There be dragons here …

The beauty is in the movement…

Stories from the Museum Floor

In times of peace, how do highly skilled makers of armour fill their time? This was the plight of the Japanese metalsmiths during the Edo period.

Jizai Okimono translates literally as ‘move freely decorative object’. They are small articulated iron figures of animals, but can also be made from copper, silver and gold alloys. Fully articulated of both limb and body, this enables them to imitate all the movements of their natural counterparts – and it was these that arms makers created both to demonstrate and maintain skill in quiet periods. Even the scales on dragons are reminiscent of Samurai armour.

They represent craftsmanship of the highest quality. The earliest known dated example is a dragon bearing a line-engraved signature of its maker Myochin Muneaki dated 1713, during the middle Edo period.

Manchester Museum also has an impressive dragon, and the magic is in the movement!

Filmed as part of…

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