Although I'm interested about Japanese history and especially history regarding samurai life, I've never heard until 2 years ago about this female hero, Tomoe Gozen.
I received this 90mm figure from Alexandros Models range together with other figures to paint them as a commission job. The way this figure stands on it's narrow base and then spreading around with all kind of ribbons and waving hair, not to mention the long Naginata, held horizontally, made me to consider the work at this model for later on. But the client, wanted this first.
Well, it would not be the first time when, working under pressure I got, in the end at a good result.
Having the experience of many other samurai figures before, this time I set as a goal to myself to resolve some mistakes overlooked in the past. Thus, I took a great care to stay in scale with painted motives on the different garment pieces. Also, I payed attention to the lacing system, of the armor, which tended to be simplified in some areas.
For the garments under the armor, although I've been bombarded with several examples on the net, I tried to form a personal opinion about what should she wear. Considering she was for quite some time in a higher class position, I considered that she could afford a light silk costume of a feminine color decorated with motifs that appeal traditional and patriotic ideas but also some graceful representation of a loved symbol such is the crane.
For the archer's sleeve, usually made from a thicker material I chose an orange decorated with Sakura flowers and golden clan Mon representations. From what I know, the chrysanthemum motif was reserved for imperial use only.
From what I saw on the internet in most images of figurine models and reenactment representations, the lacing on the O-yoroi was monochromatic. It was inviting for me to represent a gradient color from dark blue to white. For the bonding strings I've used a more often utilized red color, to speculate the contrast with the duller lacing. Just at the Dai-Sho, as an exception, the bonding was represented in a pepper pattern, as if the whole set has been received as a gift.
For the base I used an wooden ashtray, same as I used to the previous Samurai figures. Because of it's light weight I had to fill the middle cavity with 2 fishing wights and some bonding material.
The groundwork was achieved with A+B epoxi paste on which different kind of preserved plants were mounted. Grass was made from hemp rope and static grass. The long blades are hairs from a big brush cut at different lengths and glued as if blown by wind.
In fact, keeping in mind the way the hair and the ribbon are waving in the wind I had to keep this sensation throughout the entire vignette.
The Sakura tree was done from a preserved root on which moss leaves and paper flowers were tediously glued.
The process is not secret and you can understand the steps by watching the pictures below. All it's needed is patience, time too short to start painting and too long to do nothing.
Regarding the whole appearance of the figure, I would have represented it with a bow instead of the Naginata, especially considering the bow string dispenser on her left hip. But according to many old stamps, apparently the lady was a very skilled Naginata fighter. Anyway I considered that other intricate models on the shaft of this weapon would be tiring with every other element richly decorated. Moreover, Naginata and Yari spears were not the same kind of personalized weapons as swords.
The face of the character was treated as if heavy make-up had been put on. It was a common practice at that time for the Japanese woman to use heavy make-up to enhance the white of their skin. Also, the eyelashes and eyebrows were marked with dark purple red over the white of the whole make-up. In such a situation, shadows on the face was very faint, just areas in full shadow being more darkened.
A few photos of the finished work.