Carved out of copper alloy with details highlighted in gold.
38 x 23 x 13 mm
Copper, brass, silver
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The Island of Hirado was conveniently located just off the coast of Kyushu and was a lively hub of trade. Apart from Portuguese, Dutch, and British traders, the island was a known base of the powerful 17th-century pirate who turned Ming general; Zheng Chenggong, a.k.a. Koxinga. It also served as a forward base from which Hideyoshi launched the Japanese invasions of Korea of 1592–1598.
Kunishige was the only sword fittings maker on the island of Hirado, and his styles naturally found inspiration from the international environment he was in. They frequently show a mix of Chinese and European design elements. It is unknown how many generations there were, and it may have been a brand name rather than a single person. They were mainly active in the early 18th century, and made primarily tsuba (guards) and fuchi kashira (sets of ferrule and pommel).
For more information, see my glossary article: Hirado Kunishige
Presented here is a finely made fuchi of copper alloy. It is carved with a classic Kunishige design with a dragon chasing the sacred jewel. On the other side, there is a lucky coin with ribbons. Some small details are tastefully finished in different metals like copper, silver, and gold.
Signed by the maker.
"Kunishige, resident of Hirado"
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Of pierced iron, elaborately cut with lotus petal border.
Unusual tsuba with foreign figures and Chinese auspicious symbols.
Pierced and chiseled showing an 18th century European vessel.
Very finely carved with designs reminiscent of export wares.
With the swirling arabesque motifs that are typical for this period.