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Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Room 37 | Japan 1600-1850 gallery

Discover the arts of the Edo period (1600-1868) from porcelain to lacquer to painting.

Japan 1600-1850 gallery

Samurai in peacetime

‘The arts of both peace and war… should be pursued single-mindedly’

(Buke shohatto (Regulations for the military houses), 1615)

The Edo period (1600-1868) was a time of peace, but samurai continued to be trained in martial arts such as archery, falconry and swordsmanship. Although they had no opportunity to appear on the battlefield, warriors still needed swords and armour for ceremonial occasions and as symbols of personal status. They alone had the right to bear arms. They also had power of life and death over the farmers, artisans and merchants who made up the lower classes.

At the same time, samurai were expected to devote time to the ‘arts of peace’. These included the administration of their provinces, Confucian studies, and traditional arts such as the tea ceremony, Nō theatre, poetry, painting, and calligraphy.

Arts of war

Ceremonial suit of armour for a samurai (LI358.1) Ceremonial suit of armour for a samurai (LI358.1)   Pair of stirrups with star-shapes and karakusa, or scrolling plant pattern (LI1068.1) Pair of stirrups with star-shapes and karakusa, or scrolling plant pattern (LI1068.1)
Long samurai sword, or katana (EA1959.83) Long samurai sword, or katana (EA1959.83)   Short samurai sword, or wakizashi (EA1959.84) Short samurai sword, or wakizashi (EA1959.84)

Arts of peace

Dish with rhododendrons and azaleas (EA1966.219) Dish with rhododendrons and azaleas (EA1966.219)   Tea bowl with aubergines and cross-hatches (EA1991.158) Tea bowl with aubergines and cross-hatches (EA1991.158)   Writing box with landscape (EA1985.54) Writing box with landscape (EA1985.54)
Notice

Objects may have since been removed or replaced from a gallery. Click into an individual object record to confirm whether or not an object is currently on display. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis, so contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular Eastern Art object.

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