The Art of Samurai Sword Fittings
written by Joe Earl
Museum of Fine Arts Boston | ISBN 9780878467754
Paperback – 256 pages
Member’s price: $44.96
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As the "soul of the samurai," the sword is famously both the symbol and instrument of Japanese military prowess. Less known, at least in the west, is its role as a fashion accessory or status symbol. More than the weapon itself, it was the sword's metal fittings--from the hand guard to the small decorative plates on the hilt--that reflected the complexities of samurai life. Some fittings were meant to convey the honor and self-control expected of a samurai, while other, more flamboyant fittings reflected the samurai's leisure-time persona as "man about town." Later, when the wearing of swords spread beyond the samurai class, both the decorative function of the fittings and the variety of their designs increased, leading to some of the most accomplished metalwork ever created. Now in paperback for the first time, Lethal Elegance presents 150 of these remarkable sword fittings, and is one of the few books to focus on their styles and techniques. It discusses the visual effects achieved with different alloys, the evolution of fittings following changes in warfare, symbolism and standards for connoisseurship. Though these objects were created for violent ends, their variety and beauty also reveal them as wonders of self-expression.