Mei (signed): Myōchin Muneyoshi Kaei yonen kanoto-i jūichigatsu kichijitsu (明珎宗吉 嘉永四年辛亥十一月吉日, “On a lucky day of the eleventh month Kaei four , Year of the Boar”)
Period: End of Edo (November 1851)
N.K.B.K.H.K. Kōshu Tokubetsu Kichō Shiryō Certification (Special Extraordinary Work Grade A)
With a wood-stand
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Here we have an excellently forged russet-iron Sujibachi Kabuto, good quality of the 62-plate, with elegant slim suji and rivet heads left visible on the surface, rounded mabisashi (the peak of a helmet) with oharai date, a five-stage copper tehen kanamon, the three-lame iron ko manju jikoro (a small rounded neck guard), urushi (black-lacquered) and laced in dark blue sugake odoshi, the fukigaeshi part leather covered with a silvered mon.
The former traced their origin back to the Prime Minister of the Empress Jingō, who is recorded to have invaded Korea at the beginning of the 3rd century; but they only became strictly historical with Munesuke, who is said to have been given the family name of Myōchin (妙珍) by Emperor Konoye about the middle of the 12th century, the family name before this being Masuda. Munesuke is the maker of the helmet crown of the Akita armour referred to above.
The 15th and 16th centuries are marked by the rise to prominence of the great families of hereditary armourers, chief among whom are the Myōchin. This school, above all others, gained fame as metalworkers of the highest order, receiving the patronage of the wealthiest in the land. Kunimichi (1624-43), 21st Master in the genealogy, began to produce embossed helmets and cuirasses of a very high standard and his example led many of his contemporaries to follow suit. He was the first Myōchin to move from Kyōto to the new capital of Edo around 1670.
In Orikasa’s publication “Studies on Arms and Armour” he shows that the Myōchin family’s move from Edo to Kaga was quite late. The first was a Myōchin Muneyoshi who established himself in Kanazawa during the Kansei period (1789-1801). His pupil, Munetoshi, became official armourer in 1805, dying in 1837. The post was then taken by Muneyoshi in 1838. Another pupil of Muneyoshi was Munehide who died in 1851 followed by Munetaka, Munenobu, Munenaga and Munemitsu. Orikasa also lists the stipends of some of these showing they were on the Han’s payroll. Muneyoshi, being an official armourer, received rice to support seven people, others such as Munehisa only sufficient for two people.
This family existed until the last days of the Tokugawa (end of 19th century).