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The Samurai Helmet (Kabuto)

Construction of samurai armour, Source Wendelin Boeheim Leipzig 1890: 1. Cuirass – dō (胴(仏胴)) 2. Fauld – kusazuri (草摺) 3. Cuisse – haidate (佩楯) 4. Poleyn – tateage (立挙) 5. Greaves – suneate (臑当(篠臑当)) 6. Sabaton – kōgake (甲懸) 7. Spaulders – sode (袖(当世袖)) 8. Vambrace – kote (籠手(篠籠手)) 9. Gauntlets – tekkō (手甲(摘手甲)) 10. Helm – kabuto (兜(日根野形頭形兜)) 11. Badge (helmet) – kasa-jirushi (笠印) 12. Forehead plate – mabisashi (眉庇) 13. Lame – fukikaeshi (吹返) 14. Neck guard – shikoro (しころ(日根野しころ)) 15. Crest (here: water buffalo horns) – wakidate (立物(水牛の脇立)) 16. Crest (here: sun disk) – maedate (立物(日輪の前立)) 17. Faceplate – menpō or mempō (面頬(目の下頬)) 18. Badge (shoulder) – sode-jirushi (垂) 19. Bevor – yodare-kake (襟廻)
  • Evolved from the earlier helmets seen in the Kofun period.
  • It has a large extension part called shikkoro to protect the neck and shoulders from the arrows.
  • The samurai helmet has the curved sides to protect from short range sword attacks.
  • It is main purpose is to identify the commander and show status and wealth of the daimyo. Not all samurai wore colorful and decorative helmets (kawari kabuto).
  • In the Muromachi period, they were rather simple. With the advancement of the gunfire in the 16th century, the main purpose of helmet changed from protection to the rank and status of the wearer.

  • The large palettes on the sides and back can still protect the face when arrows are raining from the sky and the sides.
  • The hole in the middle called hachimanza meaning of the seat for the God of War. But the purpose is thought to have the room for the warriors hair knot in the Muromachi period. Long hair knot tradition ended centuries ago but the holes in the helmets continued perhaps it helped ventilating the air and also continuing the same production technology.
  • The ornament in the front is called datemono. The most common is kuwagata which is similar to deer horns. The saying goes that a successful samurai in the 15th century worn the deer antlers on the helmet and many imitated him. So this style became popular.

  • Other types of datemono are animals, horns, and mythical creatures.
  • Samurai’s most favorite color was red because the red armor represented power.
  • Samurai’s most favorite bug was tonbo because it always flies forward and never retreats.
  • Since it gets so hot and also it is difficult to carry the helmet  the samurai saved the front part of their hair and used the knot as a cushion for the helmet. The hairstyle of samurai was called chonmage.
  • Dart Wader’s helmet was inspired by the neck protection gear of the samurai.
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