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Samurai help - monkey mempo

Discussion in 'Japan' started by The Riveteer, Mar 11, 2022.

  1. The Riveteer Active Member

    This mask/mempo? has popped up in a few books I have from Japan. Unfortunately I can't read them so am at a loss. Can anyone identify what exactly it is and who it belonged to? It looks too flimsy for a helmet and too helmety for a mempo - I guess at a helmet liner but I've not heard of such before.

    MONKEY MEMPO (6).jpg MONKEY MEMPO (3).jpg MONKEY MEMPO (1).jpg 20220310_135253.jpg

    Before anyone says they remember buying one of these at Woolworths some time ago, the books are well respected and detailed photo collections of various armours, many I suspect from Japanese Museum reproductions.

    Nap likes this.
  2. Banjer A Fixture

    One for Yellowcat, methinks, if he doesn't know, no one does.

  3. Nap Moderator


    Agree there Bill .....the samurai man

  4. yellowcat A Fixture

    Hi David,

    The article indicates on the second picture is roughly translated as follows:

    Izushi Shrine collection (出石神社蔵)

    The design is unparalleled in terms of surprise. A helmet that accompanies the leather wrapping toseigusoku worn by Hidehisa Sengoku's (仙石秀久)vassal, Shusui Tanizu (谷津主水), in the Siege of Osaka. Because it is made with tension, it weighs only 1.2 kg. While many helmets weigh 3 to 5 kilograms, they are as light as Jinkasa (Samurai hat). It is said that monkeys are better, and they are quick to handle. It's only natural that you want to survive dangerous situations on the battlefield and get credit for success. One of the aims is that if you wear such a helmet, because the face is completely hidden when worn, there was an eerie feeling that the wearer's identity was unknown. You will not be able to tell whether you are an elderly military commander or a young military commander. The armorer must have a hard time to respond to the request to make such a helmet from the orderer.

    helmet17_l (1).jpg DVcS2DyU8AEPEyt.jpg

    Shusui Tanizu's "Sarumen Kabuto" 谷津主水所用の兜『猿面形兜』


    Similar monkey mempo

    Saru Monkey Mempo. 18th Century, Momoyama-Edo Period

    1.jpg 2.jpg

    From the Bonhams auction, New York September 15, 2015

    A FESTIVAL HELMET DESIGNED AS A MONKEY - Edo period (late 18th century)
    Sold for US$ 9,375

    The simple iron bowl formed at the front as a monkey's face lacquered red and black, the top covered in horse hair, mounted with a three-lame shikoro with small fukigaeshi, lacquered red and laced in blue

    m2.png m1.png m3.png
    Tecumsea, Nap and Martin64 like this.
  5. Wayneb A Fixture

    Man....Yellowcat knows his stuff.....I thought for sure it was Voodoo........
    Nap likes this.
  6. Nap Moderator

    Hi Felix

    Thanks for replying , amazing item and information

    Appreciate your time

    Thread moved to "Japan" in the Uniform Information forum

  7. The Riveteer Active Member

    Thanks Yellowcat, much appreciated.

    I had heard about a monkey kabuto used at Osaka but always thought the pics I posted looked too fragile. The picture you quoted as belonging to Shuzui Tanizu solves that, but I had previously heard that the owner of a monkey mask at Ozaka was Tanitzu Mondo (also identified as a retainer of Hidehisa Sengoku). That must be the same samurai, right?
    I assume all the other examples are merely ceremonial masks but the last example you give, with the shikoro attached, actually looks the most serviceable for battle usage. Any more info on that one?

  8. yellowcat A Fixture

    Hi David,

    I think they are the same person. I don't have any more info for that particular one with the shikoro. I found a better picture of the mempo and a hundred year old picture. It looks like it still had hair when the picture was taken.


    Martin64 likes this.
  9. yellowcat A Fixture

    Illustrations showing how the armour would look like. May be I should do a figure base on that.



    Nap, Martin64, The Riveteer and 2 others like this.
  10. The Riveteer Active Member

  11. yellowcat A Fixture

    Just come across a Japanese auction site and they have a monkey mempo in their catalogue.

    monkey mask1.jpg

    monkey mask4.jpg
    Nap and Banjer like this.

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