The area around present-day Osaka had a great concentration of gunsmiths.
The smaller-bore long guns tended to be fantastically decorated, butts, stocks and barrels covered in distinctive brasswork designs. Butt-shape, width of brass band around the barrel-to-butt join and muzzle shape contained hints. Rich Osaka merchants are said to have favoured these flashy guns both for hanging on the wall, and for shooting birds in the hills.
Larger calibre/caliber/bore soldiers' guns tended to lose that decoration and they became more functional and generic, hard to distinguish from Kunitomo. (Perhaps Kunitomo and Sakai/Settsu/Sess-Shu were the two top teppo/hinawa-Ju manufacturing areas in Japan and vied in their ability to produce anything for anyone, losing any hard and fast characteristics in the process.)
Can we find any constants, any pointers to say "Yes, definitely a Settsu gun, and/or definitely not a Kunitomo gun!" (?)
For all that is holy in this world, please post some blinged up Sakai guns here, so I don't have to post pictures of my nasty looking excuse of a Sess shu teppo... Anthony, you have a very nice one that you pillaged from a dutch mercant in Amsterdam
Well, in order to kick-start this thread I went down to my basement and hauled out the dusty old Sess-shu teppo. It´s not a pretty sight. Some parts are missing and some " " has cleaned the hell out of the barrel in order to highlight the decorations. Safe to say, the " " didn´t do a good job...
It´s a quite heavy gun, 136 cm long with a barrel of 106 cm. 3 monme. Has the classic "poppy" muzzle. Signed "Sesshu ju Zengoro saku".
The sad thing is that this gun must have looked rather good (if you are into over decorated matchlocks) back in the days. The whole barrel is covered with everything from a samurai riding a bore to gilded peonies, silver inlayed dragons and clouds. It also sports a Maeda-mon together with silver comet/jellyfish/sun with rays??? Perhaps ordered by a sea loving salesman from Kanazawa
The stock is made from a very nice piece of oak which has been repaired several times by it´s previous owners.
As with all Sakai-matchlooks the brass is in abundance. The artisan on this one was really into imperial flowers. Has the angry samurai with kabuto and the hammerwheel (which has a few pieces left of some kind of inlays). The back of the stock is covered with clouds.
What is the feature of a classic Sakai matchlock? Well, the poppy muzzle should be there together with the decorations. But as you saw on Eric´s Choshu there are other areas that used the brass decorations. The merchants wanted bling even if the lived in the countryside. Most Sakai matchlocks have a round (not really tear shaped) trigger. Being at a standard 130:ich cm they have four mekugi-ana. The trigger guard and locks are made from rounded copper. Have seen a few Kishu matchlocks with poppy muzzles and brass decorations but they have all square shaped triggerguards etc. The poppy muzzle can actually be seen on many different areas. I have it on my matchlock from Nagasaki.
I think the above matchlock represents the classic Sakai production even if it´s seen it´s better day.
But I´m hoping to see some better looking "bling-bling" under this thread.
Jan, Despite its treatment, it is nice gun. What is interesting is the Maeda kamon - made for export to Kaga so it was shipped across country and the sun with rays. Are we looking at Amida Buddha and the Pure Land Sect. The decoration on the butt is a water wheel. I've seen it before and wonder if it might be connected to the Doi family who sometimes used 6 buckets within a circular frame as well as the 8 here without a frame. Ian B
Ian, thanks for your kind words The Maeda connection makes it interesting and proofs that the smith from Sakai made matchlocks for consumers around the country. Also good to get your input on the silver inlay next to the mon. This gun has seen a lot of action in it's life, so I guess it will be filed under the section "Historical interesting" in my armory in the basement.
Agreed. A very good example to start with, although perhaps not quite bling enough!!!
Two other points that your gun illustrates nicely for us are the wide Doban brass ring surrounding the stock at the breech end of the barrel. This is a strong pointer for Sakai, although you do occasionally get them elsewhere.
Another is the crab's eye protector, 'Kani-no-me-kakushi' which is often formed with Sakai in the shape of a half chrysanthemum. It hides the little protruding catch ie 'the crab's eye' for locking down the tail of the serpentine under spring tension.
(Malcolm, off-topic, but I have a nice Marishiten-related object which I will post in your esoteric thread.)
He has a very Japanese nose, Jan, and the plant in the circle looks to me like an upright bamboo section(?) and bamboo leaves!
Hell, I was wrong on the nose and on the plant
So we have an asian looking guy (Marishiten) on a boar. The bamboo is a sign of strength (the plant that never breaks) so I guess that would be a fitting bling to an owner of a matchlock. Malcolm, get in here with your five cents...
That's my homage to the Tokugawa teppo-tai present at the famous battle of Nagashino. You see the palisade behind me... The big smile is to demonstrate the happiness amongst the Tokugawa shooters when they saw the Takeda falling left to right under the concentrated fire. It's nothing like I get that happy look everytime I aim my matchlock at someone... I promise...
I discovered something interesting whilst taking that picture. Wearing that black iron jingasa in the middle of the sunlight (we have +32 degrees in Sweden today) was pure agony. During the 2-3 minutes it took for my girlfriend to take some pictures, the jingasa became hot as hell. Actually burnt my fingers when I took it of. Imagine wearing it for many hours under the hot summer sun in Japan.
You got to have quick fingers in this game, Malcolm Piers, so you mean the teppo-tai would wear these Ajiro-gasas during battles fought during the summers instead of the iron ones? Sounds like the smart thing to do, but it's sure news to me.
Jan, by wearing armour we discover things good and bad, and we can adapt, by putting a cloth over our jingasa in this case for example, or if the battle is not actually raging, then wearing something else. At 36 degrees here today nearly 1,000 people were carted off to hospital with heat stroke, so I guess that most J battles were not even fought in mid-summer.
Yes, it's only after trying things in reality that many historical "facts" can be binned. Black iron jingasas in the blistering sun could be one of those.
Seems like both Japan and Sweden are suffering from days with +30 degrees. The Swedes will start dropping like flies if this continues for much longer. I actually spent a few hours in the coolest place in my house today...the japanese room which is located in the basement
This is a tricky one. A settsu smith, gun made in the style of Kazumi Ryu, but not entirely a Yonesawa gun due to the muzzle. Clearly different fittings on the barrel for mekugi than used with this stock, a chimera?
From Pierce; 摂州住, living in Settsu Province From the screw to the bisen, the zogan inlay, etc., your gun is looking more and more like a Seki-Ryu gun, the barrel perhaps ordered from Settsu. Seki-Ryu were also called Namban-Ryu. Also, when I said 関 Seki Ryu, I was influenced by the Higo-style Zogan. (The guns look very similar! ) Tanegashima Ryu, closest in style to your gun, are also called "Kasumi Ryu" (The School of the Mists) and are virtually Yonezawa guns. All of them however, have a straight-cut tubular muzzle.
I showed the pictures of your gun to our Tai Cho Today. Because of the Kouji muzzle surround he thinks the barrel and the stock led separate lives until they were put together like this. He is puzzled too by this gun
From Pierce; Several points tell us it is related to the Namban-Ryu school of gunnery. I'll post a picture in a while. The Mei is faint, but seeing that second Kanji my first bet is that it says Kago-ya, a well-known gunsmith in Sakai/Settsu/Osaka.They used several different Kanji to express the name of their forge, but this one looks like it's definitely going to be 藍屋.
A beautiful little pistol by an Osaka smith of great renown.
from Pierce; The signature is an amazing coincidence as I was just handling a beautful Sakai gun this afternoon and listening to how Inoue is one of the really top Osaka gunsmiths. That long gun was made by a later smith in the line, an Inoue Sekiuemon. I noticed then that the first smith in this line of smiths was Inoue Hachibei. Not two hours ago. And that is your pistol's smith, Anthony. No date is given for the one gun recorded there, just that it says 井上八兵衛 初代 摂津住 Shodai (1st gen) and Settsu-Ju. Looking at the list, very few Inoue guns seem to be dated. (I.no.ue means above the well, 井 の 上)
Well, when Anthony presents his Sakai collection, the earthquake alarm sounds in Japan....talk about mass I think we already have a perfect pictorial presentation of the Sakai production and it just confirms what Piers already stated. The "normal" decorated guns are easy to place in the Sakai cat. When the caliber goes up the decorations (thank God) is more or less gone and they become very hard to seperate from the Kunitomo style. I wonder the reason? Could it be that the decorated guns was made for the merchants? The large caliber matchlocks was the samurais gun with the sole purpose being function and war? Can't really see a posh ricedealer from Osaka walking around town showing off his 12 kg teppo...