by: Andrzej Snigorski [ ]
Japanese word rōnin means “wave-man” – man who, like wave pushed by the wind, is pushed through his life by fate. It was created in Nara and Heian periods and referred to serf who had deserted his master’s land.
In feudal period (1185-1868) rōnin was a Bushi - warrior with no lord or master. Samurai became a rōnin from death or fall of his master or by loss of his master’s privileges. Another reason for samurai to become a rōnin was his will to change a master, job, or even marry a woman from different social class. As it was relatively easy in early feudal era it became almost impossible after 1603. The only way a samurai could do this was by fleeing his master’s lands and becoming a rōnin. Otherwise he would be punished by death.
Being a rōnin was great dishonor and cause of humiliations but on the other hand was very often the only chance to change social position and status.
In late years of bakufu Tokugawa in Edo era some rōnins were deliberately leaving their masters as sing of resistance against the fall of samurai traditions and raise of western influence.
There are many stories about rōnins – some of them describe their bravery in protecting poor villagers from lawless and arrogant samurais or like the story of 47 rōnins the honor of 47 samurais revenging their master’s death. Other stories reprove rōnins for their lack of discipline and their idleness.
Rōnins carried two swords (katana and shorter wakizashi), just like other samurais but unlike them they usually did not shave their hair on top of their heads and above the foreheads.
Pegaso Models offers beautiful 1:9 (200mm) scale resin bust representing Japanese rōnin.
Bust is strikingly sculpted by Viktor Konnov. Rōnin is facing right. His hair is long, tied in a ponytail and, as he is rōnin, not shaved above the forhead. His facial hair are also not shaved – he wears both moustache and beard.
He is dressed in kosode - literally “short-long sleeves” worn with hakama trousers (or yukata – unlined casual summer kimono made of cotton; it’s hard to guess seeing only top of it).
rōnin helds on his arm the katana – moderately curved sword worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. Since we are dealing with bust and not a whole figure only the part of the sword is visible. What we can see is tsuka - the hilt made of wood or copper and wrapped in samegawa (ray or shark skin). Tsuka is wrapped with tsuka-ito – silk, cotton or leather wrapping. Butt cap kashira is visible at the end of tsuka. On the other end of tsuka there is a hilt collar called fuchi. It separates tsuka from tsuba – a hand guard. Above the tsuba we can see seppa – washer tightening the fittings. Below the tsuba we can see edge of habaki – metal collar used to keep the sword from falling out of saya – scabbard for the blade made of lacquered wood. Saya is wrapped with sageo – cord used to tie saya to obi (belt) when worn.
Kit comes in black cardboard box 6,5x7x9,5cm with Pegaso Models logo on top of it. On side of box is printed with information about the company and product usage safety. Remaining sides are wrapped in paper with pictures of bust painted by Pietro Balloni. This wrapping protects the box from opening.
Inside the box, protected by entangled plastic foil strips lays the plastic zip-bag with parts of the bust and label from YS Castings (the company known to us from their own line of busts and figures – YS Masterpieces).
Kit contains 8 pieces:
- head with neck
- three wisps of hair to attach on the forehead and next to ears
- resin cylinder that can be used to attach the bust to the base.
All parts are made of resin except for three wisps made of white metal.
Assembly and painting
There is no assembly instruction attached but picture of finished bust is more than enough. Headpiece matches perfectly in kosode’s collar; ponytail have a peg fitting the hole in the back of the head. There are also three slots (one on the forehead and two next to the ears) for hair wisps attachment. Katana matches the fold of kosode perfectly and is additionally positioned by small peg.
The coverart can be used as painting reference but pictures are rather small and details are not clearly visible. Fortunately the same pictures are available on Pegaso Models’ site. Pietro Balloni did great job painting the bust perfectly bringing up the facial features and creating beautiful pattern on the kosode.
Detailing and quality
Bust is casted in light grey resin. Casting is almost flawless – delicate and easy to clean seam line is visible on the back of the neck of samurai. Very delicate flash is present on some areas but it does not damage any detail and cleaning will be easy and will not create a threat to precisely sculpted parts.
Flesh must be cleaned on the torso as well since it would damage the fit if not removed.
Face is absolutely beautiful. Facial features show brave, tough and experienced warrior. Wrinkles are perfectly sculpted on his forehead and in the corners of his eyes.
Ears, although they are going to be partially covered with the hair are also nicely detailed.
Hair, eyebrows, moustache and beard are sculpted with great care and should be a pleasure to paint.
Neck shows anatomical accuracy.
Folds of the kosode are smooth and very natural. Torso is simple but leaves great field for pattern painting.
Katana is another masterpiece. Tsuka-ito wraps and knots of sageo are sculpted with great care and all these details allow nice and precise painting. Tsuba hand guard is sculpted as flat disc, but it can be changed to a delicate masterpiece by painting.
No bubbles have been spotted.
Two areas on torso and katana need trimming since there are pouring areas marks – it’s going to be easy since the marks are on the edges.
All details are crisp and clean, fitting is very good (after removing the flesh).
Assessing subjectively I would say that this is one of the most beautiful busts in the market. Objective assessment does not differ significantly from the subjective evaluation. Although the bust is simple, without armor, fancy clothing or equipment, the facial features strike with charisma and expression. It definitely contains the kind of simplicity so valued in samurai era Japan.
Both sculptor and caster did great job allowing Pegaso to deliver truly remarkable product.
“Samuraje. Ilustrowana historia.” (“Samurai. An Ilustrated History”)
“Samuraje. Uzbrojenie. Ekwipunek. Ubiór” (“Samurai. Arms, armor, costume.”)
“Samuraje” (org. “Samurai – wojennoje sosłowije Japonii”)
Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy
Pictures of painted bust are from vendor’s web site