made for a branch of the Tokugawa.  The armor was purchased at auction for a record $600,000 in October, 2009.  Contact us to purchase the June issue of Orientations Magazine and this important study.


Coverage in Handelsblatt (Düsseldorf/Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt) of Shakudo Fine Arts at Asia Week.


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