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A Beautiful, Shinto Period, Handachi Mounted Samurai Katana. Fitted With All Original Edo Mounts. Showing Great Quality, Shibui {Quietly Reserved} And Without Undue Extravagance. An Impressive Sword With Incredible & Elegant Lines & Curvature

A Beautiful, Shinto Period, Handachi Mounted Samurai Katana. Fitted With All Original Edo Mounts. Showing Great Quality, Shibui {Quietly Reserved} And Without Undue Extravagance. An Impressive Sword With Incredible & Elegant Lines & Curvature

Worthy of any museum grade collection.

All original, fabulous, Edo period koshirae sword fittings and mounts, a fully matching suite of han dachi mounts semi tachi form inlaid in pure gold arabesques on iron, Higo style. The blade is in beautiful polish showing a spectacularly undulating regular gunome hamon. The tsuka is bound in blue silk and the saya has its original old Edo ishime lacquer, the tsuba is a mokko form iron plate inlaid with a stylized dragon in gold to match the fittings.

Han-dachi originally appeared during the Muromachi period when there was a transition taking place from tachi to katana. The sword was being worn more and more edge up when on foot, but edge down on horseback as it had always been. The handachi is a response to the need to be worn in either style. 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."

Samurai were expected to be both fierce warriors and lovers of art, a dichotomy summed up by the Japanese concepts of bu to stop the spear exanding into bushido (the way of life of the warrior) and bun (the artistic, intellectual and spiritual side of the samurai). Originally conceived as away of dignifying raw military power, the two concepts were synthesized in feudal Japan and later became a key feature of Japanese culture and morality.
The quintessential samurai was Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary early Edo-period swordsman who reportedly killed 60 men before his 30th birthday and was also a painting master. Members of a hierarchal class or caste, samurai were the sons of samurai and they were taught from an early age to unquestionably obey their mother, father and daimyo. When they grew older they may be trained by Zen Buddhist masters in meditation and the Zen concepts of impermanence and harmony with nature. The were also taught about painting, calligraphy, nature poetry, mythological literature, flower arranging, and the tea ceremony.

As part of their military training, apparently, samurai were taught to sleep with their right arm underneath them so if they were attacked in the middle of the night and their the left arm was cut off the could still fight with their right arm. Samurai that tossed and turned at night may be cured of the habit by having two knives placed on either side of their pillow.

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.

It can also be said an individual didn't become a full-fledged samurai until he wandered around the countryside as begging pilgrim for a couple of years to learn humility. How accurate this was is dependant on the urgencies of war.

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.

Swords in Japan have long been symbols of power and honour and seen as works of art. Often times swordsmiths were more famous than the people who used them.

As with all our items it comes complete with our certificate of authenticity. Blade tsuba to tip 27.5 inches, overall in saya 38.5  read more

Code: 23038

7950.00 GBP

A Very Good & Beautiful, Late Koto Samurai Katana, Mounted With A Full Suite of Higo Mounts

A Very Good & Beautiful, Late Koto Samurai Katana, Mounted With A Full Suite of Higo Mounts

Circa 1590. All original Edo period koshirae and a leather bound tsuka over bird menuki on a giant rayskin covered hilt, ishime stone lacquer finish saya in bull's blood sang de boeuf lacquer. Very fine Higo mounts including a sayagaki. Fine blade with suguha hamon.

A great sword in very nice condition. Made and used in the time of the greatest battle in samurai history. The Battle of Sekigahara Sekigahara no Tatakai) was a decisive battle on October 21, 1600 that preceded the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate. Initially, Tokugawa's eastern army had 75,000 men, while Ishida's western army numbered 120,000. Tokugawa had also sneaked in a supply of arquebuses. Knowing that Tokugawa was heading towards Osaka, Ishida decided to abandon his positions and marched to Sekigahara. Even though the Western forces had tremendous tactical advantages, Tokugawa had already been in contact with many daimyo in the Western Army for months, promising them land and leniency after the battle should they switch sides.

Tokugawa's forces started the battle when Fukushima Masanori, the leader of the advance guard, charged north from Tokugawa's left flank along the Fuji River against the Western Army's right centre. The ground was still muddy from the previous day's rain, so the conflict there devolved into something more primal. Tokugawa then ordered attacks from his right and his centre against the Western Army?s left in order to support Fukushima's attack.

This left the Western Army's centre unscathed, so Ishida ordered this unit under the command of Shimazu Yoshihiro to reinforce his right flank. Shimazu refused as daimyos of the day only listened to respected commanders, which Ishida was not.

Recent scholarship by Professor Yoshiji Yamasaki of Toho University has indicated that the Mori faction had reached a secret agreement with the Tokugawa two weeks earlier, pledging neutrality at the decisive battle in exchange for a guarantee of territorial preservation, and was a strategic decision on Mori Terumoto's part that later backfired.

Fukushima's attack was slowly gaining ground, but this came at the cost of exposing their flank to attack from across the Fuji River by Otani Yoshitsugu, who took advantage of this opportunity. Just past Otani's forces were those of Kobayakawa Hideaki on Mount Matsuo.

Kobayakawa was one of the daimyos that had been courted by Tokugawa. Even though he had agreed to defect to Tokugawa's side, in the actual battle he was hesitant and remained neutral. As the battle grew more intense, Tokugawa finally ordered arquebuses to fire at Kobayakawa's position on Mount Matsuo to force Kobayakawa to make his choice. At that point Kobayakawa joined the battle as a member of the Eastern Army. His forces charged ?tani's position, which did not end well for Kobayakawa. Otani's forces had dry gunpowder, so they opened fire on the turncoats, making the charge of 16,000 men mostly ineffective. However, he was already engaging forces under the command of Todo Takatora, Kyogoku Takatsugu, and Oda Yuraku when Kobayakawa charged. At this point, the buffer Otani established was outnumbered. Seeing this, Western Army generals Wakisaka Yasuharu, Ogawa Suketada, Akaza Naoyasu, and Kutsuki Mototsuna switched sides, turning the tide of battle  read more

Code: 21331

6450.00 GBP

A Beautiful Late Edo Bakumatsu Copper Katana Tsuba With NBTHK Papers.

A Beautiful Late Edo Bakumatsu Copper Katana Tsuba With NBTHK Papers.

Bakumatsu copper tsuba, NBTHK Kicho Kodugu papers from 2020. With a translation, the "ninteisho" is introducing the document as recognition written in calligraphy. The tsuba is decorated with Aki kusa, Autumn grass [flowers], unsigned. The Nihon Bijutsu Tōken Hozon Kyōkai is a public interest incorporated foundation established in February 1948 to preserve and promote Japanese swords that have artistic value. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other. The tsuba has north and south kuchi-beni.
Literally "lipstick", but refers to the copper plugs of the nakago-ana. Their function is to secure the tsuba firmly when mounted on a blade. These plugs are sometimes called sekigane.  read more

Code: 23510

695.00 GBP

A Beautiful Samurai's Yabusami Bow Sleeve. The Form of Samurai Bowman's Armoured Arm Protection Worn With Full Armour

A Beautiful Samurai's Yabusami Bow Sleeve. The Form of Samurai Bowman's Armoured Arm Protection Worn With Full Armour

For the martial art of Yabusami bowmanship in combat when in full armour. Wonderful condition for age. With a small strip of fully articulated lateral iron shoulder protection armour, decorated with war fans. Gold embossed leather scroll enhancements, doeskin panels decorated at the wrist with a date, and circular elbow protector. All the doeskin is decorated with dark brown and red highlights, in coloured ink, in a traditional floral design used on armour, on the doeskin sections, for centuries. The linen cloth sleeve has carved buffalo horn cord mounts for attaching the sleeve to the armour suit, and two printed gold circular mon decorated on the linen cloth. Although fully armoured in combat, just the archers bow sleeve, worn on the left arm, was not armoured with chain mail or iron plates at all, other than the small iron flexible ridge at the top to protect against an upper sword cut, unlike all the other parts of his samurai armour. This was to allow fully flexible left arm movement. When not armoured and only wearing regular garb, the samurai bow sleeve was shaped somewhat like a leg o'lamb with a very wide shoulder fixing that went acroos the chest to the right arm pit. As described in the section of Chuyuki (a diary written by Fujiwara no Munetada) dated 1096, yabusame has been practiced since the Heian period as a practical fighting bowmanship skill performed on horseback. A technique known as 'the Hidesato-style of yabusame' was practiced during the Kamakura period, and samurai trained in this pastime enthusiastically, giving demonstrations at events organized by the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).  read more

Code: 21518

645.00 GBP

A Fine Edo Tsuba Kaga Kyoto Praying Mantis, Cricket Butterfly in Gold Inlay

A Fine Edo Tsuba Kaga Kyoto Praying Mantis, Cricket Butterfly in Gold Inlay

Circa 1730 from the family of Air Marshal Lord Dowding, commander of the Royal Airforce in WW2. Iron plate inlaid with silver and gold superior Kaga Kyoto school tsuba of fine quality. After Hanabusa Itchō, a very popular subject in Japnese art in the late 17th to 18th century.Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other. 2.5 inches x 2.25 inches  read more

Code: 21757

975.00 GBP

A Beautiful and Most Impressive Nanban-Nari Kabuto High Conical Samurai Helmet. Likely of A Christian Samurai, Known As Krishitan, Momoyama to Edo  Period. With Menpo Face Armour

A Beautiful and Most Impressive Nanban-Nari Kabuto High Conical Samurai Helmet. Likely of A Christian Samurai, Known As Krishitan, Momoyama to Edo Period. With Menpo Face Armour

A Nanban-nari, Christian decorated high conical helmet, with a koshi-no-ita base plate encircles the lower section of the skull, decorated around the border and across the apex with European form strap work with applied rivetted Catholic fleur-de-lys decor, a visor, or tousei mabisashi, is fitted to the front. Three-tiered black lacquer shikoro neck guard with sugake odoshi spaced lacing in very dark red braid. A tatsu tsunomoto holder for the maedate helmet crest, and a maedate in very decoratively pierced sinchu, brass alloy resembling gold. The maedate is of the form with slots that can have optional wakedate flat horns fitted.

The helmets fully embellished fleur-de-lys decor is a symbol of the 16th century Catholic Church, specifically Mary the Virgin. From antiquity it has been the symbol of purity and was readily adopted by the Roman Catholic church to associate the sanctity of Mary with events of special significance. The lily was said to have sprung from the tears shed by Eve as she left Eden. Thus, when Pope Leo III in 800 crowned Charlemagne as emperor, he is reported to have presented him with a blue banner covered (semé) with golden fleurs-de-lis.

The kabuto has a matching form Menpō face armour, that covered the face from the top of the nose down to the chin, with four rows of yodare-kake, throat guard armour. An early syle affixed and none removable nasal cover. All the main helmet and menpo surfaces, {except the shikoro} are in Higo russetted form.

Every year oir so we are delighted to acquired samurai swords with hidden Christian {Kakure Kirishitan} symbology, such as tsuba with pierced crucifix within in their designs, but we cannot recall ever seeing a Krishitan symbolised kabuto over these past 50 years. Only in Japanese museums, and very few of these.

The Nanban-nari Kabuto was introduced from the West during the Warring States period. Because it imitates the shape of a hat, it was called a “Nanban hat helmet”. Only the helmets bowl (Hachi ) was Nanban, other parts like Shikoro and Mabisashi were made and designed domestic style. This brand new kind of helmet was very popular at the time of introduction.
Nanban, In Japanese literally means “southern Barbarians”, actually refers to Europeans, because they came from the south of Japan. The helmets of the Europeans, Spanish and Portuguese, were of the morion or cabassat form. These new ‘barbarians’ not only brought Catholic monks to convert the samurai and their vassal peasants to Christianity, but their muskets, cannon, armour, leather, and clothing became de-riguer to influence everything from decor fashion armour and clothing. Especially amongst the converted daimyo lords, his family, and his samurai.

Face armour in Japan begins with the happuri, which is depicted in Heian- and Kamakura-era yamato-e paintings, and is thought to have appeared during the 10th or 11th centuries.It is depicted as being worn with or without a helmet by both mounted warriors and foot retainers. By the 14th century, the hōate appears, and according to Tom Conlan, this development is behind decreased facial wound statistics. However, others, such as Yamagishi Sumio, believe that the hōate was not widespread at that time, as it—and the later menpō—restricted the vision of the wearer. Hōate are also portrayed in art and literature of the period, most notably the Aki no yo no Nagamonogatari scroll and Taiheiki. The menpō (half-mask with detachable nosepiece) and the sōmen (full face mask) are believed to have been introduced around the mid to late 15th century, and the hanbō (chin guard) in the second half of the 16th century.

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.

The interior lining and cords of this kabuto have been replaced in the past 100 years  read more

Code: 25202

7450.00 GBP

A Most Beautiful Tachi-kake Samurai Sword Stand With Maki-e Gold Nabeshima Clan Mon

A Most Beautiful Tachi-kake Samurai Sword Stand With Maki-e Gold Nabeshima Clan Mon

In black urushi lacquer, and It bears two mon, 'Daki Myoga' mon of the great Nebeshima clan. Two opposing ginger plants.

the Nabeshima clan did not take the name Nabeshima, however, until the late 15th century, when Shoni Shigenao established himself at Nabeshima in Hizen province (today part of Saga City, Saga prefecture). Later, in the Sengoku period (1467-1603), the Nabeshima were one of a number of clans which clashed over the island. The Nabeshima sided with the Ryuzoji clan against the Otomo clan, though this ultimately ended in failure and the death of Ryuzoji Takanobu at the 1584 battle of Okita Nawate. Several years later, however, the Nabeshima recovered power and prominence by aiding Toyotomi Hideyoshi in his 1587 invasion of Kyushu; Nabeshima Naoshige was granted the region of Saga as his fief, as a reward for his efforts. Naoshige also contributed to Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea in the 1590s.

The clan initially aided Ishida Mitsunari against Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Sekigahara Campaign in 1600. However, they switched sides to support the Tokugawa, who were ultimately victorious, before the campaign had ended, battling and occupying the forces of Tachibana Muneshige, who was thus prevented from contributing directly to the battle of Sekigahara. Though regarded as tozama daimyo ("outside" lords), and assigned particularly heavy corvee duties, the Nabeshima were allowed to keep their territory in Saga, and in fact had their kokudaka increased. The clan's forces served the new Tokugawa shogunate loyally in the years which followed; they remained in Kyushu during the 1615 Osaka Campaign as a check against a possible rebellion or uprising by the Shimazu clan, and aided in the suppression of the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637. In recognition of their service, members of the clan were granted the prestigious family name Matsudaira in 1648.

During the Edo period, the clan's Saga domain became quite famous.

28 inches high overall, base 10 inches wide x 13.25 depth inches  read more

Code: 24456

1350.00 GBP

A Stunning and Impressively Powerful Koto Katana, Circa 1500. With All Original Edo Period Koshirae Mountings. A Fabulous Sword of Likely a Seieibushi {the Highest Ranked Elite Samurai} Traditionally the Highest Rank of Elite Samurai

A Stunning and Impressively Powerful Koto Katana, Circa 1500. With All Original Edo Period Koshirae Mountings. A Fabulous Sword of Likely a Seieibushi {the Highest Ranked Elite Samurai} Traditionally the Highest Rank of Elite Samurai

Originally made around 500 years ago for a samurai of considerable size and status befitting a sword of this power and presence. Photos of the blade to add Friday 12th

It bears a beautfully fine Koto blade, around 1500, yet, most rarely it shows it is ubu {unshortened} and it displays a very fine suguha hamon, very much the usual tradition during the Koto period.

Most blades of this age have had some element of shortening, which is entirely usual, and most normal.
Shortening most commonly occurs when a successor to the original katana owner, another samurai, was shorter than his predecessor, and thus so on, and thefore needs the blade slightly shortened {always from the bottom of the nakago under the hilt upwards, even if it’s just by an inch or so}. Very ancient blades can often show evidence of several shortenings, by the presence of numerous mekugi ana interspaced down the tang.

The all original Edo period mounts, fuchi kashira, are Higo style in tetsu, decorated with a takebori cormorant fisherman carrying his catch to market, on the fuchi, and his hanging nets on the kashira. The tsuba, also in finely aged tetsu, tsuchime, with very delicate Amidayasuri filemarks, or carving, representing the halo emanating from Amida Buddha, is very beautiful, impressive and signed, with two, most unusually still present, narrow bars of sinchu bordering the inner kogai hitsu-ana and kozuka hitsu-ana, these are more than often lost .
It appears the mei {signature} on the tsuba is 山吉 or Yamakichi bei who was originally an armour smith from Owari or modern Nagoya area.
The shodai worked around the same time as the first Nobuie (end of Muromachi) and nearly as highly regarded, but this example may well be later. Pale gold tsukaito silk binding over pure gold decorated shakudo menuki on the samegawa {giant rayskin}.

The saya is traditional and original Edo period, brown urushi, ishime style, stone finish lacquer, in very fine condition, and the saya is mounted with a Higo sayajiri depicting a dragon in light takebori tettsu.

When one considers this sword was carried by successive samurai from the British timeline of the Tudor kings, starting with King Henry VIIth, King Henry VIIIth’s father, it is in simply remarkable condition. We doubt of there is a single solitary example of a European sword of this great age, preserved anywhere near as well as this blade, that is appearing almost as new.


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."

Samurai were expected to be both fierce warriors and lovers of art, a dichotomy summed up by the Japanese concepts of to stop the spear expanding into bushido (the way of life of the warrior) and bun (the artistic, intellectual and spiritual side of the samurai). Originally conceived as away of dignifying raw military power, the two concepts were synthesised in feudal Japan and later became a key feature of Japanese culture and morality.The quintessential samurai was Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary early Edo-period swordsman who reportedly killed 60 men before his 30th birthday and was also a painting master. Members of a hierarchal class or caste, samurai were the sons of samurai and they were taught from an early age to unquestionably obey their mother, father and daimyo. When they grew older they may be trained by Zen Buddhist masters in meditation and the Zen concepts of impermanence and harmony with nature. The were also taught about painting, calligraphy, nature poetry, mythological literature, flower arranging, and the tea ceremony.

it has been said that part of their military training, samurai were taught to sleep with their right arm underneath them so if they were attacked in the middle of the night and their the left arm was cut off the could still fight with their right arm. Samurai that tossed and turned at night were cured of the habit by having two knives placed on either side of their pillow.

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.
An individual 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. Swords in Japan have long been symbols of power and honour and seen as works of art. 40 inches long overall, blade tsuba to tip, 28.5 inches  read more

Code: 25215

9450.00 GBP

A Japanese Kayakuire Powder Flask

A Japanese Kayakuire Powder Flask

Kayakuire (Powder Flask) is an essential element of the Teppo Tai (Japanese Gunners or Riflemen). The kayaku is the flask used to contain the main powder charge, when there was no hayago (fast-loading tube). The gunpowder in the kayakuire was poured down the teppo canon, followed by a wadding, iron ball, and then hit with the karuka (ramrod). The Samurai's teppo has been used in Samurai Warfare since their introduction to the Samurai, in 1543, by the Portugese. Much of Japan was involved with internecine wars during the Sengoku period (1467-1603), as feudal lords vied for supremacy. Matchlock guns were introduced midway through the period and saw extensive use in the later years of the conflict, playing a decisive role on the battlefield. In 1549, Oda Nobunaga ordered 500 guns to be produced for his armies at a time when the benefits of firearms over traditional weapons were still relatively questionable to other daimyo.

The Japanese soon worked on various techniques to improve the effectiveness of their guns. They developed a staggered firing technique to create a continuous rain of bullets on the enemy. They also developed larger caliber barrels and ammunition to increase lethality. Protective boxes in lacquerware were invented to fit over the firing mechanism so it could still fire while it was raining, as were systems to accurately fire weapons at night by keeping fixed angles thanks to measured strings. Another development would be the hayago, a bamboo cartridge used to facilitate faster reloading. A hollow tube open on the both ends, the hayago contained gun powder, wadding, and a bullet. Upon tearing open the tube's paper seal at the bottom, a soldier could quickly use it to pour the necessary powder into his weapon before placing over the barrel and using his rammer to load both wadding and bullet into the barrel at the same time. After use, the hayago could be kept for repacking or discarded. One significant place to see other original Samurai Tanegeshima in present day Japan is in Matsumoto Castle, within their armoury. Particular importance in the collection are the Tanageshima, which played an important role during the massive battle for Osaka Castle in 1615. The main articles in the collection are matchlocks manufactured in the period from 1543 (when guns were introduced by the Portuguese through Tanegashima island) through to the late Edo period during the long Tokugawa peace. In total there are 141 guns of different design, caliber and period, and 230 pieces of armor. All of the weapons were made in Japan during a century in which enormous changes took place, both in Japan's social and political organization and modernisation prior to the closing of the country and 250 years of relative isolation. Matsumoto Castle was built some 50 years after the introduction by Portuguese traders of firearms into Japan. For this reason the walls of the turrets (Nurigome-zukuri) are thick enough to withstand bullets, and the defences were built in depth. As firearms were also used to defend the castle, the donjon has 55 square holes called teppozama, from which matchlock muskets (and in some cases small cannon) could bring fire to bear on an assaulting force.  read more

Code: 23210

425.00 GBP

A Very Fine & Long 15th Century Katana, Around 600 Years Old, From An Historically Significant Great Samurai Clan, The Nabeshima Descendents of the Fujiwara, With Traditional Stone Polished Blade

A Very Fine & Long 15th Century Katana, Around 600 Years Old, From An Historically Significant Great Samurai Clan, The Nabeshima Descendents of the Fujiwara, With Traditional Stone Polished Blade

The blade was sent to Japan some years ago for a fine stone traditional re polish. This superb ancient blade has a stunningly elegant curvature, and combined with a simply spectacular, vibrant and deep hamon, absolutely breathtaking, and very healthy for its age, and thus it makes this blade very special indeed, it is also very unusual for a blade of this age to survive its great length without alteration. The blade was fully traditionally stone polished. It has all its original Edo fittings, and its fine signed tsuba by Kinai of Echizen. It bears two mon, one in silver, 'Daki Myoga' mon of the great Nebeshima clan on the kashira, and the 'Sagarifuji' mon of the Fujiwara clan on the fuchi. The Nabeshima clan was a cadet branch of the Shoni clan and was descended from the Fujiwara clan. The Fujiwara became so powerful they had absolute control over the Imperial court. By the year 1000, Fujiwara no Michinaga was able to enthrone and dethrone emperors at will, effectively, "hereditary dictators". The Fujiwara controlled the throne until the reign of Emperor Go-Sanjō (1068–73), the first emperor not born of a Fujiwara mother since the ninth century. Emperor Go-Sanjō, determined to restore imperial control through strong personal rule, implemented reforms to curb Fujiwara influence. In the late 12th century, Fujiwara no Sukeyori, a descendant of Fujiwara no Hidesato in the 9th generation, received the title of Dazai Shoni (equivalent to that of vice-governor of the military government of Kyushu) from Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo, and the title became the family name.

The clan played an important role in the region as early as the Muromachi period, when it helped suppress opposition to the Ashikaga shogunate's control of Kyushu. It did not take the name Nabeshima, however, until the late 15th century, when Shoni Shigenao established himself at Nabeshima in Hizen province (today part of Saga City, Saga prefecture). Later, in the Sengoku period (1467-1603), the Nabeshima were one of a number of clans which clashed over the island. The Nabeshima sided with the Ryuzoji clan against the Otomo clan, though this ultimately ended in failure and the death of Ryuzoji Takanobu at the 1584 battle of Okita Nawate. Several years later, however, the Nabeshima recovered power and prominence by aiding Toyotomi Hideyoshi in his 1587 invasion of Kyushu; Nabeshima Naoshige was granted the region of Saga as his fief, as a reward for his efforts. Naoshige also contributed to Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea in the 1590s.

The clan initially aided Ishida Mitsunari against Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Sekigahara Campaign in 1600. However, they switched sides to support the Tokugawa, who were ultimately victorious, before the campaign had ended, battling and occupying the forces of Tachibana Muneshige, who was thus prevented from contributing directly to the battle of Sekigahara. Though regarded as tozama daimyo ("outside" lords), and assigned particularly heavy corvee duties, the Nabeshima were allowed to keep their territory in Saga, and in fact had their kokudaka increased. The clan's forces served the new Tokugawa shogunate loyally in the years which followed; they remained in Kyushu during the 1615 Osaka Campaign as a check against a possible rebellion or uprising by the Shimazu clan, and aided in the suppression of the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637. In recognition of their service, members of the clan were granted the prestigious family name Matsudaira in 1648.

During the Edo period, the clan's Saga domain became quite famous. There is a stunning picture in our gallery of a painting in the British Museum, by an unknown artist, of Portrait of a Nabeshima lord, Fujiwara; Munemitsu of the Nabeshima clan wearing his tanto, with it's Nabeshima 'Daki Myoga' mon. The sukashi round tsuba is signed Echizen no Ju Kinai Saku, in the form of an aoi, or hollyhock plant, possibly by godai Ishikawa. Likely a branch of the Miōchin (Group IV), this family was founded by Ishikawa Kinai, who moved from Kiōto to Echizen province Japanese text and died in 1680. The succeeding masters, however, bore the surname of Takahashi. All sign only Kinai Japanese text, with differences in the characters used and in the manner of writing them.

The Kinai made guards only, of hard and well forged iron usually coated with the black magnetic oxide. They confined themselves to pierced relief showing extraordinary cleanness both of design and execution. Any considerable heightening of gold is found as a rule only in later work. Dragons in the round appear first in guards by the third master, fishes, birds, etc., in those of the fifth; while designs of autumn flowers and the like come still later. There are examples of Kinai tsuba in the Ashmolean and the British Museum. Very long 30.75 inch unsigned blade, measured tsuba to tip.  read more

Code: 23298

9850.00 GBP