Japanese Tanegashima Matchlock Musket 18th/19th C


Out of stock

SKU: EM1975 Categories: , ,


Featuring 38″ octagonal barrel of approximately .44 caliber with cannon muzzle; front blade
sight and thick rear notch sight. Brass snap matchlock with external spring and brass
serpentine cock, grooved to hold the slow match. Iron flash pan with hinged brass pan
cover and barrel shield. Figured hardwood full stock with barrel pins decorated with brass
cherry blossoms; additional brass cherry blossoms decorating the underside and reverse of
butt stock. There is a diagonal brass tube in the stock behind the breech to hold the tail
end of the slow match. No ramrod. Good condition; the barrel with pitting and dark rust
patina; stock with minor damage to butt and a few shallow dents; lock plate with mottled
patina and missing two lockplate screws/rivets. Overall length 49″.

This type of gun was often referred to as Tanegashima, after the island where a Chinese
junk with Portuguese adventurers on board was driven to anchor by a storm in 1543. The
local lord purchased two matchlocks from the Portuguese, and then had his swordsmith
copy the weapon. Making some parts proved problematic, so a Portuguese blacksmith was
brought over to assist and the guns were completed successfully. These were also often
called “hinawaju”, meaning “matchlock gun”. They were used by the samurai class and
their foot soldiers (ashigaru). Though slow to load and fire, within a few years the
introduction of the Tanegashima in battle changed the way war was fought in Japan
forever. Subsequently, Japan returned to being essentially a closed society, essentially
blocking contact with the outside world. Due to this, the use of the Tanegashima continued
until the 1870s and early 1880s. With the coming of the MEIJI era in 1868, this saw the
beginning of the modernization of Japan. However the old Shogun War Lords, wishing to
maintain the old ways, rebelled in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1878.