Japanese Mempo/Menpo Samaruai Mask - Bird
Reference No.: 27
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Category: Arms, Armour, and Metalware
Location of Origin: Asia / Japan
Medium/Materials: Iron Lacquer
Dimensions: Mask - 7in (w) x 10in (h) x 5in (d). Glass display case - 12 (w) x12 (d) x18 (h).
Description: An iron mask with a gilded interior. The face has very deep wrinkles on the cheeks and a very large detachable beak shaped nose and a protruding chin. This half mask includes a three-lame throat guard which has been lacquered black.
Presently displayed on a lucite stand within a bespoke glass display case.
Provenance: Private New England Collection
Additional Information: Japanese Samaruai masks are known by many names including; mempo / menpo hanbo / hambo and somen. Menpo/Mempo are face masks that cover only half of the face (the present example is a Mempo) while Somen are full face masks and Hanbo/Hambo are masks that only cover the cheeks.
The samurai were the warrior class in Japan that served to protect the nobility and first appeared in the 9th century. The origins of the Samaruai were considered civilians and had to provide their own weapons and were the first organized army in Japan. Later feudal lords developed their own armies instilling the idea that it was shameful not to have risked ones life in the line of duty and thus the modern idea of the Samurai was created. In the 16th century Jesuit leader Saint Francis Xavier noted that "There is no nation in the world which fears death less."