Japanese

211 items found
basket0
A Stunning Japanese 0-Tanto Signed Echizen Kuni ju nin Kanenori Circa 1615

A Stunning Japanese 0-Tanto Signed Echizen Kuni ju nin Kanenori Circa 1615

A very large Japanese samurai dagger around 400 years old possibly Keicho era. Beautifully mounted in its all original Edo period fittings of very fine quality. The takebori tsuba is decorated with a most finely executed dragon with pure gold highlights, and bears a large cursive signature by its maker. The fushigashira are iron inlaid with pure silver wire decoration of tendrils and flowers. The menuki are absolutely delightful of pure gold decorated twin pairs of cockerals in differing poses. The wide and long blade is most imposing, with a very unusual carved hi groove configuration. The original Edo urushi ishime lacquer saya has a fine kozuka utility knife fitted in its pocket that has a gold spiny lobster in takebori on very finely defined nanako ground see below for the detail on the nanako work, the rear of the kozuka handle is raindrop engraved with gold overlay

This beautiful large samurai dagger was made in and around the time of the famous clan conflict at Osaka Castle. In 1614, the Toyotomi clan rebuilt Osaka Castle. At the same time, the head of the clan sponsored the rebuilding of Hoko-ji in Kyoto. These temple renovations included the casting of a great bronze bell, with inscriptions that read "May the state be peaceful and prosperous" (kokka anko), and "May noble lord and servants be rich and cheerful" (kunshin horaku). The shogunate interpreted "kokka anko" as shattering Ieyasu's the Shogun name to curse him, and also interpreted "kunshin horaku" to mean "Toyotomi's force will rise again," which meant treachery against the new Tokugawa shogunate. Tensions began to grow between the Tokugawa and the Toyotomi clans, and only increased when Toyotomi began to gather a force of ronin mercenary samurai who had lost their lord and enemies of the shogunate in Osaka. Ieyasu, despite having passed the title of Shogun to his son in 1605, nevertheless maintained significant influence.

Despite Katagiri Katsumoto's attempts to mediate the situation, Ieyasu found the ideal pretext to take a belligerent attitude against Yodo-dono and Hideyori. The situation worsened for September of that year, when the news reached Edo that in Osaka they were grouping a large quantity of ronin-you are missing without a lord-at the invitation of Hideyori.

Katsumoto proposed to Yodo-dono be sent to Edo as a hostage with the desire to avoid hostilities, to which she flatly refused. Suspect of trying to betray the Toyotomi clan, Yodo-dono finally banished Katsumoto and several other servants accused of treason from Osaka castle, and go to the service of the Tokugawa clan, consequently any possibility of reaching an agreement with the shogunate was dissolved.

This last movement of Yodo-dono, who acted as the guardian of Hideyori, led to the beginning of the siege of Osaka. The siege of Osaka ( Osaka no Eki, or, more commonly, Osaka no Jin) was a series of battles undertaken by the Tokugawa shogunate against the Toyotomi clan, towards the end of the Keicho era, and ending in that clan's destruction. Divided into two stages (winter campaign and summer campaign), and lasting from 1614 to 1615, the siege put an end to the last major armed opposition to the shogunate's establishment. The end of the conflict is sometimes called the Genna Armistice ( Genna Enbu), because the era name was changed from Keicho to Genna immediately following the siege.

Nanako Ji: "fish roe ground" A surface decoration produced by forming very small raised bosses by a sharply struck punch or burin called 'nanako tagane'. Shakudo is the metal most often used, but copper and gold are quite often employed. The harder metals, shibuichi, silver and iron are rarely decorated in this way. The size of the dots vary from 0.04" to 0.008" (25 to 125 and inch) and the regularity of the work is marvelous as the dots must be spaced entirely by touch. The dots are usually arranged in straight lines or in lines parallel to the edge of the piece being decorated, but sometimes in more elaborate patterns. Used on guards since the Momoyama period although the technique existed since much earlier periods. Usually done by specialist 'nanako-shi', but sometimes done by the maker of the guard himself. The articles of sword ornamentation made by the Goto artists were practically all on shakudo grounds with nanako finish; after the emergence of the machibori artisans in the mid-Edo period and the popularity of the newly inspired kozuka, shakudo grounds with nanako finish "became the rage". Nanako finish is probably an evolution and refinement of a very old style finish (which it vaguely resembles); "millet finish", 'awa ishime', which is found on some old armorer tsuba. However, awa ishime consisted of small, round dimples punched into the surface of the ground; on the other hand, nanako is formed by striking the ground with a cup-shaped punch to raise, and project upward from the surface, small semi-hemispheric nipples. Since we find nanako finish on old yamagane grounds, it was in use as early as the Kamakura period. It is note-worthy that a nanako finish on a shakudo ground has been used since the time of the first Goto 1440 - 151 in the mitokoromono, "set of three", for use on formal or ceremonial occasions. Later, shakudo nanako became the regular finish for use by the metal artisans. (deleted repeated sentences) In applying nanako, meticulous and scrupulous care must be used in positioning and striking the "cupping tool" in order to achieve fine, regular, carefully and closely spaced, identical results, row after row. Careless, imprecise and even coarse workmanship can be detected in the nanako of some older works and on "ready made" products, but work of later years, executed with infinite and scrupulous care, are beautiful beyond belief. However, even the finest of execution of nanako finish applied to brass (shinchu) or shibuichi fails to carry the distinct air of refinement and elegance of similar work on shakudo. The very elegance of nanako workmanship reflects not only the extraordinary skills of the Japanese in the execution of minute, detailed work, but also their tremendous patience and artistic inspiration. It is said that blindness of nanako workers at thirty years of age was usual because of the microscopic and meticulous work so carefully and patiently executed. On many old tsuba, pre-dating the period of the Goto, one encounters nanako laid in horizontal or vertical rows; on subsequent work nanako was applied along curved lines conforming to the shape of the tsuba.

22.5 inches long overall, 14 inches long blade tsuba to tip.  read more

Code: 22736

4250.00 GBP

A Very Attractive, Edo Era 17th to 18th Century Samurai's Tetsu Abumi Stirrup, Inlaid With Silver in a Geometric Pattern

A Very Attractive, Edo Era 17th to 18th Century Samurai's Tetsu Abumi Stirrup, Inlaid With Silver in a Geometric Pattern

This Japanese stirrup, is made in the traditional dove's breast (hato mune) shape with an open platform lined slightly curved forward so that the foot fits in without sliding backwards. In the front extremity the stirrup has a rectangular buckle with several horizontal slots which also serve as a handle.
The whole surface is in ancient russetted iron in the distinctive Higo school style, with a large onlaid decorative mount of a bird and various flora.

It is to be noted that these stirrups, due to their weight, were also used as weapons against the infantry adversaries. Abumi, Japanese stirrups, were used in Japan as early as the 5th century, and were a necessary component along with the Japanese saddle (kura) for the use of horses in warfare. Abumi became the type of stirrup used by the samurai class of feudal Japan Early abumi were flat-bottomed rings of metal-covered wood, similar to European stirrups. The earliest known examples were excavated from tombs. Cup-shaped stirrups (tsubo abumi) that enclosed the front half of the rider's foot eventually replaced the earlier design.

During the Nara period, the base of the stirrup which supported the rider's sole was elongated past the toe cup. This half-tongued style of stirrup (hanshita abumi) remained in use until the late Heian period (794 to 1185) when a new stirrup was developed. The fukuro abumi or musashi abumi had a base that extended the full length of the rider's foot and the right and left sides of the toe cup were removed. The open sides were designed to prevent the rider from catching a foot in the stirrup and being dragged.

The military version of this open-sided stirrup, called the shitanaga abumi, was in use by the middle Heian period. It was thinner, had a deeper toe pocket and an even longer and flatter foot shelf. It is not known why the Japanese developed this unique style of stirrup, but this stirrup stayed in use until European style-stirrups were introduced in the late 19th century. The abumi has a distinctive swan-like shape, curved up and backward at the front so as to bring the loop for the leather strap over the instep and achieve a correct balance. Most of the surviving specimens from this period are made entirely of iron, inlaid with designs of silver or other materials, and covered with lacquer. In some cases, there is an iron rod from the loop to the footplate near the heel to prevent the foot from slipping out. The footplates are occasionally perforated to let out water when crossing rivers, and these types are called suiba abumi. There are also abumi with holes in the front forming sockets for a lance or banner. Seieibushi (Elite Samurai)
Traditionally the highest rank among the samurai, these are highly skilled fully-fledged samurai. Most samurai at the level of Seieibushi take on apprentices or Aonisaibushi-samurai as their disciples.

Kodenbushi (Legendary Samurai)
A highly coveted rank, and often seen as the highest attainable position, with the sole exception of the rank of Shogun. These are samurai of tremendous capability, and are regarded as being of Shogun-level. Kodenbushi are hired to accomplish some of the most dangerous international missions. Samurai of Kodenbushi rank are extremely rare, and there are no more than four in any given country.

Daimyo (Lords)
This title translates to 'Big Name' and is given to the heads of the clan.

Shogun (Military Dictator)
The apex of the samurai, the Shogun is the most prestigious rank possible for a samurai. Shoguns are the leaders of their given district, or country, and are regarded as the most powerful samurai.  read more

Code: 25320

1395.00 GBP

An Exceptionally Handsome 500 Year Old Samurai Katana, Signed Bizen Osafune ju Kanemitsu, A  Museum Quality Piece of Early Samurai History

An Exceptionally Handsome 500 Year Old Samurai Katana, Signed Bizen Osafune ju Kanemitsu, A Museum Quality Piece of Early Samurai History

In a classic and highly sophisticated all black ensemble of koshirae, and a sword that has a breathtakingly impressive curvature. It has all its original Edo mounts, of patinated copper, decorated with takebori relief dragons, an early iron Koto o-sukashi tsuba, a stunning, original, Edo period uniformly narrow ribbed black urushi lacquer saya, in super bright and glossy original condition. Deeply curved blade showing an outstanding active and vibrant hamon in great polish. The tsukaito is over-lacquered silk, in black, over-wrapped on pure gold and shakudo menuki which in turn are on traditional samegawa [giant rayskin].

The activity in the hamon is, simply, spectacularly beautiful, and shows the wide Hi [horimono groove] on one side and a double Bo Hi on the other side of the blade face.

The Incredible Story of Japanese Lacquer on Samurai Swords Scabbards, called Saya

Japanese lacquer, or urushi, is a transformative and highly prized material that has been refined for over 7000 years.

Cherished for its infinite versatility, urushi is a distinctive art form that has spread across all facets of Japanese culture from the tea ceremony to the saya [scabbards] of samurai swords

Japanese artists created their own style and perfected the art of decorated lacquerware during the 8th century. Japanese lacquer skills reached its peak as early as the twelfth century, at the end of the Heian period (794-1185). This skill was passed on from father to son and from master to apprentice.

Some provinces of Japan were famous for their contribution to this art: the province of Edo (later Tokyo), for example, produced the most beautiful lacquered pieces from the 17th to the 18th centuries. Lords and shoguns privately employed lacquerers to produce ceremonial and decorative objects for their homes and palaces.

The varnish used in Japanese lacquer is made from the sap of the urushi tree, also known as the lacquer tree or the Japanese varnish tree (Rhus vernacifera), which mainly grows in Japan and China, as well as Southeast Asia. Japanese lacquer, 漆 urushi, is made from the sap of the lacquer tree. The tree must be tapped carefully, as in its raw form the liquid is poisonous to the touch, and even breathing in the fumes can be dangerous. But people in Japan have been working with this material for many millennia, so there has been time to refine the technique!

Flowing from incisions made in the bark, the sap, or raw lacquer is a viscous greyish-white juice. The harvesting of the resin can only be done in very small quantities.
Three to five years after being harvested, the resin is treated to make an extremely resistant, honey-textured lacquer. After filtering, homogenization and dehydration, the sap becomes transparent and can be tinted in black, red, yellow, green or brown.

Once applied on an object, lacquer is dried under very precise conditions: a temperature between 25 and 30°C and a humidity level between 75 and 80%. Its harvesting and highly technical processing make urushi an expensive raw material applied in exceptionally fine successive layers, on objects such as bowls or boxes.After heating and filtering, urushi can be applied directly to a solid, usually wooden, base. Pure urushi dries into a transparent film, while the more familiar black and red colours are created by adding minerals to the material. Each layer is left to dry and polished before the next layer is added. This process can be very time-consuming and labor-intensive, which contributes to the desirability, and high costs, of traditionally made lacquer goods. The skills and techniques of Japanese lacquer have been passed down through the generations for many centuries. For four hundred years, the master artisans of Zohiko’s Kyoto workshop have provided refined lacquer articles for the imperial household . Overall 37.75 inches long, blade tsuba to tip 27 inches  read more

Code: 24324

9750.00 GBP

A Beautiful Suit of Edo Samurai Armour in Gold and Black Lacquer With Blue and Black Lacing, Multi Plate Helmet with Dragon Fly Fukegaeshi, With Ressai {Fierce Face} Menpo

A Beautiful Suit of Edo Samurai Armour in Gold and Black Lacquer With Blue and Black Lacing, Multi Plate Helmet with Dragon Fly Fukegaeshi, With Ressai {Fierce Face} Menpo

This is a wonderful piece of Japanese Samurai 'art' made for warfare, in a mixture of golds and black lacquer with blue and black with multi plate kabuto {helmet} with a dragonfly on the lacquer oneach front wing, and ressai {fierce face} mento face armour, which features a kuchi hige (mustache), shiwa (facial wrinkles). Extremely collectable art that is most desirable in its own right, often stunningly used for interior decoration as an individual work of samurai art in its own right. A very good urushi lacqured embossed iron mask of 'Me no Shita Men' (half face) type.

Gold and black lacquer do with blue lacing, kazuri with blue lacing, gold and blue laced shirokoro, kusazuri in gold lacquer and purple lacing, armoured sleeve kote.

This armour has remained untouched since it arrival in England likely over a hundred years ago, and probably for longer than that when it was in Japan, and only the two red cords have been replaced on the helmet and waist. We are leaving it exactly as is

Samurai used dragonfly motifs on their armour, clothing and weapons in hope of success in battle.

The urushi lacquer saya is in ishime stone finish pattern.

Japan was once known as the “Land of the Dragonfly”, as the Emperor Jimmu is said to have once climbed a mountain in Nara, and looking out over the land, claimed that his country was shaped like two Akitsu, the ancient name for the winged insects, mating.

Dragonflies appeared in great numbers in 1274 and again in 1281, when Kublai Khan sent his Mongol forces to conquer Japan. Both times the samurai repelled the attackers, with the aid of huge typhoons, later titled Kamikaze (the Divine Winds), that welled up, destroying the Mongol ships, saving Japan from invasion. For that reason, dragonflies were seen as bringers of divine victory.

Dragonflies never retreat, they will stop, but will always advance, which was seen as an ideal of the samurai. Further, although the modern Japanese word for dragonfly is Tombo, the old (Pre Meiji era) word for dragonfly was Katchimushi. “Katchi” means “To win”, hence dragonflies were seen as auspicious by the samurai.

Insects in general have been celebrated in Japanese culture for centuries. The Lady Who Loved Insects is a classic story of a caterpillar-collecting lady of the 12th century court; the Tamamushi, or Jewel Beetle Shrine, is a seventh century miniature temple, once shingled with 9,000 iridescent beetle forewings. In old Japanese literature, poems upon insects are to be found by thousands, Daisaburo Okumoto is director of the Fabre Insect Museum. An avid insect collector and a scholar of French literature, he has translated many of Fabre's works. He ascribes the popularity of insects in Japan to national character. It seems like Japanese eyes are like macro lenses and Western eyes are wide-angle, he says. A garden in Versailles, it's very wide and symmetrical. But Japanese gardens are continuous from the room and also very small. We feel calm when we look at small things. The medieval Japanese monk Yoshida Kenko put it this way: “If man were never to fade away like the dews of Adashino, never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, how things would lose their power to move us!

In the 16th century, Japan began trading with Europe, during what would become known as the Nanban trade. This was the first time matchlock muskets were imported, and as they became mass-produced domestically, samurai needed lighter and more protective armour. As a result, a new style of armour called tosei-gusoku (gusoku), which means modern armour, appeared. After the Battle of Sekigahara and the victory of the Tokugawa, a united Japan was created and entered the so-called 'peaceful Edo period', however, then from henceforth, the shoguns promoted rivallry between his daimyo fuedal clan lords, in order for their military ambitions, attention and suspicions to be upon each other, rather than the shogun. So there were no wars, as such, for over 250 years, but, hundreds of internecine battles, thus samurai continued to combat as usual, using both plate and lamellar armour. This practice, of a version of divide and conquer, of internal factions, rather than external forces, was adopted by many despots ever since, including Sadam Hussein of Iraq, extremely efficiently, and for over 20 years in his case.

Ōyamazumi Shrine is known as a treasure house of Japanese armour. It houses 40% of Japanese armour that has been designated as a National treasure and an Important Cultural Property. Kasuga Grand Shrine is also known as a treasure house of valuable armour

Every single item from The Lanes Armoury is accompanied by our unique Certificate of Authenticity. Part of our continued dedication to maintain the standards forged by us over the past 100 years of our family’s trading, as Britain’s oldest established, and favourite, armoury and gallery  read more

Code: 25318

12950.00 GBP

A Beautiful Samurai Wakizashi Signed Kunimune, Han Dachi Mounted, All Original Edo Koshirae and Deep Brown Urushi Lacquer Saya With Nishiji Gold With Very Rare Gold Foiled Throat

A Beautiful Samurai Wakizashi Signed Kunimune, Han Dachi Mounted, All Original Edo Koshirae and Deep Brown Urushi Lacquer Saya With Nishiji Gold With Very Rare Gold Foiled Throat

A Fine blade, in beautiful old polish, hon-zukuri form with a delightful notare hamon, plain copper habaki, signed tang, Hojoji Kunimune, Fabulous gold striped and shakudo takebori relief tiger menuki. Osukashi tsuba of triple leaves with scalloped edge

The samurai were roughly the equivalent of feudal knights. Employed by the shogun or daimyo, they were members of hereditary warrior class that followed a strict "code" that defined their clothes, armour and behaviour on the battlefield. But unlike most medieval knights, samurai warriors could read and they were well versed in Japanese art, literature and poetry.
Samurai endured for almost 700 years, from 1185 to 1867. Samurai families were considered the elite. They made up only about six percent of the population and included daimyo and the loyal soldiers who fought under them. Samurai means one who serves."
The Sengoku period Sengoku Jidai, "Warring States period") is a period in Japanese history of near-constant civil war, social upheaval, and intrigue from 1467 to 1615.

The Sengoku period was initiated by the Onin War in 1467 which collapsed the feudal system of Japan under the Ashikaga Shogunate. Various samurai warlords and clans fought for control over Japan in the power vacuum, while the Ikkō-ikki emerged to fight against samurai rule. The arrival of Europeans in 1543 introduced the arquebus into Japanese warfare, and Japan ended its status as a tributary state of China in 1549. Oda Nobunaga dissolved the Ashikaga Shogunate in 1573 and launched a war of political unification by force, including the Ishiyama Hongan-ji War, until his death in the Honnō-ji Incident in 1582. Nobunaga's successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi completed his campaign to unify Japan and consolidated his rule with numerous influential reforms. Hideyoshi launched the Japanese invasions of Korea in 1592, but their eventual failure damaged his prestige before his death in 1598. Tokugawa Ieyasu displaced Hideyoshi's young son and successor Toyotomi Hideyori at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 and re-established the feudal system under the Tokugawa Shogunate. The Sengoku period ended when Toyotomi loyalists were defeated at the siege of Osaka in 1615.

The Sengoku period was named by Japanese historians after the similar but otherwise unrelated Warring States period of China.

Cherished for its infinite versatility, urushi lacquer is a distinctive art form that has spread across all facets of Japanese culture from the tea ceremony to the saya scabbards of samurai swords

Japanese artists created their own style and perfected the art of decorated lacquerware during the 8th century. Japanese lacquer skills reached its peak as early as the twelfth century, at the end of the Heian period (794-1185). This skill was passed on from father to son and from master to apprentice.

The varnish used in Japanese lacquer is made from the sap of the urushi tree, also known as the lacquer tree or the Japanese varnish tree (Rhus vernacifera), which mainly grows in Japan and China, as well as Southeast Asia. Japanese lacquer, 漆 urushi, is made from the sap of the lacquer tree. The tree must be tapped carefully, as in its raw form the liquid is poisonous to the touch, and even breathing in the fumes can be dangerous. But people in Japan have been working with this material for many millennia, so there has been time to refine the technique!  read more

Code: 25303

4950.00 GBP

An Exceptionally Beautiful & Fine, Koto Period, Armour and Helmet Piercing Samurai Yoroi-Doshi Tanto, With All Original Edo Koshirae Fittings Shakudo, Iron Tettsu, Silver, and Gold

An Exceptionally Beautiful & Fine, Koto Period, Armour and Helmet Piercing Samurai Yoroi-Doshi Tanto, With All Original Edo Koshirae Fittings Shakudo, Iron Tettsu, Silver, and Gold

Circa 1580. With two hi horimono on one side and a ken blade horimono suken (素剣) on the opposite side {omote} the side of the sword away from the body as it is worn. The opposite side is called the ura or back.

Beautiful notare hamon, strong and wide kasane thickness of the blade for the required strength to penetrate iron armour and helmet skull. Superb fuchi kashira higo school in low relief takebori of gold inlay on iron. Urushi black lacquer saya, with carved buffalo horn koiguchi, the lacquer is lightly carved with a decor of clouds throughout, with speckles of abilone shell to simulate stars behind the clouds. shakudo and silvered menuki of bean pods. Iron kogatana with iron kozuka inlaid with gold stars and seashells with stylized clouds, iron tettsu tsuba with inlay of gold tendrils and silver aoi leaf, and a pair of crenellated form seppa.Very fine shakudo habaki

The yoroi-doshi "armour piercer" or "mail piercer" were one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihonto) that were worn by the samurai class as a weapon in feudal Japan. The yoroi-doshi is an extra thick tanto, dagger , which appeared in the Sengoku period (late Muromachi). The yoroi-doshi was made for piercing armour and for stabbing while grappling in close quarters. The weapon ranged in size from 20 cm to 24 cm, but some examples could be under 15 cm, with a "tapering mihaba, iori-mune, thick kasane at the bottom, and thin kasane at the top and occasionally moroha-zukuri construction". The motogasane (blade thickness) at the hamachi (the notch at the beginning of the cutting edge) can be a third to up to a half-inch thick, which is characteristic of the yoroi-doshi. The extra thickness at the spine of the blade distinguishes the yoroi-doshi from a standard tanto blade.

Yoroi-doshi were worn inside the belt on the back or on the right side with the hilt toward the front and the edge upward. Due to being worn on the right, the blade would have been drawn using the left hand, giving rise to the alternate name of metezashi or "horse-hand (i.e. rein-hand, i.e. left-hand) blade".

23 cm blade tsuba to tip  read more

Code: 25302

4985.00 GBP

A Stunning Edo Period Tettsu {iron Plate} Krishitan {Christian.} Tsuba, Of The Holy Cross, Heavenly Eight Pointed Stars in Gold, & The River Of Life in Silver. In Superb Condition & From A Very Fine Collection of Tsuba.

A Stunning Edo Period Tettsu {iron Plate} Krishitan {Christian.} Tsuba, Of The Holy Cross, Heavenly Eight Pointed Stars in Gold, & The River Of Life in Silver. In Superb Condition & From A Very Fine Collection of Tsuba.

A stunning Krishitam sukashi piercing of the cross with a silver river and gold eight pointed star inlays. With a kozuka hitsu-ana, and kogai hitsu ana
The Bible starts with an account of a river watering the Garden of Eden. It flowed from the garden separating out into four headwaters. The rivers are named, flowing into different areas of the world,

Eight pointed stars symbolise the number of regeneration and of Baptism. The Stars and The River as Christian Symbols, are images or symbolic representation with sacred significance. The meanings, origins and ancient traditions surrounding Christian symbols date back to early times when the majority of ordinary people were not able to read or write and printing was unknown. Many were 'borrowed' or drawn from early pre-Christian traditions.
The Hidden Christians quieted their public expressions and practices of faith in the hope of survival from the great purge. They also suffered unspeakably if captured and failed to renounce their Christian beliefs.

In Silence, Endo depicts the trauma of Rodrigues’ journey into Japan through his early encounter with an abandoned and destroyed Christian village. Rodrigues expresses his distress over the suffering of Japanese Christians and he reports the “deadly silence.”

‘I will not say it was a scene of empty desolation. Rather was it as though a battle had recently devastated the whole district. Strewn all over the roads were broken plates and cups, while the doors were broken down so that all the houses lay open . . . The only thing that kept repeating itself quietly in my mind was: Why this? Why? I walked the village from corner to corner in the deadly silence.

...Somewhere or other there must be Christians secretly living their life of faith as these people had been doing . . . I would look for them and find out what had happened here; and after that I would determine what ought to be done.”

- Silence, Shusaku Endo

Two images in the gallery are drawings of bronze fumi-e in use during the 1660s in Japan, during the time of the persecution. Each of these drawings mirrors actual brass fumi-e portraying Stations of the Cross, which are held in the collections of the Tokyo National Museum

The current FX series 'Shogun' by Robert Clavell is based on the true story of William Adams and the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyesu, and apart from being one of the very best film series yet made, it shows superbly and relatively accurately the machinations of the Catholic Jesuits to manipulate the Japanese Regents and their Christian convert samurai Lords.

Oda Nobunaga (1534–82) had taken his first step toward uniting Japan as the first missionaries landed, and as his power increased he encouraged the growing Kirishitan movement as a means of subverting the great political strength of Buddhism. Oppressed peasants welcomed the gospel of salvation, but merchants and trade-conscious daimyos saw Christianity as an important link with valuable European trade. Oda’s successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–98), was much cooler toward the alien religion. The Japanese were becoming aware of competition between the Jesuits and the Franciscans and between Spanish and Portuguese trading interests. Toyotomi questioned the reliability of subjects with some allegiance to the foreign power at the Vatican. In 1587 he ordered all foreign missionaries to leave Japan but did not enforce the edict harshly until a decade later, when nine missionaries and 17 native Kirishitan were martyred.

After Toyotomi’s death and the brief regency of his adopted child, the pressures relaxed. However, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the great Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1867), gradually came to see the foreign missionaries as a threat to political stability. By 1614, through his son and successor, Tokugawa Hidetada, he banned Kirishitan and ordered the missionaries expelled. Severe persecution continued for a generation under his son and grandson. Kirishitan were required to renounce their faith on pain of exile or torture. Every family was required to belong to a Buddhist temple, and periodic reports on them were expected from the temple priests.

By 1650 all known Kirishitan had been exiled or executed. Undetected survivors were driven underground into a secret movement that came to be known as Kakure Kirishitan (“Hidden Christians”), existing mainly in western Kyushu island around Nagasaki and Shimabara. To avoid detection they were obliged to practice deceptions such as using images of the Virgin Mary disguised as the popular and merciful Bōsatsu (bodhisattva) Kannon, whose gender is ambiguous and whom carvers often render as female.

The populace at large remained unaware that the Kakure Kirishitan managed to survive for two centuries, and when the prohibition against Roman Catholics began to ease again in the mid-19th century, arriving European priests were told there were no Japanese Christians left. A Roman Catholic church set up in Nagasaki in 1865 was dedicated to the 26 martyrs of 1597, and within the year 20,000 Kakure Kirishitan dropped their disguise and openly professed their Christian faith. They faced some repression during the waning years of the Tokugawa shogunate, but early in the reforms of the emperor Meiji (reigned 1867–1912) the Kirishitan won the right to declare their faith and worship publicly.

Some wear to the gold and silver inlays on the reverse side.  read more

Code: 25311

1495.00 GBP

An Edo Tettsu Krishitan {Christian} Tsuba Of Twin Symbols of The Rope And The Cross. In Superb Condition & Traditionally Boxed For Display. From A Very Fine Collection Of Beautiful Antique Tsuba

An Edo Tettsu Krishitan {Christian} Tsuba Of Twin Symbols of The Rope And The Cross. In Superb Condition & Traditionally Boxed For Display. From A Very Fine Collection Of Beautiful Antique Tsuba

This beautiful iron tsuba, contains the hidden Edo period Christian symbols of the rope and the cross, and it serves as both a reminder to the violence and to the subsequent hiddenness that came out of the Japanese convert Christians’ suffering. The rope was symbol of obedience - the symbol of an untied rope.
It may be that the design of the tsuba confronted the believer to the ambiguity born of a prolonged time of painful secrecy. Surrounded by the threat of violence, even a weapon could bear a hidden symbol of Christianity—the cross.

The Hidden Christians quieted their public expressions and practices of faith in the hope of survival from the great purge. They also suffered unspeakably if captured and failed to renounce their Christian beliefs.

In Silence, Endo depicts the trauma of Rodrigues’ journey into Japan through his early encounter with an abandoned and destroyed Christian village. Rodrigues expresses his distress over the suffering of Japanese Christians and he reports the “deadly silence.”

‘I will not say it was a scene of empty desolation. Rather was it as though a battle had recently devastated the whole district. Strewn all over the roads were broken plates and cups, while the doors were broken down so that all the houses lay open . . . The only thing that kept repeating itself quietly in my mind was: Why this? Why? I walked the village from corner to corner in the deadly silence.

...Somewhere or other there must be Christians secretly living their life of faith as these people had been doing . . . I would look for them and find out what had happened here; and after that I would determine what ought to be done.”

- Silence, Shusaku Endo

The current FX series 'Shogun' by Robert Clavell is based on the true story of William Adams and the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyesu, and apart from being one of the very best film series yet made, it shows superbly and relatively accurately the machinations of the Catholic Jesuits to manipulate the Japanese Regents and their Christian convert samurai Lords.

Oda Nobunaga (1534–82) had taken his first step toward uniting Japan as the first missionaries landed, and as his power increased he encouraged the growing Kirishitan movement as a means of subverting the great political strength of Buddhism. Oppressed peasants welcomed the gospel of salvation, but merchants and trade-conscious daimyos saw Christianity as an important link with valuable European trade. Oda’s successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–98), was much cooler toward the alien religion. The Japanese were becoming aware of competition between the Jesuits and the Franciscans and between Spanish and Portuguese trading interests. Toyotomi questioned the reliability of subjects with some allegiance to the foreign power at the Vatican. In 1587 he ordered all foreign missionaries to leave Japan but did not enforce the edict harshly until a decade later, when nine missionaries and 17 native Kirishitan were martyred.

After Toyotomi’s death and the brief regency of his adopted child, the pressures relaxed. However, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the great Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1867), gradually came to see the foreign missionaries as a threat to political stability. By 1614, through his son and successor, Tokugawa Hidetada, he banned Kirishitan and ordered the missionaries expelled. Severe persecution continued for a generation under his son and grandson. Kirishitan were required to renounce their faith on pain of exile or torture. Every family was required to belong to a Buddhist temple, and periodic reports on them were expected from the temple priests.

By 1650 all known Kirishitan had been exiled or executed. Undetected survivors were driven underground into a secret movement that came to be known as Kakure Kirishitan (“Hidden Christians”), existing mainly in western Kyushu island around Nagasaki and Shimabara. To avoid detection they were obliged to practice deceptions such as using images of the Virgin Mary disguised as the popular and merciful Bōsatsu (bodhisattva) Kannon, whose gender is ambiguous and whom carvers often render as female.

The populace at large remained unaware that the Kakure Kirishitan managed to survive for two centuries, and when the prohibition against Roman Catholics began to ease again in the mid-19th century, arriving European priests were told there were no Japanese Christians left. A Roman Catholic church set up in Nagasaki in 1865 was dedicated to the 26 martyrs of 1597, and within the year 20,000 Kakure Kirishitan dropped their disguise and openly professed their Christian faith. They faced some repression during the waning years of the Tokugawa shogunate, but early in the reforms of the emperor Meiji (reigned 1867–1912) the Kirishitan won the right to declare their faith and worship publicly.

Two images in the gallery are drawings of bronze fumi-e in use during the 1660s in Japan, during the time of the persecution. Each of these drawings mirrors actual brass fumi-e portraying Stations of the Cross, which are held in the collections of the Tokyo National Museum.  read more

Code: 25310

675.00 GBP

A Beautiful Samurai Long 17th Century Katana With Very Fine Edo Period Mounts Including Fabulous Quality Hand Chisselled Silver Fuchi Kashira of Takebori Turbulent Seas and Sea Shells. Signed Hisamichi

A Beautiful Samurai Long 17th Century Katana With Very Fine Edo Period Mounts Including Fabulous Quality Hand Chisselled Silver Fuchi Kashira of Takebori Turbulent Seas and Sea Shells. Signed Hisamichi

Very fine signed iron plate hira-kaku-gata tsuba, but when mounted, the tsuba seppa-dai is covered by seppa (metal spacers) and the signature (mei) is not visible. With a mimi {a prominant rim} and a kozuka hitsu-ana, and kogai hitsu ana, and very scarcely seen, twin holes near the rim at the bottom of the tsuba called ude-nuki ana. These represent the sun and moon and were likely used for threading a leather wrist thong to prevent dropping the sword in battle.

Its munuki are bound underneath the micro woven plaied tsuka-ito hilt binding, depict takebori gold and shakudo Mount Fuji, and a man running in the waves that are before Mount Fuji. The saya is black urushi lacquer with a carved buffalo horn kurigata and brown sageo wrap. The blade shows a beautiful notare based on suguha hamon, with pinpricks in the hada. The nakago is signed and bears the signature, Omi no Kami Hisamichi, but not, or very unlikey to be one of the four Mashina school masters, also named Hisamichi

The name katana derives from two old Japanese written characters or symbols: kata, meaning side, and na, or edge. Thus a katana is a single-edged sword that has had few rivals in the annals of war, either in the East or the West. Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan's knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai a very real matter of life or death that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated. European knights and Japanese samurai have some interesting similarities. Both groups rode horses and wore armour. Both came from a wealthy upper class. And both were trained to follow strict codes of moral behaviour. In Europe, these ideals were called chivalry; the samurai code was called Bushido, "the way of the warrior." The rules of chivalry and Bushido both emphasize honour, self-control, loyalty, bravery, and military training.

Samurai have been describes as "the most strictly trained human instruments of war to have existed." They were expected to be proficient in the martial arts of aikido and kendo as well as swordsmanship and archery---the traditional methods of samurai warfare---which were viewed not so much as skills but as art forms that flowed from natural forces that harmonized with nature.
Some samurai, it has been claimed, didn't become a full-fledged samurai until he wandered around the countryside as begging pilgrim for a couple of years to learn humility. When this was completed they achieved samurai status and receives a salary from his daimyo paid from taxes (usually rice) raised from the local populace.

Blade 28.3 inches long, tsuba to tip.  read more

Code: 25301

6750.00 GBP

A Beautiful Antique Edo Samurai Long Katana. A Most Fine Katana With A Good Hon-Zukuri Blade With Midare Hamon and Full Length Hi

A Beautiful Antique Edo Samurai Long Katana. A Most Fine Katana With A Good Hon-Zukuri Blade With Midare Hamon and Full Length Hi

Soten school mounts on a botanical theme, in gold and shakudo, a taka zogan tsuba decorated with a peasant driving a bullock with a mountain in the background. Mumei tang. Very nice blade indeed, hon-zukuri with wonderful hamon in midare form. The stunning menuki, bound under the original Edo micro cord tsuka-ito of birds, are also in gold and shakudo.

This is a katana made for a ranking samurai based on horseback in combat, a medium weight and cursive katana, a battle sword, yet with beautiful fittings and features, and made to complete an uncomprimising task of close combat and aggressive swordmanship.
Although samurai would not, one would say, be a cavalry based warrior, all senior samurai would be mounted and thus travel on horseback, and some cavalry type samurai could be deployed in battle, but with differing combat styles depending on what part of Japan they came from. The cavalry troops, being Samurai, had personal retainers that stayed closer to them in the Sonae, carried their weaponry and worked as support units, much like an European squire. They also joined the fight whenever possible (especially in the mounted infantry scenario) and were often responsible of taking heads for their lords.
These foot Samurai were also used as heavy infantry or archers to support the ashigaru lines.


Tactics
Given the fact that the Samurai could directly dismount and operate as infantry, there were some specific tactics for horsemen.
Cavalry in general was only used after the battle was already started, either to deliver a decisive victory or to trying to save the day.

Norikiri
This is a classic charge, where several small groups of five to ten horseman ride consequently (possibly with a wedge formation) into a small area against the enemy lines, to maximize the shock. It was mainly used by heavy cavalry in the East, but given the fact that the ideal target where "weavering" units with low morale or disorganized, even medium cavalry could perform this charge.
The main role of this charge was to create confusion; if it didn't succeed, the cavalry regroups and either retreat or deliver another charge.

Norikuzushi
This is a combined infantry and cavalry charge. The horseman charged first, and after creating mayhem, a second charge is delivered by infantries armed with polearms, which could keep on fighting. The main target for this tactics were ranged units detached by the army. After a Norikuzushi usually follows a Norikiri by the cavalry group. 30 inch blade tsuba to tip. The saya has two colour lacquer in red and black.  read more

Code: 25300

6850.00 GBP