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Articulated model dragon, signed by Myochin Kioharu
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One of many images of dragons from different cultures in the Museum, this dragon comes from Japan. The fall of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1867 brought an end to the traditional warrior-based politics of Japan. As demand for armour decreased, many blacksmiths adapted their skills to making articulated iron models of animals. These were probably ornaments placed in the tokonoma (an alcove in the reception room of a house). They are astonishingly detailed and were created to display the technical virtuosity and artistic expertise of the maker.

The techniques used to rivet curved pieces of metal together to form armour were particularly effective when replicating feathers or scales, so animals such as fish, reptiles, beetles, shellfish, dragons and other mythical creatures were popular choices. The dragon’s scales are reminiscent of the metal scales of samurai armour, and its neck, body, tail, legs and each individual claw are movable.

Articulated model dragon, signed by Myochin Kioharu


From Japan, XVIII-XIX century AD.
L. 34,5 cm.
Gift of Professor and Mrs. John Hull Grundy.



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