Type of Tomb
This tomb belonged to Pharaoh Mentuhotep’s chancellor, Meketre. The tomb of Meketre was a common burial tomb used at the time for officials, a rock-cut tomb. Just as it sounds, the structure of the tomb was carved from existing rock formations. Mostly, the rock architecture is carved from a cliff or sloping rock face. Rock-cut tombs originated in ancient Greece, causing the Egyptian tombs to have Mycenaean influences in their design. So, these types of tombs are seen throughout the Mediterranean.
The Tomb of Meketre
The tomb is located in a main necropolis at Thebes, a very popular destination with many different archaeological sites. Due to this though, there are quite a few looters that hang about the area. Unfortunately, the tomb had been looted multiple times over the generations, but luckily one room had gone unseen until it was discovered in 1919. The room had 25 wooden models, depicting various scenes from everyday life. The purpose of the models was to provide the means to live in the afterlife. With these models, the ancient Egyptians believed that they could then have food and drinks, servants, luxurious clothes, and so much more with models depicting these things. This would allow them to live as or even more lavishly in the afterlife than real life.
Above, this model displays both a bakery and brewery together. The making of bread and beer were quite related in the times of ancient Egypt. They both used the same typical ingredients, grains and barley. Although both had complicated processes, they were still very similar. In this model, an overseer guards the room with a baton. On the right side is the bakery. Here, a man is crushing the grain with a pestle. Others are grinding, working with dough, etc. Next, the other side is the brewery. Overall, what is being shown is the fermentation process, with grain being fermented in the pots.
Next, the model above consists of cattle being fattened up with fodder for slaughter. There are cattle managers feeding the animals as well as an overseer at the entrance. The overseer has a baton and is prepared if an animal decides to try and escape.
Lastly, the model above is one that is often compared to those found in Meketre’s tomb. Again, since many tombs have been raided prior to being found by academics, these models are not easily seen. But, they allow incredible insight to the belief in the afterlife. For example, this one is from the Middle Kingdom and depicts a funerary barge. Much like the previous models, this one is also related to the afterlife. It was believed that these boats would help the deceased to be transported to the afterlife. This would happen while the soul was judged. If one was deemed good, this boat would take them to the “Field of Reeds”. Essentially, that was the afterlife of pure bliss and happiness. Once again, displaying the importance of the afterlife, even in the burials and tombs after one has died.
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The samurai were a military class of strong warriors starting in premodern Japan. They held themselves to high standards of self-discipline and live according to the ethic code of bushido, living “the way of the warrior”. The term samurai was originally used to identify the warriors who were aristocrats, the bushi. Using a wide range of weapons, the samurai needed strong armor in order to protect their bodies. Their main weapon of choice and used as their symbol was the sword. Other weapons included bows and arrows, spears, and guns.
Strongly inspired by Confucian practice, the main concepts include deep loyalty and respect, especially to one’s master. Their deep pride and stoicism was exemplified in their refined behavior while at imperial court. Honor and respect were quite prevalent and harsh, to the point that as opposed to dying dishonorably or by defeat, there was an institutionalized ritual suicide of disembowelment, called seppuku.
With most battles being carried out by calvary with a bow or sword, flexible armor was a must. The flexible armor “Ō-yoroi” or “Great Harness” was developed. The cuirass, or the armor piece that covers the torso, consisted of multiple smaller plates to allow for movement and flexibility. There are two shoulder pieces that fall down to protect any exposed underarm. There would be a lot of exposure when fighting with arms being raised. Then there is a skirt made from the same linked plates that protect both the lower abdomen and thighs. The armor protecting the arms consisted of both mail and solid plates. This allows for the protection to be defensive but suitable for great movements.
Helmets were solid iron plates, not the ones used for the body as it would be more flimsy. Traditionally, the helmets have a pointed shape called ‘shii-nari’, or acorn-shaped. Besides the main iron piece that covers the skull, there are flaps hanging from the top. These are made to protect the neck from injury. The neck guard is called a shikoro. Shikoros are often made of multiple covered plates, normally silk or various leathers.
Samurai Gusokus on Display
Above is a set of ceremonial Gushoku armor but made into a stand. This set comes form the Edo period, one of the most prominent and the height of the samurai. Took place in the 18th century.
This set is quite unique as it is a revival of earlier styles present during the Edo period. But, the overall construction is that of classical 16th century Gushoku. During this time, as you can see, the armor was covered in cloth as it was based off of classical armor. The shape is typical with being boxy in order to allow for the most protection.
Periods of Armor
There are three different periods of gusoku armor: ancient, classical, and modern.
Ancient armor is classified as the armor that was worn up until the 10th century. Unfortunately, not much ancient armor has been preserved. But it is known that there was continental Chinese and Korean influence in the armor.
Classical armor, worn between the 10th and 15th centuries, were considered to be Japan’s ideas and creations brought to life. This is the period in which Japanese armor got its distinct figure and look of the classic gusoku, with the flexible multi-plated protection.
Lastly, there is the modern period of armor. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, this era is the one with most variety in the design of the gusoku. This is when different designs and materials were used most often. This included an increased use of leather and silk coverings.
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