Today I went to an exhibition at the Met called Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156-1868. It has given me a new appreciation for how absolutely insane Japanese culture is. First, let’s take a look at some of the different helmets that Samurai might wear into battle:
If you were to ask “Lindsay, isn’t one of those helmets done up to look like a swallow’s tail? And is the other one a set of crabs claws?” you’d be absolutely correct. Apparently the Samurai helmet was the early equivalent of taking your shoe off and banging it on your desk at the UN – an attempt to intimidate your enemy by convincing them that you were crazier than they were.
Their armor certainly suggests that. Granted, to a jaded 21st century dweller, it looks like the sort of costume a psychopathic midget who worships the Village People might wear (the armor dates back to the Middle Ages and the Japanese were quite short back then), but I can only imagine how exceptionally nutty it would look when combined with a very sharp sword.
If you look closely at the images below you’ll notice a few things. First, everyone’s wearing a mask to look a little crazier – although the mustaches undermine it. Second, the guy with brown hair actually does have hair coming out of his helmet-there’s some sort of animal pelt there; a different set of armor (not shown) actually had long, flow, dyed red hair attached to it. Finally, the red outfit suggests where Darth Vader comes from.
Go to the exhibition if you get the chance!