Edo period 1600–15–1868 Japan
lacquer, leather, metal, silk, cotton, hemp, gold pigment, coloured dyes
144.0 x 71.0 x 53.0 cm (overall) (installation)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Acquired, 1889 (460.4-6, 9-12,15-19-D2)
Bushido explores the fascinating world of the samurai who were the warriors, rulers and aristocratic elite of Japanese society for more than 800 years.
From the 12th century through to the end of the Edo period in 1868 the Shogun, regional lords and their warrior retainers (all samurai in their own right) ruled the country and lived to a strict code of ethics. This military aristocracy aspired to a life of spiritual harmony that not only perfected the art of war but also embodied an appreciation of the fine arts that established their life as an art form itself. Throughout these tumultuous times of war and peace samurai virtues of honesty, courage, benevolence, respect, self-sacrifice, self-control, duty, and loyalty combined with their passion for a cultural lifestyle not only established social stability, but also cultivated a legacy of art and culture in Japanese society that continues to this day.
Bushido: Way of the Samurai will focus on samurai as both warriors and men of refined culture. It will showcase the attire of the samurai in the form of armour, helmets, swords and equestrian equipment. It will display the cultural pursuits of samurai in the form of Noh costumes, calligraphic scrolls, lacquer objects and tea utensils and re-live the legacy of bushido through representations of samurai in large screen paintings, dramatic woodblock prints and noble studio photographs.