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This is a really nice Somen or Japanese full face mask. A fantastic metal art form with the whole surface patinated to a very deep russet iron finish. The metal has been worked to create wrinkles in the forehead, nose and cheeks. There are rope shaped eyebrows and fierce looking eyes. The mask is made up of five forged pieces that are riveted together. The inside is a red lacquer, with some small chipping on edges as to be expected; see pictures. There is a signature under the chin of which patina has grown over so it is almost illegible.
This genuine somen, Japanese full face mask was made by the late master Fukutake Ichiro (1928 – 2002). Ichiro signed his masks with a Ryu character which is rare to find as his signatures are often defaced or removed to conceal the true age in order to be sold as an older item. Ichiro is recognized as the most talented of Gendai smiths in the art of embossing. His works are of such high quality that many of his masks are now in collections of museums around the world, the Metropolitan Museum of New York, and have been sold at the major auction houses. He lived and worked in the Kurashiki area of Okayama.
Manufactured during the 20th century, 1950s to 70s. Fukutake Ichiro was one of the last true traditional Armour makers in Japan. His somen are inspired by the work of Myochin. His face masks are works of art, that are equal to, if not better than, some Edo period examples. Many are said to be on display in museums in Japan as 16th to 18th century examples. His pieces, and somen in general, are getting quite difficult to find. They are very collectible. The silk lacing was recently restored to new as ordered by the prior owner.
8 3/4″ h x 8″ w
22.2 cm h x 2.8 cm w
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