AB 60-11


  • AB 274 Samurai doll (front)
  • AB 66-19 Kaiken
  • AB 61-2 Kabuto (front)
  • AB XX 80 Tsuba (side A)
  • AB 60-10 b Stirrup
  • AB 1131 d Miniature Katana and Shoto
  • AB 625 Katana & Scabbard
  • AB XX 133 Mace
  • AB 955 b (front)
  • AB 928 Tsuba (front)
  • AB 60-11 Samurai Doll (front)
  • AB 59-5 Samurai on Horseback Doll
  • AB 1131 j Arrows & Stand (both)
  • AB 1131 b Suit of Armor
  • AB 360 Horse (front)
  • AB 965 b-e Sword Caps
  • AB 60-2 e Shoto Sword
  • AB 604 g Arrowhead
  • AB 61-1 Samurai Armor
  • AB 60-2 c Sword

Kodomo no Hi Did you know?

What is it?
Samurai Doll
What is it made of?
Metal/Wood/Paper/Lacquer/Silk/Cord/Composition (dolls)
Where is it from?
When was it made?
Object ID
AB 60-11

This doll, likely intended for display during Kodomo no Hi (Children's Day, originally Boys' Day), represents a samurai warrior on a white horse. The figure stands on a black laquered wood base with a painted gold floral motif on the front. The samurai is dressed in full armor and trappings, including turquoise silk trousers (now mostly faded to white), a breastplate, and armor panels of black lacquer laced with red and turquoise blue cord. His long katana sword and spear, once carried under his left arm, are now missing. The horse is white with gray patches above the hooves to the knee and on its nose. The saddle panels are purple and yellow, the reins are purple and white cord, and the harness is red cord. There is a rose-pink fringe apron around the horse. A knobby pine tree with a purple-brown trunk and green pine needles is attached to the base on the right, behind the horse.

There is some speculation that this samurai might represent the warrior Kagasua, who fought in the Genpei War (1180-1185) for the Genji (aka Minamoto) clan. According to legend, during the heat of battle, with arrows flying around him, he broke off a branch of plum blossom and inserted it into his quiver. This action exemplifies one of the key aspects of bushidō (the samurai code): Kagasua revealed himself to be as poetical and kind-hearted as he was courageous. In bushidō, samurai must cultivate both bu (the arts of war) and bun (the arts of peace)stopping to notice and appreciate the beauty of a plum blossom during the heat of war is a poetic way to honor both sides. While this samurai is depicted with a pine tree, rather than a plum tree, the juxtaposition could allude to this bushidō sensibility.

On Kodomo no Hi, families raise a carp-shaped flag, called a koinobori, for each boy or child in the family. Koinobori flags are chosen because when flown in the breeze, they look as if they are swimming upstream, alluding to a Chinese legend that holds that when a carp swims upstream it becomes a dragon. Families may also display samurai dolls and other figures in the home, such as a Kintaro (Golden Boy) doll, typically depicted riding on a giant carp and wearing a kabuto military helmet. Traditional foods on Kodomo no Hi include mochi rice cakes wrapped in Kashiwa (oak) leaves and chimaki (sweet rice paste wrapped in an iris or bamboo leaf). 

Donated by Mrs. S. L. Magoun, 1960.
AB 60-11 Samurai Doll (front)