Iron model of a carp, made by Muneyori

Japan
Meiji era, late 19th century AD

After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, many makers of iron helmets adapted their skills to modelling animals such as fish, reptiles, beetles, shellfish, dragons and other mythical creatures. The same techniques used in riveting curved pieces of metal together to form armour were employed to create feathers and scales. The models thus formed are astonishingly flexible and can be moved into different positions.

The British Museum has a group of these objects including a dragon, a pheasant, a crab, a snake as well as a crayfish and this carp. Most of the pieces were made by later members of the Myōchin family of armour component makers. This one is signed Muneyori.

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Museum number

Asia HG765

JCR10721

Gift of Professor and Mrs John Hull Grundy

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