A VERY RARE JAPANESE MATCHLOCK PISTOL INSCRIBED TENSHÕ GAN-NEN GO-GATSU, KAZARI-NO, MATSUDAIRA-AWA-NO-KAMI, FOR THE FEUDAL LORD OF THE AWA AREA

Edo period 17th/18th century

Metal and wood, black and gold lacquered and inlaid with gold and silver.


L. 35.5 cm

Inscribed: Tenshõ Gan-nen go-gatsu, Kazari-no, Matsudaira-Awa-no-Kami. Matsudaira-Awano- kami is the general name for an official position of a feudal lord of the Awa area.

The Hachisuka family held this position for most of the Edo period. Kazari-no could indicate that the pistol decorated with the Tokugawa crest of the stylized “aoi” leaves (hollyhock), was a present from Tokugawa to Hachisuka. Tenshõ Gan-nen stands for the period starting the 28 of July 1573 and go-gatsu for May. The barrel is decorated with a gold dragon and silver clouds.

Firearms were introduced in Japan in the 16th century by the Portuguese and played a decisive role in the long civil war that ended in the establishment of the Shogunate. This victory launched the Edo period of enduring political and economic stability from 1603 till 1868. During this period of stability, Japanese firearms hardly changed or developed, making exact dating difficult. The “closed country” policies of the Shogunate forbade the export of weapons and even of illustrations of them. Therefore very few Japanese firearms left the country, at least before the opening up of the country in 1868.
The Awa area, present day Tokushima prefecture on Shikoku island.

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