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Art From Us MUSEUM GUIDE : The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Gallery 378

 The MET : Gallery 378 : Samurai Swords and Daggers

Art From Us, Museum Guide #595

Art From Us presents a must-see Museum Guide daily, where we showcase specific artworks in specific museums – from across the globe. Today, for Art From Us, Museum Guide #595 the spotlight is on the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET) NY’s Gallery 378. Showcasing a collection of Samurai Swords and Daggers.

The three works in focus are :

  1. Spear (Mdung), from 18th – 19th century.
  2. Pair of Stirrups, from possibly 12th – 14th century.
  3. Swords Guard (Tsuba), from 18th century.

The significance of the 3 works chosen for Art From Us, Museum Guide #595

Welcome to the Art From Us, Museum Guide #595. According to the MET Museum, the objects in this gallery “represent the highest achievements of the arts of the Samurai.” Thus, it is only fitting that today we spend some time uncovering the story of the Japanese Samurai.

What is a Samurai?

In Japan, warriors are referred to as samurais. Traditionally, in the pre-modern era of Japanese history, the term was used only to refer to aristocratic warriors. However, with time, the term was used more freely to identify all members of the warrior caste.

Samurais have always had a diverse arsenal of weapons at their disposal. However, the sword is the most symbolic weapon of a samurai.

The Way of the Warrior

Historically, the Japanses warriors have followed an unwritten code of conduct. The principles of this code were later structured into what is now known as Bushidō, which was influenced in many ways by Confucianism.

Some of the principles of Bushidō way of life include :

  • Bravery
  • Integrity and Ethical Behaviour
  • Loyalty to the Master
  • Seppuku 

Seppuku is a term used to describe the manner in which samurais commit suicide. Seppuku is tradtionally practiced as an alternative to accepting defeat or dishonour. Herein, the warrior stabs his sword into his left abdomen, drags the blade across to the right abdomen and turns it upward. Sometimes, the warrior would even pierce his throat. The act is symbolic of deep courage and will power in Japanese culture.

In order to further discover different facets of the Japanese warrior, we encourage you to visit the MET’s stunning collection of Samurai Swords & Daggers.

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