Zeb the Duck Visits the Samurai at the Denver Art Museum

Between the late 1100’s and the late 1800’s, the Samurai controlled Japan.   The samurai formed the top tier of a strictly hierarchical society.     And, I, Zeb the Duck, am at the Denver Art Museum exploring the special exhibit about The Samurai.

Let's visit the Samurai

Let’s visit the Samurai

Look at this suit of armor.

Samurai armor

Samurai armor

It looks too heavy for a small duck to wear.   But, who were these Samurai?   Good guys or bad guys?

Who are the Samurai?

Who are the Samurai?

They were the good guys.   They were great warriors, but also very educated.   They were trained to be exceptional gentlemen in all phases of life.   They had to keep their lives balanced.   The boys of the Samurai families began training when they were about 6 years old.   They were given their first wooden sword to begin training.   They also became skilled in martial arts, learned history, classical literature and calligraphy.

Boy's first armor

Boy’s first armor

The boys earned the first suit of armor when they were about 12 years old.   This one, from the 1800’s, is of iron, lacquer, gold, wood, lacing and fabric.    I liked this silk screen.

Silk screen

Silk screen

It recounts an episode during the Genpei War (1180-85) when the Minamoto family’s defeat of the Taira family ushered in the era of Samurai rule.   This Samurai warrior looks very formidable on his horse.

Samurai and horse with armor

Samurai and horse with armor

He is wearing armor of the Tachido Type from the 1600’s made of iron, gold, lacing, bear fur, silver, and wood.   His horse is wearing armor with a horse mask from the 1600’s or 1700’s, made of leather, wood, silk, lacquer, fabric, gold, and horsehair.   The horse tack from the 1600’s or 1700’s is also made of leather, wood, iron and lacquer.    Stirrups were very important.

Stirrups with monkey

Stirrups with monkey

These are of iron, wood and copper.   Notice the seated monkey at the front of each stirrup.   Monkeys were considered to be protective figures for horses and were often housed in stables alongside horses to keep them calm.  The Samurai men were often away fighting, so the women were trained to defend themselves and their homes.

Women samurai defend their home

Women samurai defend their home

She is using the naginata, a pole with a curved blade attached to a long shaft.   This was the weapon of choice for Samurai women.   Horse masks were often made of paper maché, but not this one.

Mask for horse

Rare iron mask for horse

This is a rare example of a horse mask made of iron.   The mask, often worn in a parade or procession, transformed the horse into a creature of mythical power.   Here is the Mōri Ensemble.

Mōri Ensemble

Mōri Ensemble

You are viewing the only known example, outside Asia, of an entire set of armor and accessories belonging to one family.   This panel shows daily life of a samurai.

Panel with Zeb's friend

Panel with Zeb’s friend

The docent near the panel is my new friend.  You will notice I am in front of the armor and I am wearing a samurai hat.

Armor

Armor

My new friend made it for me.   I like it!   This armor is from the early 1600’s

Fancy armor

Fancy armor

Made of iron, lacquer, bear fur, paper, bamboo, gold, wood, fabric and horsehair, this is very fancy.   My humans and I really liked this exhibit.   Since it is a special exhibit, it will only be at the Denver Art Museum until June 5, 2016.   If you visit this exhibit, you will like it.   There is so much to learn and so much to see.   Of course, I could not show you everything.   When you enter the exhibit, you receive an audio guide that will explain various displays to you.   We really like the audio guides that we use for special exhibits here.   We hope to see you there soon.

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