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Matchlock pistol
Place of Origin: Japan
Historical Period: Edo period (1615-1868)
Materials: Iron, wood, lacquer, gold, and silver
Dimensions: H. 3 3/4 in x L. 12 in, H. 9.5 cm x 32.4 cm
Credit Line: Gift of Dr. and Mrs. William Wedemeyer
Department: Japanese Art
Collection: Arms And Armament
Object Number: 2004.39
On Display: Yes
Location: Gallery 27

Description

Label:

A family crest of golden stars, consisting of a large, central circle surrounded by eight smaller ones, has been applied to the top of the gun barrel. A group of shining stars was a symbol of hope and good luck. Some twenty-four samurai families used this type of crest. The pistol's stock is decorated with floral scrolls in gold and silver against a black lacquered background.

Matchlock pistols were said to have been made only in Japan, though in fact a few were also made in Central Europe. Intended for use by mounted samurai, these pistols were called "horsemen's" cannons (bajo zutsu). They proved, however, to be totally impractical weapons to fire, since the rider had to ignite a piece of cord in the lock, or firing chamber, and at the same time control his moving horse. Nonetheless, owning a pistol remained a symbol of a samurai family's power, rank, and wealth.


Label:

A family crest of golden stars, consisting of a large, central circle surrounded by eight smaller ones, has been applied to the top of the gun barrel. A group of shining stars was a symbol of hope and good luck. Some twenty-four samurai families used this type of crest. The pistol's stock is decorated with floral scrolls in gold and silver against a black lacquered background.

Matchlock pistols were said to have been made only in Japan, though in fact a few were also made in Central Europe. Intended for use by mounted samurai, these pistols were called "horsemen's" cannons (bajo zutsu). They proved, however, to be totally impractical weapons to fire, since the rider had to ignite a piece of cord in the lock, or firing chamber, and at the same time control his moving horse. Nonetheless, owning a pistol remained a symbol of a samurai family's power, rank, and wealth.