silver, with shakudo and shibuichi, and further decoration in copper, gilding, and enamels
13.5 x 15.5 cm
This very finely worked ornament takes the form of a miniature helmet with a figure of the Buddhist guardian deity Fudo Myo-o as its forecrest, a sword in his right hand and a rope to bind the unrighteous in his left hand. Doji (young male attendant deities) stand to his left and right on either side of the helmet, and the mabisashi (peak), shikoro (neck-guard), and fukigaeshi (turn-backs) are embellished with further symbols of the Buddhist religion: horin (law-wheels), dragons twined around straight swords, and guardian shishi. This is an exceptional example of the best products of the Ozeki Company during its heyday in the 1880s when it employed twenty-four specialists in a wide variety of decorative techniques. Although the identities of the individual artists were deliberately concealed in order to emphasize the Ozeki corporate brand, there is no doubt that the metalworkers involved were former specialists in the manufacture of sword-fittings who changed direction after the samurai privilege or wearing two swords was abolished in 1876.
J. Earle, Splendors of Imperial Japan: Arts of the Meiji period from the Khalili Collection, London 2002, cat. 40, p. 90.