Okegawa Dou Gusoku
I was approached by a gentleman that had previously procured a Kabuto from a dealer. I recognised the helmet as I had been commissioned by the dealer to re-lace the shikoro. The present owner wanted to source an armour to match his helmet so we arranged a meeting. Sourcing an off-the-peg suit would be extremely difficult so we opted to match items from my store that could be re-lacquered and re-laced to make a completely matching suit. After hunting around I came up with three sets of armour that I thought would suitable. My client picked the one he liked the most and I undertook the commission.
The first thing I do was to completely strip the armour down to its bare components. I could then work out what needed to be repaired. Most of the armour required lacquer repairs, I undertook these by correcting all the cracks and chips and then coated the surface of each plate with black urushi.
I chose some dark blue vintage silk for the kote, haidate and suneate. The lace would be dark blue and it would be edged with a mimi-ito woodpecker braid.
What followed was nearly eight months of restoration work. Everything had to be hand sewn. The photographs below will outline most of the work I had to do in stages, so this is going to have a lengthy gallery to view.
The end result was very nice, the whole armour matched as if it had always been together. My client was very pleased with the outcome.
Mengu, Do and Sode
I’ve referred to this armour as an okegawa do, but the tateage section of the do is made from kiriskue. I believe the do to be dated momoyama jidai and that the do has been customised using recycle lames from a large earlier sode. The holes had been plugged and were originally intended to be laced in the kebiki style. Therefore this is a mixed do and should be categorised as dangae-do 段替胴. I had a spare hanpo half mask that was customised with a wild yak hair goatee. The original tare had lost most of its lacquer so I relacquered it to match the mask. With the armour being nearly completely black and blue the white yak hair really made a focal point and raised the character of the armour. I stripped down all the parts of the do, sode and gessen and relacquered them. I then made at a batch of 8.5mm dark blue odoshi on my machine and laced the sections in the sugake odoshi style.
The Sangu / Haidate, Kote and Suneate
Correcting the sangu of an armour is one of the most demanding undertakings. The disassembly, repairs and reassembly can take weeks of hand sewing. These next photos provide an overview. In order to make the sangu match, I had to replace the fine upper silk material, The chain mail has to be anchored in place by stitching it to the base material which is underneath the silk, this also has layer of hand made washi paper in place to prevent the stitches from pulling through the material. I used vintage silk and Asa hemp for the repairs.