What is Kuwagata of Samurai Armor?
The term "Kuwagata" refers to a type of decoration on a samurai helmet, specifically a type of maedate (front decoration). It was used from the mid-Heian period to the Edo period. During the Heian period, the Kuwagata was attached to the helmet bowl with a string through a Kuwagata-dai (base for the Kuwagata) that was riveted. However, during the Kamakura period, the style of riveting the Kuwagata-dai directly to the helmet and inserting the Kuwagata into the Kuwagata-dai became popular.
Types of Kuwagata
Iron Kuwagata (Tetsu Kuwagata) 鉄鍬形（てつくわがた）
An iron Kuwagata made with the Kuwagata stand, decorated with Unryu Mon or Shigami Mon inlay. It was used from the Heian to Kamakura periods, which gave authority to the Kuwagata. A representative example is the Important Cultural Property ‘Unryu Mon Zogan Iron Kuwagata’ (owned by Shimizu Temple in Nagano Prefecture).
Long Kuwagata (Naga Kuwagata) 長鍬形（ながくわがた）
A slender Kuwagata. It became popular in the late Kamakura period, and after that, the Kuwagata and the Kuwagata stand became separate. A representative example is the Kuwagata of the National Treasure ‘Red Thread Odoshi Armor’ (Umeugyo Kanamono) (owned by Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara Prefecture).
Large Kuwagata (O Kuwagata) 大鍬形（おおくわがた）
A Kuwagata with a wide tip of Yaso. It became popular in the Nanbokucho period. A representative example is the Kuwagata of the National Treasure ‘Red Thread Odoshi Armor’ (Kiku Kanamono) (owned by Kushihiki Hachimangu Shrine in Aomori Prefecture).
Long-tailed Kuwagata (Onaga Kuwagata) 尾長鍬形（おながくわがた）
A large Kuwagata with a long, thin tip of Yaso extended outward. It is said to have been used in festivals during the Nanbokucho period. A representative example is the ‘Largest Kuwagata in Japan’ owned by Yamada Hachimangu Shrine in Sukumo City, Kochi Prefecture (currently stored and displayed at the Sukumo History Museum).
Leaf Kuwagata (Konoha Kuwagata) 木葉鍬形（このはくわがた）
A Kuwagata made to resemble a leaf. It was used in the late Muromachi period. A representative example is the Kuwagata of the Important Cultural Property ‘Colorful Odoshi Haramaki’ (owned by Sata Shrine in Shimane Prefecture).
Three Kuwagata (Mitsu Kuwagata) 三鍬形（みつくわがた）
A Kuwagata with a sword in the center and Kuwagata on the left and right combined to make three Kuwagata. It became popular in the Muromachi period. A representative example is the Kuwagata of the Important Cultural Property ‘Colorful Odoshi Domaru’ (owned by Kagoshima Shrine in Kagoshima Prefecture).”
See more terms related to samurai armor in this samurai armor glossary