Mask for horses
Leather, paper and lacquer
Japan, Edo period (1603-1868), ca. 18th-19th century
H. 21¾ in (55cm) x W. 11 in (27.5cm)
This chanfron, a mask for horses called bamen in Japan, was used to protect a horse’s face on the battle field. The design of the mask needed to be powerful to intimidate the enemies. This lacquer bamen takes the form of a fierce dragon’s head, with golden horns, sharp teeth and flared nostrils. The overall surface is finished in black textured lacquer, with the lips, nostrils and ears lacquered red. The materials are leather, paper and lacquer. These materials were used to make the mask light, but at the same time strong enough to protect the animal. During Edo, a period of peace, these horse masks were used as ornamentation for parades.