Rare hand-colored photos of Japanese samurai in the late 1800s

Mashable (by Alex Q. Arbuckle):

The military-nobility caste known as samurai — roughly meaning “those who serve” — emerged in medieval Japan as provincial warriors, and rose to control the country in the 12th century.

As the enforcement arm of the ruling shogunate, the samurai were elevated to a position of privilege. They followed a code of honor called bushido, informed by Confucianism and Zen Buddhism. Bushido emphasized martial fearlessness, discipline and loyalty, as well as general kindness.

These photos, made in the years after Japan finally opened its ports to international trade, capture samurai in their final days. With the 1868 Meiji Restoration and the end of feudalism, carrying swords was prohibited to all but the new national armed forces.

The samurai class was dissolved, but bushido survived as the national moral code of the new Japan.

1900

c. 1865

c. 1865

Two samurai in firefighter dress.

c. 1864

1867

c. 1867

1867

1877

c. 1880

c. 1880

1882

1890

1885

1870

c. 1865

1867

1867

c. 1865

c. 1860

Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s awesome samurai armor exhibition

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RocketNews 24:

At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, also known by the acronym LACMA, the museum is right in the middle of its exhibition titled Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection.

Swiss transplant and Texas real estate mogul Gabriel has amassed a staggering array of samurai protective gear, a portion of which is currently on loan to the museum located adjacent to Hancock Park on Wilshire Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles.

▼ Note the tengu (raven) motif of the face plate for the left set of armor.

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▼ Helmet ornamentation, from animal-like to religious to just plain massive.

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More than 140 pieces including lamellar breastplates, helms, face guards, and barding are on display. The exhibit is centered on armor worn by high-ranking samurai and daimyo, the regional warlords who ruled fiefs during Japan’s feudal era.

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The pieces vary in age from 14th to 19th century examples, and this broad range is reflected in changes made to armor design as the samurai adapted to the changing nature of battle. During the period in question, military engagements evolved from horseback archery to clashes of spear and sword-wielding infantry, and finally musket volleys when firearms became prevalent after contact with more technologically advanced European nations.

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The exhibition is scheduled run until February 1, so clear out your calendar quickly if you don’t want to miss the opportunity to see these awesome remnants of Japanese history.

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Museum information
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Address: 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Website
Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection website