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Yamato Nanto Ju Fujiwara Kanabo Teppo


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To the casual lurkerby there is nothing much to catch the eye in the title of this thread.

 

Except that the Kanabo school (late Tegai?) were Yamato swordsmiths forging in the So-Shu/Bizen tradition. They were also known for their Naginata and Yari, including Jumonji-Yari, quite famous in their time. They are not recorded as far as I can ascertain for making guns, and I have found *no source so far remarking on any such possibility.

 

And yet, a gun came into my possession recently with this puzzling Mei, Nanto-Ju Fujiwara Shigetsugu, around which my brain has been idly swirling possibilities. Nanto is the old name for Nara. The Fujiwara family find their roots in the ancient capital there. The conclusion could be that in the later Edo period a smith or two of this line tried their hand at making teppo from iron. Since the gun in question is in the Iyo style (NW Shikoku), which area was ruled over at the time by the Uwajima Han Date lords, we must wonder why it was not made in Sakai where their orders were usually placed. Had there been a large order, necessitating manufacturing help from Nara in Yamato? (About 10 Ri, or 40 km away.) Incidentally, most Iyo long guns that I have seen are 'hosozutsu', of narrow bore, but this one is a proper military gun, in that it takes a larger ball. (The upper long gun.)

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In the list of recorded gunsmiths, besides this Nanto-Ju Fujiwara Shigetsugu, there is a 金房政次, Kanabo Masatsugu, but sadly nothing extra is noted, no date, no place.

 

The stock bears a name inside, Miyako Zentsuji Hisazaemon. "Ah, Zentsuji, that fits! It's a famous place in Shikoku!" I thought triumphantly. But no, it seems that there was a group of stockmakers living in Sakai, which I then discovered, making the wooden parts of guns for Shikoku orders, who probably bore the name of their origin from back in Shikoku.

 

*There is a comment about Buddhist priest warriors and blacksmith weapons activity traditionally in the proximity of temples such as Kofukuji in Nara (Nanto) which does mention 'guns'. See attached photo below. Kofukuji is proud of its ancestry going back to Fujiwara Kamatari, 614-669 AD.

There is also a very early mention of the Daimyo Tsutsui Junkei in Tensho 8 (1580) ordering bronze bells throughout Yamato to be melted down for guns. I wonder what kind of guns those were!

https://www.naranet.co.jp/2019/rekisi_11.html

 

Such isolated facts and unformed ideas are still floating around in my cerebrum, so I thought I would create a thread to help set them down, get some input and possibly build a fuller picture. Thanks for reading so far...

 

PS The gun is away at the moment, so I do not have to ability to photograph anything in detail. Just imagine an Iyo gun and you'll be right, mate! :laughing:
 

*See here mention of 興福寺 Kōfukuji, smiths, and two lines from bottom 鉄砲鍛冶 teppōkaji gunsmiths.

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I think you got a lot of amazing ideas ”floating around in your cerebrum” 🙂

The 1580 mentioning of the melting down guns for bells are really interesting. 
Keep digging, my friend!

 

Jan

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8 hours ago, Viper6924 said:

I think you got a lot of amazing ideas ”floating around in your cerebrum” 🙂

The 1580 mentioning of the melting down guns for bells are really interesting. 
Keep digging, my friend!

 

Jan

Jan, if this is historically accurate, they would have to have been bronze cannon or bronze hand guns, don't you think? What happened to them? Did they mostly explode? None survive today I should think. There was known to be a casting workshop in the vicinity of Kōfukuji Temple, originally set up centuries before when workers were brought over from Korea to make the Buddhist statues and bells.
Nara Park used to be part of the grounds of Kōfukuji, I recall reading somewhere.

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Yeah, I found some smiths using the character Shige or Tsugu, but nothing to tie things down directly. The gun by Kanabo Masatsugu mentioned above, for example, sounds interesting but there is no indication of what happened to it.

 

By the same token, we know from the records that Bizen smiths were divided up into four groups/communities towards the end of the Edo Period and tasked with either continuing the sword tradition, making guns, doing both, or making cannon.

 

Regarding 梵鐘 'Bonsho' bells melted down by Tsutsui Junkei in 1580, some background here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonshō

 

This seems to be quoting the original 多聞院日記 Tamon-in Nikki  manuscript regarding the casting of these teppo.

この会ヶ峰村の丘陵地に、筒井順慶が鉄砲の鋳造工場を設け、国中の寺から釣鐘を没収して鉄砲の材料にしたといわれる。『多聞院日記』天正8年(1580)3月17日の条に「ナラ(奈良)中ツリ(釣)鐘従筒井被取了、大門ニモ二ツ在之、今日取了、国中諸寺同前云々、クワイ(会)ヶ峯ニテタタラヲ立、テツハウ(鉄砲)ヲイ(鋳)サスルト云々」とある。また同日3三月18日の条に「郡山城ヲ破テ多聞山ヘ引クト云、クワイ(会)ヶ峯と云、二説ト云々」とあり、これは豊臣秀保の時代に、郡山城を多聞山か会ヶ峰に移そうとしている、という風説があったことを示している。

https://www.city.yamatokoriyama.lg.jp/section/rekisi/src/history_data/h_029.html

 

Note. None of this is directly related to the Iyo teppo first introduced in this thread, but simply to show that there had once been a background of teppo manufacture in that general area.

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Final (?) note. The barrel was blocked and the Bisen was rusted shut. Couldn’t get to the problem from either end. This is the second Iyo long gun I’ve owned having a blocked barrel. At least we know how they ended their working lives.

Although the dealer had told me “Oh, nothing that a little oil won’t fix…” it was not so simple, and needed the attention of specialist equipment, and because there is some zōgan inlay on the breech end of the barrel, heat could not be applied as part of that process.

 

Here is a photo of the contents of the barrel blockage. Washi paper cartridges of gunpowder and small stones. When you don’t have lead for pellets…?

 

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Great work.
Is the powder still viable after all these years? Try some with a match.
I found that a heat gun was my savior, heating the bisen, then oil, then heat, then sudden cooling.
Maybe lucky you didn't use heat Piers? These things have been known to go off after 100 years. ALWAYS point in a safe direction when working on them as Piers will tell you too.

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The old gunsmith I used to use would stand any blocked barrel in a bucket of water for 24 hours, at least that’s what he told me. This time I trial-used a different guy who will be my go-to from now on.

 

This lot smells like blackpowder, Brian. A magnet on it today picked up countless specks of red rust. I expect it will spark and fizzle tomorrow when I set light to (some of) it! Watch this space! :popcorn:

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No joy.

Repeated three times, but in this configuration I could not get a spark out of the stuff, despite the familiar blackpowder smell.

 

Similar-looking stuff to what I found down one of the barrels of an old Chinese/Korean three barreled hand gonne. Probably not very good originally, centuries later now mixed with quantities of rust particles. I might give it another go with a lighter, the jet after-burner type.

 

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Update.

 

With all the cheering in the distance, I tried the turbo lighter on it, and chose the darkest chunk to focus on... and.......ah!

 

Not sure how to upload a video. The flash burn on my thumb is almost imperceptible.

 

PS Not recommended without certain safe-guards in place!

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Ah yes....black powder is dangerous stuff.
And if one thing comes out of this, it is the fact that old matchlocks CAN and often ARE still loaded and can go off after 100+ years.
Oil soak for a long time, down the flash hole and the muzzle, and even then act as though it can go off.
Thanks Piers

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In a loose pile like that the flash can happily disperse everywhere, but packed in a tube the patiently waiting force is seriously concentrated towards one direction.

 

No eyebrows

 

PS Just for interest, here is something that was jammed inside a Satsuma barrel. It’s a strange misshapen thing. Not iron, possibly lead? A Minié-type of round which could have melted as ignited powder escaped around/through it??? Stumped for ideas.

 

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It def got a ”projectile” shape to it. Is that a hole on top? 
You find the strangest of things inside your barrels. I got 10+ matchlocks at home and the only thing I ever found was a piece of blackpowder-covered cloth in one of them 🙂

 

Jan

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