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The Japanese Sword and the Japanese Aesthetic

Learn more about the exhibition Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156—1868, on view at the Met October 21, 2009 — January 10, 2010: Victor Harris, Keeper Emeritus of Japanese Antiquities, British Museum; honorary librarian, The Japan Society; and author and art consultant This is the first comprehensive exhibition devoted to the arts of the samurai. Arms and armor is the principal focus, bringing together the finest examples of armor, swords and sword mountings, archery equipment and firearms, equestrian equipment, banners, surcoats, and related accessories of rank such as fans and batons. Drawn entirely from public and private collections in Japan, the majority of objects date from the rise of the samurai in the late Heian period, ca. 1156, through the early modern Edo period, ending in 1868, when samurai culture was abolished. The martial skills and daily life of the samurai, their governing lords, the daimyo, and the ruling shoguns will also be evoked through the presence of painted scrolls and screens depicting battles and martial sports, castles, and portraits of individual warriors. The exhibition concludes with a related exhibition documenting the recent restoration in Japan of a selection of arms and armor from the Metropolitan Museums permanent collection. This is the first exhibition ever devoted to the subject of Japanese arms and armor conservation. This Sunday at the Met is supported by the Japan Foundation.
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