black and gold helmet in the form of a dragonfly, with its tail extending upward; two large gold eyes; two removable dull gold pairs of wings; thick braided purple silk cord tie at neck

Helmet in dragonfly shape, 17th century

Unknown artist, expand_more
G219expand_more

During the 15th and 16th centuries, Japan's feudal families vied for supremacy, amassing vast armies to ensure their dominion and to conquer weaker neighbors. High-ranking lords began to embellish their helmets with sculptural forms so that they could be visually located on the battlefield. Exotic helmets (kawari kabuto) also allowed leaders to choose symbolic motifs for their helmets that reflected some aspect of their personality or that of their collective battalions. This helmet is shaped like a giant dragonfly. In Japan, the dragonfly is symbolic of focused endeavor and vigilance because of its manner of moving up, down and sideways while continuing to face forward. In addition, in ancient texts Japan was often referred to as Akitsushima (Land of the Dragonflies), because of their abundance. They were also thought to be the spirits of rice, since they are often to be found hovering above the flooded rice fields.

Details
Title
Helmet in dragonfly shape
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2012.31.1a-c
Curator Approved

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black and gold helmet in the form of a dragonfly, with its tail extending upward; two large gold eyes; two removable dull gold pairs of wings; thick braided purple silk cord tie at neck