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Woodblock print with matchlocks!


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Besides matchlocks and things linked to this subject, I also try to collect woodblock prints depicting scenes with matchlocks.

This is a rather tall order, because the "matchlock-prints" are far and few between.

I´ve manged to lay my hand on three. Compared to the normal prints depicting samurais in all their glory, these ones have a more dark, dare I say almost sinister feel to them. Or perhaps is just me... Two of these have been published on this forum before.

 

The first one is showing Takeda Shingen contemplating over a ten-monme matchlock. Is he foreseeing his own clans demise at Nagashino 1575? There is def something in his eyes.

 

The second one gives us snapshot from the Tonegawa turf war when Shirataki Sashichi participated in a revolt. This is a dark print. He has just fired his gun and is now watching the outcome of that shot. No glory in this print what so ever.

 

With the third one we really take at step down the abyss. This is Akechi Mitsuharu. The cousin of the infamous Akechi Mitsuhide who led a rebellion and killed Oda Nobunaga 1582. He was quickly dealt with by Toyotomi Hideyoshi 13 days later at the battle of Yamazaki. The man on this print missed the battle and atoned for this by committing hara-kiri. He wrote his deathpoem on a door with his own blood.

This print is also rather gloomy even if his clothes are colorful. He has his back turned towards the onlooker almost hiding the matchlock which he is aiming towards some kind of mystic creature in the bamboo grove.

 

Not the best PR for the matchlock...

 

Would love to see if my fellow boardmembers managed to find any other prints which includes matchlocks.

 

Jan

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Hi Jan

 

In the same series as the image of Shirataki Sashichi is a dramatic depiction of Seiriki Tamigorō shooting himself with a rifle.

'Kinsei kyōgiden (近世 侠義傳 - Biographies of Modern Men)' Yoshitoshi.

 

From the same series as your image of Akechi Mitsuharu - Taiheiki Eiyu den (Utagawa Kuniyoshi):

 

2 come to mind

 

Ina-ue Daikurô Masatada in armor without a helmet, firing a small cannon

Robinson: S62.16

Number: 47

 

Sasai Kyûzô Masayasu enveloped in smoke by a volley of musket fire at the Battle of the Anegawa in 1570

Robinson: S62.36

Number: 12

 

Cheers

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Some nice examples, Jan, tying art, history and the Tanegashima-style Hinawa-Ju matchlock together. :clap:

 

Are yours framed and on the walls, or in a folder?

 

BTW Great idea to start a dedicated thread on matchlock woodblock prints.

 

*I have shown most of mine somewhere on this site already, not that I have many, and they tend not to be in very good condition as good ones can cost a small fortune. :bang:

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Piers, so far they are all framed and hanging on the wall(s) :D But because of restrictions in the space-department I have desided to exclusively go after matchlock-prints in the future. Takes longer time between buys...

I must have missed your matchlock prints, so please share a few whenever you have the time. Perhaps after next weekend ;)

 

Jan

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Jan, you are starting to sound like Takeda Shingen above!!! What do you have in common? Do I sense extra meaning behind your words, I wonder? :lol:

 

The prints that I showed have mostly made their way onto Eric's Pinterest site. Maybe a link to there would be the best short-cut.

 

In the meantime, I'll dig some up after the weekend! 8)

 

(Got competiton now.... grrr........)

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Piers, I feel rather honoured that you even consider

comparing me with such great warlord as Shingen :)

I might use a dual meaning in my replys... ;)

Good luck with the next couple of days hard

competitions.

 

Jan

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Competitions? :?: Ah, no, I meant competition with you for scarce resources! :rotfl:

 

Tomorrow I have to go to Himeji for the joint Kantei where they will have something like 38 Sue Bizen blades to the members to wrassle with, and the drunken group grope afterwards. Well, dinner and a stayover to sleep off the hangover.

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Would love to see if my fellow boardmembers managed to find any other prints which includes matchlocks.

 

Jan

 

Well, this isn't a print, but appears to be a one-off original painting. It came "out of the blue" from a local auction in what appears to be a modern (i.e., recent) framing. It features two hunters with line-of-sight points on birds and other lines from parts of the bodies to explanatory notes. The work is 41cm x 19cm. A curious feature to me is that the text at the top of the work is upside down. It appears to be two separate images joined together before the red lines were drawn, then folded into four as in a "brochure" style. I'm wildly guessing this is Meiji period because of the bright green colours (aniline dyes??) and of course the foxing indicates age, but what?? I note the presence of numbers and katakana but have not done any work on translation. I put it here for interest re the matchlocks and if anyone cares to translate the text i'm sure we will all be the wiser. Anyway, FWIW here are some images.

 

Bestests,

BaZZa.

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Gosh, now that is something special. Well done on finding that Bazza. It combines two worlds that I find myself caught up in.

(Shooting owls and shooting cranes, yes, you guessed it!)

 

The meanings of this form of shorthand are not immediately clear so I will pass until Morita San or Moriyama San appears. In the meantime I will show it to some friends for ideas.

 

If ever you need to sell it, please put me on the list! :clap:

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Would love to see if my fellow boardmembers managed to find any other prints which includes matchlocks.

 

Jan

 

Well, this isn't a print, but appears to be a one-off original painting. It came "out of the blue" from a local auction in what appears to be a modern (i.e., recent) framing. It features two hunters with line-of-sight points on birds and other lines from parts of the bodies to explanatory notes. The work is 41cm x 19cm. A curious feature to me is that the text at the top of the work is upside down. It appears to be two separate images joined together before the red lines were drawn, then folded into four as in a "brochure" style. I'm wildly guessing this is Meiji period because of the bright green colours (aniline dyes??) and of course the foxing indicates age, but what?? I note the presence of numbers and katakana but have not done any work on translation. I put it here for interest re the matchlocks and if anyone cares to translate the text i'm sure we will all be the wiser. Anyway, FWIW here are some images.

 

Bestests,

BaZZa.

This is the type of illustration seen in Japanese gunnery manuals.

 

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I once made a long journey by rail and on foot to a museum that I had been told was holding a special exhibition on guns and gunnery. Cannot for the life of me remember where except that it was way out in the sticks in a brand new and very swishy building. When I arrived, it turned out that the exhibition was of about a dozen scrolls from various gunnery schools without a single hinawaju in sight. Linear meter after meter of scrolls done in cursive script, only one of which even had illustrations like this. Wandered round looking totally bemused then stalked off to get a bowl of noodles.

Ian Bottomlet

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I once made a long journey by rail and on foot to a museum that I had been told was holding a special exhibition on guns and gunnery. Cannot for the life of me remember where except that it was way out in the sticks in a brand new and very swishy building. When I arrived, it turned out that the exhibition was of about a dozen scrolls from various gunnery schools without a single hinawaju in sight. Linear meter after meter of scrolls done in cursive script, only one of which even had illustrations like this. Wandered round looking totally bemused then stalked off to get a bowl of noodles.

Ian Bottomlet

Ian, I just added about 25 very good quality, high resolution, detailed color images that I have not seen before from an Inatomi gun manual showing how to use the sights on matchlocks. Something I had not noticed before is the use of a removable sight that slid into the barrel sight closest to the butt.

 

http://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/ ... he-meiji-/

 

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Wow.

The cutout shape of the rear sight on many of these made no sense to me at all, until I just saw this pic of yours Eric.

It's the first time there has been any reason for it to be that shape. Thanks for sharing, I consider this an important (for me) discovery.

Btw..really wish you would occasionally upload these pics directly instead of linking to them. Otherwise I always expect them to be dead links in a year or 2, and the posts having lost their relevance.

 

Brian

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Some of the Awa guns still have a folding sight there, although most have lost them.

 

There were several words in Japanese for these ladder sights, probably different for each school of gunnery, and none likely to bring a look of recognition to any modern Japanese face. Sawada San still has one with its original box.

 

The near sight was called 元目当て "Moto-me-ate" in general and the far one, 先目当 "Saki-me-ate".

 

The removable, folding ladder sight for the Moto-me-ate can be described for ease of understanding as 矢倉目当 "Yagura Me-ate", or "Tower sight".

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Dear All,

Upon examining the example given in the Inatomi gun manual, ... I am at a complete loss as to what the instructor is trying to convey. The use of middle sights on ANY firearm are useless. Since he shows the barrel elevated from the horizontal he appears to be teaching ... " distance shooting ", ... but how exactly ??

 

The use of " elevator " sights are still used today in long range target shooting to make allowance for bullet trajectory ( the problem of gravitational pull, air resistance and loss of bullet velocity necessitating their use ). I have been studying the instructor's drawing and quite frankly cannot understand what he is trying to convey.

 

My grandson and I have taken a couple of photographs to illustrate for those not familiar with firearms or sighting or shooting at long distances the correct application of the " elevator " sight. Today we call this sight " elevation adjustment " as opposed to side to side adjustment which is known as " windage " adjustment.

 

In the first photograph ( of my Grandson ), ... you can see the " elevator " sight, ... and how by using a combination of the FRONT sight and the ELEVATOR sight .. the eye by looking thru the aperture of the " elevator " sight and putting the front sight on the target give the barrel an upward angle even though the eye TO " elevator " sight TO front sight remain a straight line To the target. Note however the upward angle of the barrel. When the bullet leaves the barrel it carries to a height much higher than the target until it hits a maximum height where gravity, air resistance and loss of speed cause it to start on a downward curve towards the target. This is called the bullet's trajectory ( path ). The adjustment of the aperture's height on the " elevator " sight depends upon the distance to a given target. The further away, the higher up the " elevator " sight the aperture must be set. The distance to the target is unless previously known must be estimated in this type of shooting. Now then if he were shooting at a target where trajectory does not play such a big part ( as in short distance ), ... he would basically be using sights that allow both his line of sight and the barrel to be more or less nice and horizontal instead of needing the " elevator " sight.

 

At any rate shooting with a smooth bore firearm as the Matchlock ... you may well adjust for elevation, but as far as windage goes forget it. You may hit something beyond 100 yards but you will in all probability never hit an aimed at target. Much of the Inatomi gun manual makes little or no sense. It is however a historic and interesting document.

 

... Ron Watson

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Years ago I had a Carcano 6.5mm Italian rifle with sights that ranged to I think 1200 meters. The pic of the boy is what the rifle looked like when sighting to max. range. It was totally uncomfortable and with that 6.5 round like throwing rocks at that distance. Such a poor rifle and this is what Oswald used to rapidly fire upon JFK? Incredible and unlikely. John

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Morning Eric,

 

Talk about a moment of clarity.

 

I have wondered why the rear sight was constructed so.

 

Now seeing the slide in ladder sight / elevator, it all makes perfect sense.

 

I shall be scouring the flea markets when I'm in Japan for "Hamster Ladders" :roll:

 

Much appreciated info. :beer: :beer: :beer:

 

Cheers

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Morning Eric,

 

Talk about a moment of clarity.

 

I have wondered why the rear sight was constructed so.

 

Now seeing the slide in ladder sight / elevator, it all makes perfect sense.

 

I shall be scouring the flea markets when I'm in Japan for "Hamster Ladders" :roll:

 

Much appreciated info. :beer: :beer: :beer:

 

Cheers

Malcolm, looks like some front sights had the same set up, some of the scrolls I have seen go into great detail on targeting through various sights.

 

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Dear All,

Again, ... the Inatomi sighting ( shooting ) manual makes no sense. Putting an " elevator " ( elevation adjustment ) on the front sight ( muzzle sight ) instead of the rear sight makes absolutely no sense. What would happen using this type of arrangement would be at best to hit the ground in front of the shooter as in order to make a straight line with eye from the rear sight to front " elevator " sight one would be depressing the barrel to a point a few feet in front of the shooter.

 

A short lesson in " sights " may be of some help here as we have members with no experience with firearms or shooting. The first firearms had NO sights. One simply pointed the barrel in the correct direction and hoped for the best using only the human EYE and the TARGET as a sighting arrangement. The next level of technology we see a FRONT sight only on firearms such as on the Brown Bess Muskets where the EYE to the FRONT sight to the TARGET is the sighting arrangement. Very few smooth bore muskets had rear sights ( some exceptions ) as the accuracy of the smooth bore did not facilitate proper 4 point sighting ( eye, rear sight, front sight, target ). The smooth bore musket was simply too inaccurate. At longer distances than say over 100 yards one simply aimed above the target in hopes of a hit. Then along came rifled barrels and suddenly the ability due to improved accuracy of actually hitting what you aimed at ... and technology caught up with the addition of a REAR sight. Now we have ( very important ) ... EYE to REAR sight to FRONT sight to TARGET arrangement. NOTE, NOTE this is as much as the human eye can handle in the way of actually employing ANY SIGHTS. In point of fact the human eye can only handle TWO out of the THREE and still focus. Actually what happens is the human eye automatically adjusts to the REAR sight when you place the FRONT sight in the correct line with the TARGET. At this point in firing the gun, one ignores the rear sight ( as at best it is just a blurr ) and concentrates on placing the FRONT sight on the TARGET. This is why for IRON SIGHTS COMPETITIVE TARGET SHOOTING we use an aperture rear sight as the eye automatically centers the rear sight and we only concentrate on the front sight and the target.

 

Now looking at the Japanese Matchlock ( always smoothbore ) we usually always see a rear sight ( uncommon on western muskets of the same period ). On a few ( somewhat rare ) we find a middle sight and sometimes ( very rare ) two middle sights plus a front sight. All that one can think of for a reason for the extra middle sight ( or two ) is the penchant the Japanese have for improving upon pre-existing design. In this case the improvement is NOT an improvement at all as the middle sights are completely useless ( if someone wants to challenge me on this ... please do as I was not only a PROVINCIAL Shooting Champion but a Shooting Instructor and will happily provide newspaper clippings to the members to prove it ) ... just ask .

 

Again I emphasise the Inatomi shooting manual is an interesting historical document but many of the illustrations have nothing to do with proper shooting instruction. In particular the last example Eric posted is pure rubbish and NO instructor Japanese or otherwise would have ever employed an " elevator " sight as a front sight.

 

In order to fully appreciate ( not necessarily to collect ), ... but fully appreciate and UNDERSTAND the Japanese Matchlock or any type of firearm for that matter one must have some background in actual shooting ... without such background silly and incorrect information will inevitably be posted and people will not learn. Yes, ... the Japanese manual shows an " elevator " front sight, ... but how many will assume this must have been thus employed ?? ... if we do not explain why it is incorrect.

 

... Ron Watson

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Ron,

I'm afraid I fail to see your point here. The use of a sight is perfectly obvious to many of us. That hasn't been debated at all. What is being posted are the actual manuals and prints from that era. Whether the info is useable or not is irrellevant. What is of interest is the fact that they were printed that way, and are of significant importance because of their age and the fact that this is what they had in mind at the time....correct or not.

We are not trying to learn to shoot a tanegashima here. Those that have them, likely know how they were used. We are looking at their manuals with interest. Whether the illustrations helped them or not back then...the sights were made that way, and clearly the ladder sights were manufactured.

It is impossible for us to know what they were intending to depict with their prints, without a full and accurate translation. Perhaps the written instructions make more sense. Perhaps not. We cannot slam them without a detailed translation though.

But I care little whether they are accurate or not, since I am not trying to follow their instructions. I don't need to learn how to use volley sights, being an instructor myself.

The same way much Ukiyoe isn't 100% accurate, we have to look at these things not in a technical way, but for their artistic merits.

Let's not shoot the messenger here. I am enjoying the posts a great deal.

 

Brian

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Dear Brian,

What I was trying to point out here, ... is for instance Malcolm and perhaps Eric seem to be under the impression that the ladder sights were used as depicted, ... wherein this is incorrect ( perhaps I am incorrect in thinking so, but few people actually know much about shooting anymore ). I meant no ill against anyone, ... but rather to point out that misconceptions may arise from how we interpret photographs and or prints. I did point out that the Inatomi Manual although incorrect in their depictions were important historically. I go back to my statement : " Yes, ... the Japanese manual shows an " elevator " front sight, ... but how many will assume this must have been thus employed ?? ... if we do not explain why it is incorrect. "

I too am enjoying the posts. If I have offended anyone I apologize, .. it was NOT my intent.

 

... Ron Watson

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Sorry if I came across too harsh too. But it was sounding a little like you were blaming Eric for posting the "rubbish" and not just pointing out their methods back then were inaccurate.

I have no idea what they are trying to convey...but if a matchlock has that odd shaped sight at the front or the rear, at least we now know what they intended it for..even if we doubt they knew what to do with it ;)

Keep them coming Eric..love seeing these.

 

Brian

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Dear Brian et al,

The ladder, elevator or elevation sight is so RARE to find today ( for the Japanese Matchlock ) that one must assume, that although most Japanese Matchlock rear sights make allowance for them that VERY few were ever produced. A more plausible explanation for the lack of these rare to find sighting attachments can only be explained by : ... like so many Japanese customs, ... that's the way sights ( things ) have always been designed so I must carry on in like fashion.

 

... Ron Watson

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All, There are several of these ladder back-sights illustrated in the Catalogue of the Tokugawa Art Museum 'Military Accessories of Daimyo's House' p.86. Two are shown that fit onto those back-sights having only a transverse hole through them rather than the T-slot. Two others appear to have a pair of uprights whose use is less obvious.

Ian Bottomley

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Dear Ian,

That is interesting, ... but I maintain that for the number of matchlocks that were produced ( several hundred thousand ) that there should have been more " survivors ". I also surmise that most matchlocks were never issued with an Elevation Sight even though most Japanese matchlocks have a rear sight that is designed for their use and that fact along with normal loss of the few that were made explains their rarity. It is well known that a smooth bore musket is not accurate much beyond 50 - 70 yards ( 45 - 65 meters ), ... therefore what would be the purpose ? Ian, ... would it be possible or even feasible for you to post a scan or photograph of the picture from page 86 of the catalogue. I for one would be most interested.

 

... Ron Watson

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Borrowed from Sawada San's book.

 

It doesn't indicate whether these were made of brass, or wood, but perhaps wood would be less likely to shine in the sun and give away your position, (apart from the smoke of your match!). It might also explain why they have not survived.

 

In woodblock prints however, they are sometimes painted the same colour/color gold as the brass lock, in contrast the stock/butt, or the white, black or blue for the barrel. So... brass? (See illustrations above and on previous page.)

 

Caption: 50 Monme O-deppo Yagura

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Sorry to come to this late.

 

My take on Eric's post is that it is an important piece of social documentation, like a Senufo dream mask, it really is irrelevant whether it seems practical or not to us.

 

Consider this:

 

If we look at many of the surviving Makimono (Rolled narrative scroll) of Ryuha (Martial Schools), much of the wording and illustrations do not seem to make sense.

 

Seemingly incorrect illustrations and vague descriptions of actions are deliberately placed to keep the secret heart of the Ryu intact.

 

Only those who had made Keppan (Blood oath) and passed through the levels of trust would have access to the secret knowledge that made the scroll (Makimono) legible.

 

Thus if a Makimono fell into unauthorised hands, the secret heart of the Ryu was preserved.

 

Yagyu Tsuba are an example of this secret symbolism.

 

And I'm still going to look for Hamster Ladders........ :badgrin:

 

Cheers

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