Close-up of the head and chest of a Samurai warrior in helmet and armor

The Art of the Samurai

Family favorite Suit of Armor and Helmet is a unique object in our collection that looks functional but was actually made in admiration of samurais of the past.

The samurai who ordered or bought this suit admired the samurai warriors and their ideals of faithfulness, loyalty, devotion, and dedication. This suit of armor has many of the traditional elements that older suits might have had and was, therefore, a sign of respect for the past.

Take a closer look at how this suit of armor balances delicate details and symbols of fierceness. Consider what faithfulness, loyalty, and dedication might have meant in 18th century Japan. What does it mean to us today?

Take a Closer Look

This samurai suit of armor was made by multiple Japanese artisans in the 1700s. The armor consists of over 740,000 individual pieces made of a slew of different materials, including silver, iron, lacquer (a clear varnish), leather, silk, and ivory. Look closer at the artwork and investigate the history and details that make it unique.

Creating Together

Connect the historical significance of the Suit of Armor to today’s context. Explore ways you can honor people in your life and the qualities they possess through a work of art in this hands-on creating activity and video prompt. What kinds of outfits, accessories, or wearable art pay respect to someone you admire?

Reading Together

Looking at the Japanese Suit of Armor and Helmet, it’s easy to imagine how it was made to honor past samurai—the materials are valuable and the craftsmanship is remarkable. Expand on your conversation about the artwork by introducing other ways to remember people we admire. We recommend reading this story of loyalty inspired by a dog named Hachiko after looking closely at the Suit of Armor and Helmet. Read along and discuss what loyalty means to you.

Young child posing in makeshift Samurai suit and armor

Image courtesy of Instagram user @ronima78.

Thinking Together

Think about all the parts of a samurai's suit of armor, the importance of the order they were put on, and what makes these suits so special. Learn about the significance of each part of samurai’s armor then create your own miniature helmet in this lesson spark.

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