Since its last exhibition on samurai in 2003, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria has received the following donations: five significant samurai suits of armour, two helmets and a number of other related paraphernalia.
This exhibition will showcase these newly acquired works of art. In total, there will be twelve suits of armour and twenty-three helmets on display.
The samurai of old Japan were amongst the world’s greatest and most courageous warriors as well as being amongst the most cultured. The samurai followed a strict cope of behaviour, which came to be known as Bushido or the way of the warrior. The samurai’s life was directed by righteousness. He must not disgrace his status and must live up to the honour and specific obligations, which were expected of him. The samurai had a tremendous sense of moral obligation or duty and loyalty to his lord, to his family and to society. Martial bravery was very important to the samurai. He glorified in his military skills and his honour as being a warrior and a descendant of warriors.
The exhibition will include some newly acquired prints illustrating the life and times of samurai as well as prints of the famous story of the 47 Ronin (one of Japan’s greatest samurai tragedies). Other works of art include scroll paintings of samurai and boy’s day festival items related to the samurai theme. The highlight of the exhibition will be the newly acquired samurai suits of armour, a major new sword and a painting attributed to the greatest samurai general of all, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98).