“Lords of the Samurai reinforces the Asian Art Museum’s reputation for providing quality exhibitions compromising outstanding artworks that tell remarkable stories,” says Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum. The current exhibit continues the Asian’s remarkable series of stunning exhibits; further cementing its status as a world-class institution. The works displayed come from the collection of the Hokosawa family, one of Japan’s most respected, erudite and long-lived military clans. They strove to embody the ideal characteristics of the warrior elite by pursuing achievements in two areas: culture (bun) and arms (bu).
The current head of this 700-year old family, Hosokawa Morihiro attributes the preservation of their collection to luck. However, a great deal of the credit must also lay in past generations' politically astute choices. There are over 160 objects in the exhibit, seven of which have been designated important Cultural Properties, the highest award given by the Japanese government. None of these objects have been seen outside Japan; the depth and breadth of the collection is spectacular.
For a guy take on the exhibit plus photos of the absolutely fabulous armor, guns and weapons, read:
SF Mike: http://sfciviccenter.blogspot.com/
Matty Boy: http://lotsasplainin.blogspot.com/
For further reading: Ruth Benedict, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword. Patterns of Japanese Culture.
For background on the culture that preceded the Shogunate: Ivan Morris. The World of the Shining Prince (The Tale of Genji)
Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St, San Francisco. 581-3500
other images courtesy of the Asian Museum