Menpo Iwai

Superb natural iron menpo of reissei type (fierce expression).

Iwai School – Early Edo 17th century.

This model is typical of the Iwai school and is called Etchu-Bo. Name derived from the honorary title « Etchu no kami » used by the illustrious samurai Hosokawa Tadaoki Sansai (1564 – 1645) who was known to wear this type of menpo in battle.
The characteristics are immediately recognizable with this very particular work in yasurime (parallel incisions) which entirely decorates the mask. uchidashi‘s work is also typical of this school and has great depth, which gives it a well-marked aggressive expression.
The interior of the menpo is lacquered in red urushi and the tare (gorget) is in kiritsuke kozane with navy blue silk lacing.

The Iwai school is one of the oldest schools of gunsmiths in Japan, and was founded by the renowned gunsmith Iwai Yozaemon who lived between the Momoyama era and the beginning of the Edo period.
Thanks to his extraordinary skills, Yozaemon managed to get noticed by the famous warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu who, impressed by the skill of the armorer, offered him to make armor for the s samurai of his clan.
During the Battle of Sekigahara, Ieyasu was so pleased with the armor he wore that he later decided to make Yozaemon the chief armorer of the Bakufu, thus raising him to the highest rank attainable by a Japanese armorsmith.
It was during his activity as head of the Bakufu that Yozaemon became famous by specializing in the production of two very specific types of menpo, including Etchu-Bo, which is probably the most famous and appreciated.


Menpo Iwai Edo japanese armor mask (1)
Menpo Iwai Edo japanese armor mask (2)
Menpo Iwai Edo japanese armor mask (3)
Menpo Iwai Edo japanese armor mask (4)
Menpo Iwai japanese armor mask Edo (6)