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Samurai with Topknot and Sword in Western Dress, Bakumatsu Period
Ambrotype, 1/4 plate
5 x 3.5 in
Charles Schwartz Ltd
A marvelous and unique convergence of East and West is evidenced in this extremely rare image of a Samurai made in the late Bakumatsu Period the time at which Japan began to abandon its old, feudal society in favor of a more modern one. Samurais fighting for the soon-to-be-installed Meiji government which would eventually outlaw their caste were called "reformed Samurai." Nakai, the photographer, who had studios in Kyoto and others sites, took this image in a "shajo" or portable studio. Note the sitter's discordant Western-style formal dress, as well as the fact that he carries a Samurai sword, a fan, and wears his hair in the traditional "chomage" topknot hairstyle.