Tangible Cultural Property Designated by Akita City: Black-Lacquered Armor Set with Deep-Blue Threads in Sugake Stitches

Used by Yoshishige Satake (the 20th-generation head of the Satake family) and donated by Tomonori Takeshima.

This armor has a unique decoration on the helmet. The front part represents a hairy caterpillar and the lateral parts black bird feathers. The representation of a hairy caterpillar has three meanings:

1) A hairy caterpillar eats “leaves,” which is homonymous with “blades (ha)” in Japanese.

2) A hairy caterpillar never moves backwards and a Satake samurai should never retreat.

3) Hairy caterpillar is pronounced “kemshi,” which sounds like “Gemji,” from which the Satake family was descended.

On the inner side of the helmet is an inscription that reads “Made by Yoshihisa (master artisan) on a good day of October of the fifth year of the Temmon Period (1536).” The body, tassets, sleeves, and other parts of the armor set are made of black-lacquered iron plates jointed with deep-blue threads. The gauntlets and shin guards are also black-lacquered.

This armor set was probably used by Yoshishige Satake (1547–1612), the 20th-generation head of the Satake family, who had a large territory in Hitachi province and was the father of Yoshinobu Satake, the first Satake lord to rule the Akita (Kubota) domain. It is representative of armor sets of the Momoyama era (1568–1600), with its solid construction, body parts in the domaru style, and innovative designs such as the extraordinary finesse of the decorations on the tassets and sleeves.


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