Small Talk Archive: October 2015

The Smallest Samurai

miniature samurai

Japanese Samurais wore some of the most intricate and artful armor in world history. Starting in the year 792, landowners in Japan began assembling their own defensive forces which gave rise to Samurai culture. Teams of craftsmen were involved in the process of creating their dazzling armor, including metalsmiths, leather workers, painters, and more.

Recreated here in 1:12 scale , artist Isabella Gallaon-Aoki single-handedly undertook the efforts of that entire team of full-scale craftspeople. The diminutive warrior is bedecked in a costume made of jacquard silk, hand painted leather, and fur accents. Atop his kabuto, or helmet, is a carved golden dragon. While we can’t confirm or deny that the collection objects come to life at night like in Night at the Museum, we like to think this guy would guard his fellow miniatures with exceptional skill using his bow, known as a yumi.

The Girl Behind the Bonnet

sunbonnet sue images

This nine-piece Sunbonnet Sue Tea Set is one of the most colorfully illustrated children’s tea set in our collection. Who exactly is Sunbonnet Sue? With a face shrouded in mystery (ok, well, a sunbonnet anyway), Sunbonnet Sue was a popular illustration in the late 19th and early 20th century. She appeared on children’s school primers, china, and became a popular quilt block design.

The tea set here was made by Royal Bayreuth in Bavaria around 1905. The Sunbonnet Sue images were applied to the porcelain using a transfer technique and a secondary gold leaf pattern was added on top. Royal Bayreuth still continues to make porcelain today, and many of their antique pieces are highly collectible.

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