‘Samurai’: Art in focus


“Samurai: The Warrior Transformed” features swords and sword-handle guards (or tsuba) as well as several suits of armor. (Rebecca Drobis/National Geographic)

Read my review of the show, and check out a selection of images after the jump.


Samurai were known for their bravery. This chest plate with the crouching dragon design has the inscription “tatenashi-no-yoroi,” on the interior meaning “armor that needs no shield.” (Rebecca Drobis/National Geographic)

The crouching dragon is just one of many icons from nature associated with samurai virtues. Another popular motif was the cherry blossom, a symbol of the fleeting nature of life. (Rebecca Drobis/National Geographic)

Samurai were brave, but not foolhardy. As with any self-respecting knight, this metal mask protected the warrior’s face. (Rebecca Drobis/National Geographic)

While renowned as swordsmen, Japan’s samurai originated as archers, as evidenced by the quiver of arrows carried by the warrior in the back of this double portrait. (Library of Congress)

Like modern-day samurai, Kyoto’s fire department trainees are outfitted in uniforms evoking the feudal Japanese warriors’ armor. (Michael Yamashita)
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Michael O’Sullivan has worked since 1993 at The Washington Post, where he covers art, film and other forms of popular — and unpopular — culture.

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