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An ovoid-shaped Chinese Ming period porcelain jar painted in rich blue around the sides with two five-clawed dragons among clouds and with rocks and waves below. Round the shoulder a stylised shou (long life character) seems to grow out of the lotus scrol

Extraordinary Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Royal Collection

Iwai Yozaemon (active 1610)

Armour (domaru) c. 1610

RCIN 71611

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This full suit of armour was sent to James I (1566–1625) by the Japanese Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada (1579–1632) in 1613. The king and shogun had been in contact since the Clove, the first East India Company ship to reach Japan, arrived with a letter addressed to 'the highe and mightie Prince the Emperour'. James was curious about how the country was governed, and from this time received regular reports through the Company describing 'these farthest parts of the world'.

The armour, with another, formed part of the lavish gifts exchanged with the Emperor at this time, and was brought back to England by Captain John Saris. It was designed by Iwai Yozaemon in about 1610 and includes a helmet, mask, shoulder pads, sleeves, thigh guards, shin guards, breast plate, back plate and skirt section.