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Jingasa / shields

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  • Sir Koredono
    Greetings all So, I saw something at the National Geographic Samurai exhibit this past weekend, and I thought I d consult the hive mind before I fire off a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2012
      Greetings all

      So, I saw something at the National Geographic "Samurai" exhibit this
      past weekend, and I thought I'd consult the hive mind before I fire
      off a letter to them about it; I'm pretty sure I'm right, but hey,
      I've thought that and been wrong before.

      In one of the exhibit cases, they had displayed an portable armor box,
      a full set of armor, a signal baton (saihai), and what looked to me
      for all the world to be a lacquered jingasa of the style of #3 in this
      pic (http://www.samuraisword.com/Jingasa_Kabuto/index.7.jpg), though
      plainer with a small mon about where the forehead would be. However,
      the exhibit placard proclaimed it to be a shield, and when I asked one
      of the guides about it, he said, yes, it was a shield, and as evidence
      he noted a picture of a samurai using it as such holding it over his
      head, which I recognized as a photo of a late Edo / Meiji man
      (probably a samurai, perhaps an actor in a staged outfit) wearing a
      variation of the hunting suikan (very much like this one -
      http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/ogawa/ogawa_restor_8-1.jpg - not the
      usual one with the spotted deer-hide chaps), and looked more he was
      doffing his hat rather than using a shield; also, the hunter using the
      shield is less believable, since he was holding a yumi with his other
      hand, and it's kinda hard to fire a bow while using a shield. When I
      pointed this out to the guide, as well as a later photo of a group of
      modern children doing a re-enactment of the 47 Ronin, all of whom were
      wearing jingasa of that style, he said "oh, well, they may also have
      had hats which looked like that, but the one on display is definitely
      a shield". He wasn't a scholar or a docent, just a regular employee
      at the exhibit, who apparently had been told, during his tour of the
      exhibit, that it was a shield by someone with standing and authority.

      All that said, here's the question: while I can believe that samurai
      can and did use whatever was available as a weapon and/or a shield,
      does anyone have any evidence of something being made primarily as a
      shield which happened to look *exactly* like a lacquered jingasa, as
      opposed to a samurai who needed to block an attack with jingasa
      because that's what he had to hand at the moment? I've certainly
      never come across anything of that nature in my 25 years of Japanese
      research, and while they has some interesting and unique objects (like
      the sword that Meiji gave to U. S. Grant, and the armor given to
      Theodore Roosevelt) I can't imagine that they would have gotten
      anything as unusual as a buckler that looks like a jingasa.

      There were a few other things that made me twitch a little, but I was
      going to let them slide, until I saw that notice.

      I await the knowledge and opinions that I hope will be forthcoming on
      this topic.

      Sir Koredono
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