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Riveted Japanese mail (karakuri-namban).

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:05 pm    Post subject: Riveted Japanese mail (karakuri-namban). Reply with quote
There were up until now only two images available in the world of this armor type. Recently I purchased three matching armor items for the extremities (sangu) consisting of haidate (thigh armor), suneate (shin armor) and kote (armored sleeves). These historical items were being sold in three different auctions and would have been split up never to be seen again. I know of only two reverences to riveted kusari, one in late 1700's book "The manufacture of armour and helmets in sixteenth century Japan" (Chukokatchu seisakuben) Author :Sakakibara, Kozan,Translated by T. Wakameda ; Rev. by A. J. Koop and Hogitaro Indada, 1912 ; Rev. and edited by H. Russell Robinson, 1962.
Publisher London : Holland Press, 1963. pp 83-85.

"karakuri-namban (riveted namban), with stout links each closed by a rivet. Its invention is credited to Fukushima Dembei Kunitaka, pupil, of Hojo Awa no Kami Ujifusa, but it is also said to be derived directly from foreign models. It is heavy because the links are tinned (biakuro-nagashi) and these are also sharp edged because they are punched out of iron plate."

George Cameron Stone mentions a "kote with riveted European-style 4-in-1'' image # 475.10 in his book "A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: in All Countries and in All Times". The only image of rivered kusari I have seen published is in "Japanese Arms & Armor Introduction by Robinson, H Russell", 1969 P.58 , the image is listed as being an "Early 19th century breastplate from Museo Orientale Venice", in addition Dave Thatcher told me that he has seen this type before in Sasama's big book which I have do not have a copy of and have not seen.

The remaining question is whether this example was of Japanese manufacture or was this some foreign type acquired by an Japanese armor maker and used to make this particular armor. The links are not lacquered black as other types of Japanese mail, the links have the appearance of being possibly tinned or galvanized and as to the comparison of other types of riveted mail, the links do not look like eastern riveted mail samples that I have seen or like European riveted mail links.

I showed some images of the links to Ian Bottomley and he was kind enough to give an opinion the this looks like it may be riveted mail of Japanese manufacture due to the fact that in Eastern mail the riveted links are connected by solid links and the rivets are peened on both sides and not wedge riveted.

European riveted mail links are riveted with a wedge shaped rivet. The mail I have was made with eastern type rivets but all the links are riveted with no solid links.

Indian riveted mail

European wedge riveted mail

Japanese riveted kusari kote, haidate and suneate.

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Miko no Kami
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Congrats on your purchase and thanks for posting the photos. The amount of labor that would have went into making and assembling all of the individual links is staggering!
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