Tatehagi Dou

Nanban Do restoration

I received this dou in fairly good condition, it’s a rather nice example of a russet naban influenced armour, possibly mid edo period. The body section consists of three sections that wrap around the wearer like a haramaki do. Unlike a Cuirass, there is no black plate and the weight of the do is supported entirely by the watagami that have hinged extended iron lames which tie to a very thick set of himo cords. These cross over from the back to the sides and there is another set that ties from the back around the waist.

Apart from the original tetsu, there was nothing else to be associated with this piece. The other original parts had been discarded due to the odoshi rotting away. So in a way, this was a blank canvas.

The first thing I did was to clean the russet surface to remove the dirt and surface rust, I applied and boiled linseed oil mix and allowed it to dry for a month then I sealed it with a microcrystalline wax to prevent any further rusting. A unique feature of this do is that The kohaze toggles are in fact purely cosmetic as the mune-ita and watagami are in fact one piece. This is a great illusion and 100% custom build. I made a new set of kohaze from buffalo horn and treated them to a few coats of urushi. The abiki cords are silk replacements. The suspension ties are from a budogu supplier and used on kendo do. They actually are ideal.

The inside of the do had lost its liner. I replaced this with 0.3 leather which had a nice grain. I lacquered this in a brown bengara urushi. I also added some patina and distressed the surface to mimic years of wear and tear. The sides were then filled with kokuso and then lacquered over. I then re-laced the mune ita to the mae-do in a dark blue silk odoshi with a mimi-ito woodpecker braid at the edges.

The next stage was to add a gessen section. I had some spares that dated from the momoyama period, unfortunately, a number of them were missing so I had to make replacements. For the replacement lames, I used a 0.6 mild steel which I primed by burning ki-urushi into the surface. The iyozane scales were faked on the original plates and I replicated them by glueing in thin strips of vellum with a thick urushi. These steps were filled with kokuso and sabi-urushi and cut back until they were smooth. I then coated the fronts in a stipple effect called tataki-nuri and lacquered the plates in black urushi and laced them with a dark blue silk odoshi.

Now I needed a way to attach the gessen sections to the do. Judging by the holes on the do there had originally been a belt in place. I decided to keep with this but to use material rather than odoshi for the yurugi-ito. I had some vintage asa hemp cloth and some silk that would be suitable, the colours also complimented the russet iron on the do. Each section was cut and edged with a green sasaberi. I made the belt from rawhide which was covered in deer skin and lacquered black. I attached this to the do with leather ties and after adding some patina the project was finished.

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