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Now For Something Different - Edo Period Arrow Cannon


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#1 Surfson

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 10:09 PM

This is a very heavy piece, with cast (?) iron barrel and hot stamps.  My understanding is that it is designed to fire burning arrows as a signal cannon or for lighting enemy roofs on fire.  So sorry that my camera disc failed, so I only have a couple photos.  

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#2 Peter Bleed

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 02:41 AM

This is a very neat little shooting iron! I  think it is probably a late Edo era  noise maker/signal cannon. And I doubt - IMHO - that it for shooting  shooting arrows. I think that technology was largely obsolete  by Edo times. I also bet that it was forged rather than cast, The only thing I am certain of is that IT IS WAY COOL!

Peter


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#3 Surfson

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 03:00 AM

Hi Peter.  I have to agree that it is way cool.  My fiance works at a Japanese male dominated chauvinistic machine tools company and I suggested that she keep it in her office and have it aimed at whoever is sitting in the guest seat.....


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#4 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 01:01 PM

Looks like a lovely little example, ticking all the boxes as far as I can see. Are those inches along that ruler?

 

These little cannon babies are called by the generic name 火矢筒 Hiya-zutsu (flaming arrow barrel) as there was an evolved tradition throughout Edo of shooting flaming bolts (棒火矢 Bo-hiya =bolt flame arrow) rather than lead or iron ball. There were various ways of mounting them on swivelling, sliding and angled bases, using ropes to take up recoil.


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#5 Surfson

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 01:31 PM

Thanks Piers.  Yes, that is 18 inches - the other, smaller scale is mm.  That was my understanding, that it was used to fire burning arrows, and I also found that they are sometimes called O-zutsu.  I haven't weighed it, but it is very heavy.  Do you agree with Peter that it was forged rather than cast?  I have to say that it is beautifully made, and I like the hot stamps a lot.  Wouid they have heated the whole barrel and then hot stamp it very quickly?  


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#6 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 02:22 PM

The stamping imprintation process I am not sure about. One of my guns has similar stamps all over the barrel, but extra work for whoever forged (yes) this barrel, means probably for a wealthy class of client.

 

大筒 O-zutsu literally means large barrel and was more commonly used for large-bore hand-held matchlock versions, so-called 'hand-cannon', but also loosely covers your cannon too. Neither expression is entirely satisfactory from a western point of view, but this never seems to have bothered the Japanese too much. When you use the word Taiho 大砲, it is correct for a cannon, but then you are into field and naval cannon, etc. so to us today it has later date connotations.

 

Hiya-zutsu and early Taiho both denote barrels with touch-holes, with no 'lock' mechanism.


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#7 Surfson

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 03:01 PM

Thanks Piers.  I will refer to it as a Hiya-zutsu then!  I'm going to hang on to it, but any idea as to market value?   I am completely in the dark and imagine that when I move/retire in a few years I will probably not bring it since it is so heavy.  


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#8 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 04:13 PM

Are you in Japan?
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#9 Surfson

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 04:28 AM

No, Chicago. 


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#10 estcrh

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 12:46 AM

I doubt - IMHO - that it for shooting  shooting arrows. I think that technology was largely obsolete  by Edo times.

What the Europe and America considered "obsolete technology" was not necessarily obsolete in Edo period Japan

Japanese touch hole cannon etc. https://www.pinteres...ch-hole-cannon/

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#11 Surfson

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 02:54 PM

That is very similar to mine but it has the projectile.  Would that forward part be soaked in some sort of oil and lit prior to firing?  Also, there is a type of sighting devise on the top and I wonder how it works.  I also wonder where I can get one of those flaming arrows?  Sometimes our condo building has competitive games with our neighboring condo high rise.....


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#12 ROKUJURO

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 03:45 PM

Robert,

it is difficult to say by photos if the cannon is forged. It looks like iron and I think it is cast. I don't believe the decoration was done by heating up the whole piece and then the obviously carefully chosen floral and other (TOMOE) motives were hastily imprinted. They look like made with a chisel.

If you cannot buy a projectile, you could have one made as copy to complete the whole. The head might contain some combustible or even gunpowder.  


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#13 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 05:02 PM

Robert, as Rokujuro says above, you could have one made up. There are very few around; most of those rarities that come up are cleverly 'aged' reproductions like the one above. The head was rounded, usually solid iron. I have seen an example in a museum of an explosive one with a fuse attached, but they were probably later and even rarer. The rope was often soaked in oil, and although I imagine they were lit before firing, it is said that the muzzle flash was enough to set them alight.
The 'sights' on these cannon are almost entirely decorative since they were never 'aimed' directly at anything.
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#14 Surfson

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 09:46 PM

Thanks Piers.  I found a thread started by Ron Watson a few years ago that discusses these things pretty extensively.  In that thread it was mentioned that it is technically a Hiya Taihou, since a zutsu is a flintlock and not a touch lit cannon.  If anybody runs across an original Hiya, let me know, I would love to marry it with the cannon if it is the same bore.  Cheers, Bob

 

http://www.militaria...apanese-cannon/


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#15 Peter Bleed

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 10:22 PM

I was unwise to express an opinion regarding arrow shooting. I had seen the image that Eric presented and it certainly does seem to be like Robert's gun. I would like to see a lot more about Edo era artillery. I wonder if lots of what passed for artillery at that time wasn't largely antiquarian ritualism. There was not much actual use of cannons and it truly seems that when artillery was needed in terminal Edo times, arrow shooting was not practiced.

The larger point I tried to make is that this is a very neat little gun!

Peter


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#16 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 11:58 PM

Mr Ogawa has a huge collection of cannon, some of which are displayed in the new museum in Hagi. (See photo in separate thread.) The Japanese never created what we think of as large artillery pieces. Although they cast cannon in Hokin bronze, there is a theory that with iron they expanded ordinary hand-gun forging to as large as possible, impossibly large hand-held Ozutsu that the first westerners dubbed 'hand-cannon' in their astonishment. Many of these hand cannon were rested on axles and smallish wagon wheels, so sometimes it was difficult to distinguish Ozutsu from Taiho. In the same museum can be seen some examples of Bo-hiya; some were dug up from Edo Period shooting butts.
In Yasukuni Jinja's Yushukan Museum is a giant forged cannon, unbelievably big, but sadly a failure as the bore seems to be crooked.
Although Ron is correct saying Hiya Taiho is technically correct, such an expression does not exist as far as I know among the Japanese.
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#17 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 12:42 AM

Oh and -zutsu or tsutsu 筒 simply means tube, like a section of bamboo, and came to mean barrels, i.e. guns, but not necessarily only limited to matchlocks.
Another word for early cannon was 置筒 okizutsu or 'placed' gun, as opposed to 'held' gun. In fact yours is an okizutsu first and foremost.
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#18 Surfson

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 02:11 AM

Thanks Piers, your knowledge of these weapons is impressive.  And do you think it is forged or cast?  Cheers, Bob


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#19 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 07:14 PM

Unless persuaded otherwise, I have both read and heard that they were forged. Ever keeping an open mind though...
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