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Lethal Beauty: Samurai Weapons and Armor opens at the Honolulu Museum of Art
Unknown artist of the Kano school, Screens with Scenes from the Tales of Heike, c. 1650-1700. Ink, gold, colors on paper. Courtesy of the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture. Photography by Keiko Tanaka and Monika Jastrȩbiec Czepielewska.

HONOLULU, HI.- An exhibition uniting eight hundred years of Samurai art and artifacts opens June 5 at the second of its six scheduled tour locations, The Honolulu Museum of Art. The exhibition, titled Lethal Beauty: Samurai Weapons and Armor, illustrates the fascinating history of Samurai culture and highlights the dichotomy of weapons that harmoniously combine beauty with death.

International Arts & Artists, a non-profit arts service organization in Washington, D.C., organized Lethal Beauty and its tour. The exhibition opened on the East Coast at the Currier Museum of Art in February before it traveled across the country to Hawaii, where it will be on view until August 18. From Hawaii, it will travel to museums in Texas, Michigan and Alabama before it ends its tour in New York in 2015.

Highlights from the exhibition include 17th-century folding screens and sword fittings. These rare artifacts depict heroic battle scenes from the 12th-century Genpei War, as described in the Tale of the Heike. One of the greatest warrior epics in Japanese literature, the Tale of the Heike signifies the commencement of samurai honor, valor and fortitude. Additional masterworks included in the exhibition are several magnificent blades certified by the Japanese government as “Important Swords.” These swords exemplify the notion of lethal beauty, as each is decorated with elaborate, exquisite designs yet also retains a fatal power.

Lethal Beauty features a total of 63 works by master craftsmen and includes full suits of armor, helmets, warrior hats, face masks, daggers, rifles and swords, among other artifacts. The spectacular creations included in the exhibition span from the 13th to 20th centuries and provide significant insight into the technical and aesthetic qualities intrinsic to Samurai culture.

The exhibition was curated by Dr. Andreas Marks, Director and Chief Curator at the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture.

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