Art: Move Over, Darth Vader

In Manhattan, the elegance of Japan's "conspicuous helmets"

Akoan for Action Man: What kind of expensive military hardware took its form, according to the bearer's whim, from a cow's head, a rice bowl, a pair of rabbit ears, a water plantain, a whirlpool, a pumpkin, a canyon, or the cone-shaped head of the God of Longevity? The answer is kaware kabuto, which translates from the Japanese as "conspicuous helmets." These were the singular headgear worn into battle, or during the formal maneuvers preceding it, by Japanese clan leaders, before the accurate, quick-firing arms of the 19th century rendered the helmets, their wearers and the samurai ethic they stood for...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!