Vue de l'exposition "Samouraï, Armure du guerrier"
08 Nov 2011 29 Jan 2012


Armor of the warrior

For the first time in Europe, the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac presents the exceptional collection of Samurai armor from The Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas. The exhibition aims to display the culture, lifestyle and art of the Samurai warrior in Japanese society over almost nine centuries through various types of objects, including full suits of armor, helmets, and full horse armor, used for both battle and ceremonial parades.

About the exhibition

The Samurai belonged to the Japanese intellectual elite and practiced disciplines often contrasting with the violence of the art of combat, such as calligraphy, poetry and literature. Their armorers worked as artists creating beautiful pieces, most with delicate details, which were also capable of protecting the Samurai in the most violent of battles.

The armor of the ancient Japanese warriors, particularly lacquered metal helmets adorned with crests often inspired by nature, were designed to express the warrior's status, to distinguish the different Samurai and also to frighten the enemy on the battlefield.

Through over 140 objects – full suits of armor, helmets, weapons, horse armor and accoutrements – the exhibition shows the evolution of the omote dogu – the external appearance and equipment of the Samurai warrior – from the twelfth to nineteenth century, a period that saw the rise and expansion of the fascinating Samurai culture.

  • curator

    • Gabriel Barbier-Mueller, collector and connoisseur
  • Place:   Mezzanine est
  • TimeSlots:  
    From Tuesday 08 November 2011 at Sunday 29 January 2012
    mardi, mercredi et dimanche de 11h à 19h jeudi, vendredi et samedi de 11h à 21h
  • Closed on monday
    Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday:  10:30 am-07:00 pm
    Thursday:  10:30 am-10:00 pm
  • Public:   All publics
  • Categorie : Exhibitions
Vue de l'exposition "Samouraï, Armure du guerrier"
00:00 / 00:00
Samouraï, armure du guerrier - Bande-annonce de l'exposition
Bande-annonce de l'exposition "Samouraï, armure du guerrier", présentée au musée du quai Branly, du 8 novembre 2011 au 29 janvier 2012. Pour en savoir plus, rendez-vous sur:
2:26 min


  • Kamakura period 1185 - 1333
  • Nanbokucho period 1333 – 1392
  • Muromachi period 1392 – 1573
  • Momoyama period 1573 – 1603
  • The Tokugawa - Edo period 1603 – 1868

[Translate to Anglais:] Parcours de l'exposition

Two horses in full armor mounted by warriors also dressed in armor dating from the Momoyama period (1573 – 1603) to the Edo period (1603 – 1868) greet the visitors at the entrance to the museum.

The Mori Family en Suite collection

This set of objects belonged to the Mori clan, a family of powerful Daimyo (feudal rulers) with origins dating to the twelfth century. After many conquests, the Mori clan became one of the most powerful clans of Japan. The exhibition features eighteen items from this clan, including a suit of armor, bow and arrows, clothing, weapons and equestrian material. It is very unique and rare to have a set of objects en suite and not assembled from different sources that also belonged to the same family, evidenced by the family’s emblem (mon) on each piece. It illustrates the diverse range of accoutrements a Samurai required, as well as the importance of the aesthetics of the objects. This section will also introduce the role of the Bushido Code in the life of a Samurai.

Early Armor (1185 – 1603)

This section shows the pieces of art from the Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), Nanbokucho (1333 - 1392), Muromachi (1392 - 1573) and Momoyama (1573 - 1603) periods. It traces the development of early armor and is accompanied by a history of Samurai culture including the arrival of the first Westerners to Japan.

The objects presented in this section are the oldest works in the collection. They witness the essence of Samurai culture and serve as an introduction to the construction of and the intricate designs incorporated into the armor.

The Tokugawa - Edo period (1603 - 1868)

The majority of the armor in this section is from this period. The Edo period is divided into 3 sub-periods, early (1603 – 1700), mid-Edo (1700 - 1800), and late Edo (1800 – 1868). The story of the Samurai continues and illustrates the progress in the changes in Samurai culture and the development of armor during a time of relative peace. Pax Tokugawa is also discussed in this section: during this period, without the distraction of war, the creation of the armor was raised to a higher art form with exceptional craftsmanship, imagination and great beauty. These exceptional examples of armor were used during the bi-annual processions which led the major Samurai lords from their domain to Edo.

The Art of Battle

The Samurai were masters of war who fashioned clever and effective weapons and armor that provided protection and enabled success in battle. The pieces were designed with equal attention to both their function and form displaying an extraordinary level of creativity and craftsmanship. Several types of weaponry are displayed, including swords and archery equipment. An explanation is given on how the Samurai used these items in conjunction with refined battle tactics to defeat their enemies.

The Samurai Horse

The collection includes various components of equestrian accoutrement, including horse armor, saddles, and very sculptural bamen masks (chanffron or head protection for the horse). This section aims to explore the role occupied by the horse in the world of the warriors and also relates to major battles of the Samurai. A lifesize horse and Samurai rider will be shown in full armor.

Daimyo – Ruling Lords

This section explores how Japan was divided among Daimyo families who ruled in the era of the Samurai. In Japanese, Daimyo means ‘the great name’. The finest and most expensive armors were created for these powerful lords who were ranked in relation to their domain’s rice production capability (measured in koku). Their armor is displayed in this section and visitors will experience the majesty of their presence.