"Between East and West"
hosted by the Arms Room
in the Palazzo Vecchio

by Sandro Pintus

The art of forging metal through various techniques that confer resistance, potency and beauty is represented by the 50 European pieces, the 25 Islamic pieces and the 25 Japanese pieces. A review that guides us through five centuries showing us the heavy predominantly German and Italian armour used in the tournaments and battles fought by knights almost invulnerable but hindered in their movements.

Three suits of armour on show at the exhibition

Very different however is the armour of the Islamic world that protected the warrior in his vulnerable spots while the rest of his body was covered in metal vests that allowed him speed and relative freedom of movement. The main contrast is evident in the Japanese armour consisting of lacquer and silk which created terrifying and alien figures, transforming the samurai into an extraterrestrial being.

Crossbow German ca 1570

Dahl - Small wheel - North India first half of the 18th century

Also on display, the Japanese kattane that have no equal in the world, the Islamic scimitars, among which there is also that of the sultan Tipo of Mysore with the hilt in the form of a tiger, and the large German and Spanish swords. Also to be found there are crossbows and firearms like pistols inlaid with mother-of-pearl and muskets from Anatolia with silver engravings, ancestors of modern fire arms. A journey through very different cultures that reveals to us parallel universes, philosophies and ways of life, of perceiving art and war but also the vanity and wealth of those who employed them.

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