Kabuto: Mumei (unsigned): Saotome school with Maru ni Igeta family crest
Period: Mid Edo
N.K.B.K.H.K. Tokubetsu Kicho Shiryō Certification
With a wood-stand and armor box.
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Yoroi with Maru ni Igeta family crest, probably from the Kitamura (北村), a family of doctors and poets, made by Saotome school.
The origin of Saotome School (早乙女派) are dated around the sixth year of Keichō (慶長1601).
Saotome katchūshi were active in Odawara (小田原) in Sōshū province and in Shimotsuma (下妻) and Fuchū (府中), both located in Hitachi province, that means it is safe to assume that the school had its origins in the Kantō region.
When it comes to the genealogy of the Saotome School, we have quite many names of individual craftsmen to work with but no solid references or data that show us how they were exactly related and connected.
As a general guideline, as reported in the “Meikō zukan fukan” (名甲図鑑附巻), the lineage of Saotome School is as follows:
1. Ietada家忠 – 2. Ienari家成 – 3. Iesada家貞 – 4. Iechika 家親- 5. Ietoshi 家利- 6. Moriie守家 – 7. Ienaga 家長- 8. Ietsugu家次 – 9. Ieharu家春
Saotome School helmets, also called Saotome-bachi (早乙女鉢) lit. “Saotome helmet bowls”
, were made since the Sengoku period in great quantity. They are of an excellent shape, of an excellent forging quality, and their thickly chiseled signatures are very legible.
Most of the helmets have a highly elegant bulbousness along both the front and the rear area, a shape that is consequently referred to as “Saotome style”. Nevertheless, the interpretations of Saotome-bachi are actually quite multifarious.
When we focus on the most common Saotome-bachi, which are 62-plate suji-kabuto, we can name the following characteristic features: (1) There are rivets visible on the inside of the central front and central rear plates and close to the tehen no ana. One along the front plate that comes with a za base, and two on the rear plate. These rivets are referred to as Saotome-byō and every Saotome-bachi should show Saotome-byō. (2) Almost all Saotome-bachi are assembled from the back, the plates have a certain bulbousness between the suji ribs, and the central front plate is double-layered. (3) There are right rivets that connect the plates, including the rivet that connects the bowl to the koshimaki no ita. The shiten no byō are mostly installed on the eight plate from the front and rear (not counting the central front plate) and at a relative high position.