Celebrating the samurai

Portland Art Museum celebrates Japanese culture in new exhibit

By Jenny Wasson / The Bulletin

Published Sep 20, 2013 at 05:00AM

One can imagine that the Japanese samurai in full regalia was a sight to behold on and off the battlefield. A symbol of prestige, income and status, the armor was at times both functional and stylistic.

This fall, Portland Art Museum will transport visitors back to the time when samurai reigned supreme with “Samurai! Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection.” In its only West Coast venue, the traveling exhibition runs Oct. 5 to Jan. 12 in Portland.

For more than 25 years, collectors Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller have been fascinated with the pageantry and artistry of the Japanese samurai. In 2012, they opened The Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum in Dallas, Texas to house their vast collection. According to the museum's website, it is one of the largest collections of samurai objects in the world.

The traveling exhibition focuses on “battle gear made for high-ranking warriors and daimyo (provincial governors) of the 14th through 19th centuries,” according to the news release. The approximately 140 objects on display include full suits of armor, helmets and face guards, weapons, horse trappings and other battle gear.

According to the new release, highlights include “helmets of lacquered metal adorned with emblems often inspired by nature — which signaled the status of the wearer, differentiated samurai from each other, and also frightened the enemy on the battlefield; armored horses carrying combat-ready samurai; and a full ensemble of armor and ceremonial jackets worn by the high-ranking samurai of the Mori family.”

Tickets for the special exhibit are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors (ages 55 and older) and students (ages 18 and older with school identification), plus fees. Children (ages 17 and younger) receive free admission. For more tickets and information, visit www.portland artmuseum.org or contact 503-226-2811.