I was able to take a tour into San Antonio Museum of Art’s new exhibit called Lethal Beauty. I could not take pictures (pictures are not allowed).
One of the most beautiful parts of the Samurai armor is the helmet. They are decorative with faces of creatures, symbols, and horns. They use precious metals such as gold and silver to adorn the helmets.
In the early days of of armor design the helmets were very plain and were simply metal rivets wielded in a bowl shape. Only later they developed and became more individualized. Unlike European armor Japanese armors varied person to person. There was no single uniformed issued by their lord. That is why many Samurai wore flags attached to their backs to be able to tell friend from foe.
Samurai used swords, naginata, bows and arrows, and other similar weapons. The rifle was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the early 1500’s. They are called matchlock rifles. Japan made their own rifles with beautiful motifs of flowers and beasts. They are long and had small sphere bullets.
Some armors had parts that came from other armor sets. Some samurai took pieces of armor from the fallen after a battle. After the 17th century the civil war in the country ceased and armors became collected and used in ceremonial events. Samurai had to sell their armors to survive since they were no longer being paid. In this time the merchant class rose as the Samurai class fell. This is reflected in the anime Samurai 7 based of the old Japanese movie Seven Samurai.
The exhibit features swords, five full suits of armor, weapons used by police, helmets, masks, rifles, and more. Its worth the visit if you like Samurai and Japanese culture. They do have information about the artifacts posted so you can learn about them.