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Thread: Arms & Armor Museum Exhibits

  1. #16
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    Arms & Armor Museum Exhibits

    Europe's first samurai museum opens in Berlin
    As a new museum on the samurai opens in Berlin, here are five facts about how the legendary warriors and political elite shaped the history of Japan for centuries


    Ferocious warriors on horseback — the Samurai
    The Japanese samurai are considered to be masters of swordsmanship and brave, fearless fighters. The myth surrounding the warriors still fascinates today. Both in Hollywood and in video games, feudal Japan is a box office hit. The samurai are romanticized as the epitome of chivalry and honor — even if their warfare was no less bloody or ruthless than combat elsewhere.
    A new museum in Berlin explores what is behind the myth.
    More than 1,000 artefacts from the collection of Peter Janssen, a German entrepreneur, are showcased at the Samurai Museum Berlin, which opens on May 8.
    Weapons and armor, tea sets, woodcuts and Buddhist sculptures are part of the interactive exhibition. "The myth and influence of the samurai on Japanese society are illuminated from different perspectives such as everyday life, art and craft or martial arts," the museum writes.
    Five facts about the Japanese warriors:

    1. Samurai means 'the serving one'
    The history of the samurai began when military conscription was abolished in Japan in the 8th century. Men from the provinces with military training took the place of the conscripts. They served the imperial court in Kyoto as well as noble families. They earned their living as fighters.

    Tea ceremony: Photo from the Seven Virtues series
    Over the centuries, the samurai expanded their power. At the end of the 12th century, they established their own military government, the shogunate, which coexisted with the imperial house.
    Until the 19th century, when their status was revoked by Emperor Meiji in favor of a modern army, the samurai were an integral part of Japanese political, social and cultural life.

    2. Only a true samurai was allowed to carry two swords
    The samurai fought and rode on horseback, for the most part using bow and arrows.
    Over time, the two swords they carried — a curved long sword (katana) and a second, shorter sword (wakizashi) — became an important status symbol.
    In some families, they were passed on from one generation to the next.

    The sword is the samurai's soul, a warrior leader allegedly once said
    Ornaments and intricate decorations added to the swords stood for the personality of the samurai. Elaborately decorated armor and helmets also referred to the warrior's rank and character. Motifs including demons, dragons and Buddhist patron gods were supposed to offer supernatural protection. Occasionally, samurai wore face masks with grim features and mustaches meant to scare off the enemy.

    3. Samurai warriors did not always act nobly
    The Japanese term bushido means "way of the warrior." It referred to the samurai's code of conduct long before a German rapper became famous under this stage name.
    The values idealized by the samurai included courage, honor and, above all, loyalty to one's master. The warriors also had to be willing to sacrifice themselves in battle or through ritual suicide.
    There is no doubt that the samurai demonstrated great courage and martial skill, but to what degree the samurai followed a code of conduct is disputed today. In reality, there was treachery, deceitfulness and disloyalty even among the Japanese warriors. They broke truces, burned villages and slaughtered the people they defeated. They took the heads of their victims as trophies.

    Masks show different emotions at the Noh theater
    In fact, bushido is more of an idealized idea of how the samurai should live their lives. The term only became popular in the late 19th century, when the samurai no longer existed.

    4. The samurai were much more than warriors
    Elite samurai were expected to combine the arts of peace (bun) and war (bu).
    In times of peace, the samurai turned to bureaucratic tasks.
    Samurai children had to study Chinese and Japanese literature and Confucian texts, but they also learned martial skills like archery and horseback riding.
    Many high-ranking samurai devoted themselves to tea ceremonies and painting. Scenes from famous battles, horse races and the Inuoumono "dog hunt," where dogs were shot at, were popular motifs.
    Noh theater, a traditional form of dance drama, was another samurai activity. Noh plays emphasize Buddhist themes and focus on the emotions of a main character tormented by love, anger, or grief.

    5. The samurai were men — but women fought, too
    Women fought alongside the samurai. Nakano Takeko is considered one of the greatest and also the last Japanese female warrior. During the Battle of Aizu in 1868, the 21-year-old led a unit of female fighters armed with rifles against the imperial army.

    Impressive 18th-century samurai armor
    The daughter of a high-ranking official at the imperial court, Takeko was highly educated and trained in martial arts.
    During the Aizu attack, she killed several men before she was hit by a bullet. Legend has it she asked her sister to cut off her head so her body would not be taken as a trophy by the enemy.
    Shortly after the battle, the shogunate — the feudal Japanese military government — fell, leaving the imperial court in charge and ending the era of the samurai.

    This article was originally written in German.
    If I ever get to Berlin...

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    Gene Ching
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  2. #17
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    Samurai Splendor: Sword Fittings from Edo Japan at the Met


    Detail of a blade and Mounting for a Long Sword (Katana)
    EXHIBITION
    Samurai Splendor: Sword Fittings from Edo Japan

    March 21, 2022 – Ongoing
    Now on view at The Met Fifth Avenue , 380
    Exhibitions are free with Museum admission.

    Overview Exhibition Objects

    After almost a century and a half of near-constant civil war and political upheaval, Japan unified under a new ruling family, the Tokugawa, in the early 1600s. Their reign lasted for more than 250 years, in an era referred to as the Edo period, after the town of Edo (present-day Tokyo) that became the new capital of Japan. The Tokugawa regime brought economic growth, prolonged peace, and widespread enjoyment of the arts and culture. The administration also imposed strict class separation and rigid regulations for all. As a result, the ruling class—with the shogun as governing military official, the daimyo as local feudal lords, and the samurai as their retainers—had only a few ways to display personal taste in public. Fittings and accessories for their swords, which were an indispensable symbol of power and authority, became a critical means of self-expression and a focal point of artistic creation.

    This installation explores the luxurious aspects of Edo-period sword fashion, a fascinating form of arms and armor rarely featured in exhibitions outside Japan. It presents a selection of exquisite sword mountings, fittings, and related objects, including maker’s sketchbooks—all drawn from The Met collection and many rarely or never exhibited before.

    This exhibition is made possible by the Vilcek Foundation.
    Arms-amp-Armor-Museum-Exhibits
    Arms-and-Armor-at-the-Metropolitan-Museum-of-Art
    Gene Ching
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  3. #18
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    A Knight's Tale October 22, 2022 – February 12, 2023 Arlington Museum of Art

    A Knight's Tale October 22, 2022 – February 12, 2023
    Arlington Museum of Art



    From the renowned collection of the Museo Stibbert in Florence, Italy, stunning examples of European arms and armor will fill our galleries this winter. One hundred and thirty rare objects, including full suits of armor, mounted equestrian figures, helmets, swords, and other weaponry, tell the tale of the European knight from the Middle Ages and Renaissance through the medieval revival of the nineteenth century.

    The exhibition explores the historical and functional contexts of arms and armor of this period while also highlighting the undeniable craftsmanship, beauty and artistic appeal.
    I've been to the Museo Stibbert. It is one of the most spectacular collections on the planet. Read ARMS & ARMOR MUSEUMS: MUSEO STIBBERT, FLORENCE, ITALY
    Gene Ching
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  4. #19
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    Way of the Sword: Warrior Traditions in China and Italy at Tai Kwun

    Friday, March 12, 2021, 12:00 PDF View
    Cutting-edge show on swordsmanship
    By Rebecca Lo


    Way of the Sword co-curator Hing Chao says the sword can be seen as an instrument used to protect people as opposed to causing harm. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

    If there is one thing the East and West have in common, it is their epic battles and the noble warriors who fought them. As successive Chinese emperors pushed into territories across Asia, the Roman Empire expanded beyond Italy to engulf much of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Conquests would not have been possible without the sword and the expertise it took to wield it with deadly precision.

    Way of the Sword: Warrior Traditions in China and Italy is Tai Kwun’s latest exhibition and chronicles the sword’s impact upon civilization over the years. The show is co-presented by the Institute of Chinese Martial Studies and co-organized by The Martial Art Museum, City University of Hong Kong, International Guoshu Association and Ma’s Tongbei Martial Studies in partnership with the Consulate General of Italy in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Culture Festival, and supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, among others.

    Curators Hing Chao and Roberto Gotti spent two years choosing materials that span two millennia. “The first prehistoric depictions of the sword can be found at Val Camonica, a place where people of different cultures met well before the Silk Roads were established,” notes Chao.


    New media curator Jeffrey Shaw created a range of interactive and immersive multimedia experiences for the Way of the Sword exhibition. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

    The valley in northern Italy’s Alps is the site of Europe’s largest concentration of rock carvings, with etchings of warriors and swords that date back thousands of years. A film capturing the rock carvings in situ can be seen alongside photos on the mezzanine level of Tai Kwun’s Duplex Studio.

    “This is the first multimedia exhibition on the topic combining video and still images,” says Jeffrey Shaw, the exhibition’s new media curator.

    For the first time in Hong Kong, more than 50 ancient swords and over 20 martial arts manuscripts and books dating back to the 16th century are on public display. “The lower level of the Duplex Studio takes visitors through the sword’s history, with the red section displaying Chinese artifacts and the blue section Italian ones,” says Chao. “Joining them in the middle is a white double-sided display case showcasing both cultures. The mezzanine level is devoted to martial arts, with a combination of video and still images.”

    Some of the swords on display are embellished with expensive metal, like gold hilts. Ceremonial armor reinforces the pageantry associated with brave warriors. For example, a 19th-century costume of a Manchu officer assigned to protect the emperor is decorated with dragon designs in gold thread on blue satin silk.


    Costume of a 19th-century Manchu officer assigned to protect the Chinese emperor on display at the Way of the Sword exhibition in Tai Kwun. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

    Achille Marozzo’s Opera Nova dates back to 1528 and outlines the battle postures of Italian Renaissance martial arts through linear drawings. “Opera Nova is our most important artifact here,” states Chao. To bring the manuscript to life, Shaw and Sarah Kenderdine developed Linear Navigator, which allows viewers to watch sword techniques through digital animation.

    On the mezzanine level, film scenes featuring Italian and Chinese martial arts masters demonstrating sword fighting techniques are played on rotation, giving viewers a chance to note the cultural differences between the two. Images by photographer Almond Chu and other Hong Kong artists highlight the power of different weapons as they are wielded.

    “With the rise of gunpowder in China, the sword was eventually replaced by the knife,” says Chao. “The sword can be seen as an instrument of protection, while the knife is an instrument of harm.”

    “Way of the Sword was designed to be an immersive museum experience,” says Shaw. “Sometimes, to understand our own culture, we have to view it through the lens of a foreign one.”
    This one is dated from last year so I don't know if it's still going.
    Gene Ching
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  5. #20
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    More on the exhibit above

    I may not know if it's still going, but the interwebz does...

    Way of the Sword: Warrior Traditions in China and Italy

    Date & Time

    25 FEB - 4 APR, 2021
    11am-8pm
    Location
    Block 01 Duplex Studio and Block 14 G/F

    Free of charge

    The exhibition “Way of the Sword: Warrior Traditions in China and Italy”, curated by Hing Chao and Roberto Gotti, is a multi-dimensional presentation of China and Italy’s warrior and sword traditions from the Classical era through to the Early Modern age. The first mixed-media exhibition of its kind, the exhibition includes over 50 historic swords and polearms, over 20 sixteenth-century martial art manuscripts and books, as well as a range of historic objects related to the martial cultures in China and Italy.

    At the same time, drawing on City University of Hong Kong professor and new media curator Jeffrey Shaw’s world-leading expertise in new media, “Way of the Sword” offers a wide range of immersive and interactive experiences in order to bring viewers through a historic journey of the sword, ultimately arriving at the twenty-first century when historic martial arts in Italy and China converge upon a common path of rediscovery and exchange.

    The exhibition also features photography by Almond Chu, Chinese ink art paintings by Lin Haizhong, Zheng Li, and Lee Chi Ching, as well as a selection of animations and documentary film specially commissioned for this exhibition.

    Audio guide materials* are available at the exhibition entrance (Visitors are reminded to bring their own headphones).

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  6. #21
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    Emblazoned Steel - Chinese Sword Exhibition

    Here's another dated exhibit - it's a modern maker but still worthy of the Arms & Armor Museum Exhibits thread, as well as the Longquan (Dragon Well Forge) thread

    Emblazoned Steel - Chinese Sword Exhibition 29-31 May 2014



    There is a interesting exhibition on in Hong Kong at the moment showcasing the work of Hu Xiao Jun 胡小軍, a famous swordsmith in Longquan at the Galerie Huite which is a beautiful space in the chic Star Street area, which was sponsored by my friend Hing Chao. I had a chance to drop by today and look at some of the swords on display. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to bring a camera but luckily Lancelot Chan, one of the masters who teaches me swordwork and sparring, managed to take some I have enclosed some of his photos here, unfortunately they do not do the exhibition justice. HXJ's works has reinterpreted many of the traditional swords, taking inspiration from different ages, sometimes mixing and matching motifs and adding his own take. There was even one piece which he deliberately left raw and unfinished (somewhat similar to the zombie tools pieces that I have discussed in an earlier post).

    His work is beautiful and sought after by many collectors, but I felt that some of his pieces were not always suitable for practical use as the intricately decorated hilt and shagreen (stingray leather) handles would probably cause blistering. Nevertheless, both Hing and HXJ should be commended for trying to create greater awareness of China's sword making heritage which has been unfairly overshadowed by the Japanese sword makers.







    While all the pieces showed artistic merit, the piece I particularly liked was the sword breaker above 龍鞭 , which was retailing for about $11,000 Hong Kong dollars or about USD1,300. So I am counting my coins in my rainy day jar. All the swords at the exhibition were for sale and ranging from $160,000 to a few thousand dollars for the hunting daggers and knives.

    Hing Chao has also provided some close up pictures to share with my readers and I have also included them here. He also mentioned that there will be further talks and exhibitions in the future so I will keep my readers posted. (Have some trouble uploading will try again)




    A brief Biography of HXW:

    Hu Xiao Jun who also uses the artistic name Sword Village was born in Longquan in Zhejiang village and has loved the Chinese swords from a young age. After graduating from university in 1998, he threw himself into the study of the history of Chinese swords and travelled widely, apprenticing himself to many different masters, learning the design and construction of swords as well as carving and lacquerwork. His study included metallurgy and art of forging swords and heat treatment. His apprenticeship took 8 years and he credits himself with reviving the traditional 鏇焊百煉鋼鍛打技藝 method of forging the Chinese sword.

    Master Hu uses carburized Damascus steel, Wootz steel or bin-gang for the edge, and un-carburized steel, ancient sword fragments, or steel alloy extracted from meteorites to form the core and back of the blade, resulting in a flexible weapon with keen cutting edge.

    In 2005 he set up his own factory, with the expressed aim of furthering the research and making of Chinese swords. His works have their own character, and are unlike any other, and highly sought after by collectors. In 2008 he was requested by Wen Jia Bao to forge a jade encrusted Han Sword 《天威》. He has also had success in the film industry, having produced many weapons for John Woo's movie "The Red Cliff" 《赤壁》、Blood The Last Vampire 《小夜刀》 and Confucius 《孔子》.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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