Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection takes visitors on a journey back in time to discover the life, culture, and pageantry of the revered and feared Japanese samurai warriors through remarkable objects from one of the best and largest collections in the world. The exhibition, organized by The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum in Dallas, Texas, features more than 140 objects of warrior regalia, with full suits of armor, helmets and face guards, weapons, horse trappings, and other battle gear. It traces the evolution of the distinctive appearance and equipment of the samurai through the centuries and examines the warriors’ history through works of consummate craftsmanship and exquisite design.
During the centuries covered by the exhibition, warfare evolved from combat between small bands of equestrian archers to the clash of vast armies of infantry and cavalry equipped with swords, spears, and even matchlock guns. Arms and armor were needed in unprecedented quantities, and craftsmen responded with an astonishingly varied array of armor that was both functional and visually spectacular, a celebration of the warrior’s prowess.
Even after 1615, when the Tokugawa military dictatorship brought an end to battle, samurai families continued to commission splendid arms and armor for ceremonial purposes. Because the social rank, income, and prestige of a samurai family were strictly determined by the battlefield valor of their ancestors, armor became even more sumptuous as the embodiment of an elite warrior family’s heritage.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalog, Art of Armor: Samurai Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection, with essays by leading Japanese samurai armor experts.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, Art of Armor: Samurai Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection presents, for the first time, the samurai armor collection of the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum in Dallas. The objects date from the 12th to the 19th century, with a particularly strong focus on Edo-period armor. Offering an exciting look into the world of the samurai warrior, the book begins with an introduction by Morihiro Ogawa. Essays by prominent scholars in the field highlight topics such as the phenomenon of the warrior in Japan, the development of the samurai helmet, castle architecture, women in samurai culture, and Japanese horse armor. The book's final section consists of an extensive catalogue of objects, concentrating on 120 significant works in the collection. Lavishly illustrated in full color, each object is accompanied by an entry written by a scholar of Japanese armor.