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Lot 66. An iroiro odoshi ni-mai do gusoku (variegated lacing two-piece cuirass armor), Edo period, 17th centuryEstimate $100,000 - $150,000. Price Realized $137,000. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2016.

The armor comprising:
Helmet [kabuto]: black lacquered sixty-two plate suji bachi (ridged helmet) with signature Nobuie saku, and kao(personal emblem), with date Tenbun sannen sangatsu kichijitsu (an auspicious day in 1534), with gilt shinodare (four sets of pendant arrow shaped decorative pieces), a gilt ring at the rear for an agemaki (decorative silk bow), octagonal cusped gilt hachimanza (decorative surround to aperture at the crown), the cusps divided by piercings with eight different blossoms in relief on a nanako ('fish-roe') ground, with four upper tiers of chrysanthemum profile of gilt, silver and shakudo, the bowl with four hibiki-no-ana (small holes adjacent to protruding rivets with vestiges of textile),mabisashi (brim) with grass pattern around a central section with seaweed pattern, gilt fukuri (edging) engraved with scrolling
Neck guard [shikoro]: manju shikoro (neck guard) of kebiki-odoshi (close-laced) gold-lacquered shittsuke-zane(plate in semblance of individual lamellae), the lower tier with gilt hasso-gane (decorative metal pierced strips) on which gilt fan and moon mon (family badge), yuen-nari no soeita (cusped gilt fittings) at the ends of the lower tier, with fukigaeshi matching the mabisashi and with gilt mon of fan and moon, kuwagata-dai (fixture for stylized horns) of shakudo pierced and carved with chrysanthemums on a gilt base with two round-headed rivets, central mon, gilt copper kuwagata, maedate (fore crest) of minogami (fabulous turtle with a tail) of wood, black, red, and gold lacquer
Face mask [menpo]: russet iron ressei style menpo (lower face mask) with red lacquered lips, silvered teeth, and spreading moustache, the nose section detachable, three-tier yodare-kake with mon on the lower tier 
Cuirass [nimai-do]: two-piece cuirass with shittsuke-zane of variegated close lacing of pale green, purple, and blue, two-tier kobire of shittsuke-zane, around the waist with decorative profile, and areas of black lacquered on a polished orange lacquer ground, gilt hasso-kanagu to the mune-ita (upper breast section) and ushiro tate-age (upper section at rear), with gilt ring for the large red agemaki bow, the watagami, with hinged covers fort the connections to themunaita in the form of myoga (Japanese ginger)
Sleeves and shoulder guards [kote and sode]: sleeves black-lacquered iron shino-gote (splint sleeves), the splints longitudinally corrugated, on the upper arms two black lacquered iron plates with applied gilt flowering plum boughs,chu-sode (medium shoulder guards) matching the other laced components, kusazuri (skirt) of three tasset to front and four to rear five in five tiers, under the central tasset a blue and gold brocade silk pouch with hanabishi (stylized flower) and kotubuki character (longevity)
Thigh protector and lower leg guards [haidate and sune-ate]: thigh protector an Iyo haidate with rectangular plates lacquered alternatively in black and gold sets of five forming chequered squares, lower leg guards of shino(splint) type matching the sleeves
Signal baton [saihai]: paper signal baton with red-lacquered haft
Gloves [tebukuro]: pair of gloves with embossed mon
Scabbard supports [koshi-ita]: two sword scabbard supports with braid cords
Box: in its armour box with paper label 'Lord Yoshitada', and the Akita Bijutsu Club auction number 7.
Documents: various documents relating to the ownership by the daimyo Satake Yoshitake and the purchase of the armour in 1927 in an Akita Art Club auction, illustrated in the catalogue.

Provenance: Satake Yoshitada (1695-1715)
Satake Family, Akita Prefecture

Literature: Akita Bijutsu Club, Akita ko kacchu zuroku (Catalogue of armor collection of the Marquis Satake family) (Akita: Akita Bijutsu Club, 1927), no. 7.

Exhibited: Akita Bijutsu Club, "Akita ko uritate tenran" (Auction preview of the armor collection of Marquis Satake family), 1927.9.14-15.

NoteThe Satake family descended from the Heian period Minamoto no Yoshimitsu, who was given land in Mutsu province and Satake village in Hitachi province during the Heiji disturbances of the eleventh century. The family continued through to the end of the Edo period through various changes in fortune, but always prominent in military and political activities. But although they did not take part in the battle of Sekigaraha (1600) the family had served Hideyoshi and were in close communication with Ishida Mitsunari whose forces were defeated by Tokugawa Ieyasu in that battle. In retribution for this Ieyasu sent the Satake to far-off Akita in Dewa province as Tozama, and reduced their income from 700,000 koku to around 200,000 koku.

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The present armor illustrated in the catalogue of armor collection of the Marquis Satake family, Akita, 1927, no. 7.

Yoshitada (1695 - 1715) became the fourth generation daimyo of Kubota Han in Dewa, one of the four domains held by the Satake. He was introduced to the shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi at the age of 8 years in 1703, and following his father's death in the same year, inherited the title. In 1711 the shogunate permitted him to leave the Satake mansion in Edo and take up residence in Kubota castle in the family domain in Dewa province (Akita). There he worked hard to revive the economy of the domain with tree plantation, attempts to re-open old copper mines, and various social reforms, but to little avail. His efforts were thwarted by his Edo mansion being burned to the ground. He died at the young age of just twenty, but is remebered for his nobility of character.

The highly decorative yet entirely functional armour is in keeping both with the gorgeous fashions of the Genroku era (1688 - 1704), and with the position of the Satake as one of the oldest and warlike samurai clans. It is most likely that he wore the armour in 1711 when he entered Kubota castle for the first time. The family mon of an open fan with the emblem of the moon was in use from the Heian period until the abolition of the samurai system in the Meiji period, and is recorded in the Azuma Kagami of 1189.

Christie's. AN INQUIRING MIND: AMERICAN COLLECTING OF JAPANESE AND KOREAN ART, 15 April 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza