Unveiling the complexity of japanese metallic threads

Sila Motella*

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the framework of an extensive survey campaign on a collection of Japanese samurai armors, metallic threads from different parts of the traditional equipment were studied by several analytical techniques. The collection of armors belongs to Museo delle Culture (Lugano, Switzerland) and it is composed of ten elements, which date back from the 15th to 20th century. Metallic threads under study come from six of ten elements of the collection and represent a complex and unique multimaterial, which shows specific characteristics in Japanese tradition (kinran). The multianalytical approach based on ATR-FTIR spectroscopy and SEM-EDX analysis, together with a careful observa- tion with optical and digital microscopy, permitted to obtain a complete characterization of materials, which have shown a great variability in metal foils and in organic adhesives (urushi, animal glue, starch). Gold and silver turned out to be not so largely used as scholars thought, while aluminum showed a great diffusion. Within the collection of analyzed armors, the obtained results allowed us for the first time to get a complete comprehension of materials and techniques used by Japanese craftsmen, and to observe differences in the quality of the materials and in manufacture technology over the centuries
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4017-4039
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • metallic threads


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