Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Japanese Armor

In textile conservation this week, we are getting started on Japanese armor for a 2017 exhibition.  This is the top of a kote, a piece like a sleeve to protect a samurai’s arms.  It ties to the main body of the armor, the do, with the purple cords visible on the left (which is the top edge of this kote when worn).  The exposed silk brocade fabric has been badly damaged and a large piece was lost.  A patch of silk fabric has been dyed to blend in with the original and was inserted under the original fabric.  The loose threads were aligned as close to their correct positions as possible and pinned down with very fine stainless steel pins.  When everything is in position, it is stitched in place using a technique called laid-thread-couching.  The right side and upper edges of the patch have been stitched in place.  The left side and lower edges are still to go, pinned down.

Japan, Suit of Armor; Arm and Armor, 19th century, 1881.152