Lethal Elegance: The Art of Samurai Sword Fittings

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MFA Publications, 2004 - Antiques & Collectibles - 256 pages
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As the soul of the samurai, the sword is famously both the symbol and the instrument of Japanese military prowess. Less known, at least in the West, is its role as a fashion accessory or status symbol. And more than the weapon itself, it was the sword's metal fittings that reflected the complexities of samurai life, from codes of honor to flamboyant leisure - and that remain among the most sophisticated and accomplished metalwork ever created.
Lethal Elegance presents 150 of these remarkable sword fittings, and is one of the few books in a Western language to focus on their styles and techniques. It discusses the visual effects achieved with different alloys, the evolution of fittings following changes in warfare, the symbolism of motifs, and standards for connoisseurship. Nearly all these fittings were once owned by trained swordsmen, and the weapons they ornamented could surely inflict fatal wounds. But their extraordinary variety and beauty also reveal them as wonders of self-expression and personal style.

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As the soul fo the samurai, the sord is famously both the symbol and the instrument of Japanese military prowess. Less known, at least in the west, is its role as a fashion accessory or status symbol ... Read full review

Contents

Directors Foreword
9
Note to the Reader
25
IRON TSUBA FROM THE FIFTEENTH TO THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
33
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Joe Earle is Chair of the Department of Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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