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Gunpowder-flask for primer (Koyaku-ire)

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  • Gunpowder-flask for primer (Koyaku-ire)

    Of all the paraphernalia connected to this area of interest, the powderflask holds a special place in my heart.
    There are countless sizes and shapes. All with a specific use in mind for the artisan making it. Some can be very simple whilst others are of the highest quality used by top ranking samurai.
    You find two basic models. The bigger flask meant for the main load poured down the barrel together with a lead ball (Kayaku-ire). This type of flask will be adressed in a seperate thread.
    In this thread we will focus on the Kayaku-ire smaller brother.

    The standard Koyaku ire is usually between 5-12 cm high (cap included) and made from wood. Most of them are covered in lacquer (urushi) in order to protect the flask from the elements.
    Within these group of primer-flasks two different area of use can be detected.
    The smaller models ranging from 5-7 cm were mostly used by hunters or by people involved with target shooting. These are often of a more basic design. Carved out of a piece of wood or adapted from other materials found in nature.
    Flasks over 7 cm tends to be more eleborate and covered in lacquer. Some has been covered in leather before being lacquered. These were more often than not used by militarie outfits. Which is why some of them comes decorated with a kamon on both sides.
    Attached to this post is an example of both types of primer-flasks.
    On the left side is a 11 cm high Koyaku-ire. It's covered in black leather and sporting the famous kamon of the Sanada-clan. Most likely used by a high-ranking member of the family or a close retainer. Judging by the patina probably made during the first half of the Edo-period.
    The one to the right is about 6 cm. Much more basic but still very beautifully made. The elongated cap with its curved design was probably meant to simplify handling during reloads.
    More examples of these primer-flasks will be posted in the future.
    If you have any primer-flasks in your collection, please share them here, so we can discover their diversity and beauty.

    Jan
    Last edited by Jan Pettersson; 09-23-2017, 02:51 PM.
    Jan - Sweden

  • #2
    My next field of collecting..

    Comment


    • #3
      It's a very interesting field to study and collect, Steve. In the future you will be able to see some different styles displayed on this thread. It will act like a reference bank of sorts. A good way to be familiar with this type of artifact and hopefully prevent people buying fakes.
      So stay tuned, Steve

      Jan
      Jan - Sweden

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      • Stevei
        Stevei commented
        Editing a comment
        I have seen quite a few described as " home made " ! I will follow your guidance..

    • #4
      Finding all this fascinating ... learning the monme size. .. hayago ... ozutsu. Tanzuttsu ... loving it ..

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      • #5
        I guess most of these powder flask can be labeled as "home-made". But the trick is to spot which one was made in someones home during the era of the samurai and which one was made in a shed on Shikoku last week
        I'm sure Piers can weigh in on this subject.
        One thing you see on modern flasks is that the only moveable part is the cap. On most genuine flasks, at least with the smaller Koyaku-ire, there are several compartments. This of course to facilitate the process of putting gunpowder in the flask. Otherwise quite impossible to do via the sometimes minute spouts, even if I've heard rumors of somekind of special funnel. But so far this is just a rumor like the one about the unicorn
        You can see an example of this construction on the attached picture. That simple feature alone seperates most "fakes" from the real deal.

        Jan
        Jan - Sweden

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        • #6
          I like this

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          • #7
            And especially this!

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            • #8
              A Doran (leather-bag) is a must in every matchlock collection. The trick is to wait for a really good one to surface. But you will probably need to spend around JPY30-40000:- for it.
              The Teppo Bukero from the last post is really nice and really rare. I've only seen one other. Interestingly enough they have the same collection kamon on the outside.
              These hard gun-covers were most likely used during the Sankin-kotai and by a high-ranking retainer to the lord.
              Great stuff!!!

              Jan
              Jan - Sweden

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              • #9
                Just got this off of a fellow in Hiroshima on ebay I know nothing about this area of collecting at all, the shape kind of reminded me of a wasp tail.
                Dave Jackson
                B.C. Canada

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                • #10
                  Hi Dave, an interesting shape and reminiscent of a black wasp's tail as you say. The sections remind one of an Inro, so this corrugation is often described as 'Inro-kizami' or 'Inro-cut'.
                  Yours is a 火薬入れ Kayaku-ire, a flask for the coarse gunpowder, not the remit of this thread which is for 口薬入れ Koyaku-ire the smaller priming powder flasks. (Actually other objects have been added too, so the thread has kind of lost steam!!!) On the other hand you will need both types of flask for firing your Tanegashima, so all is not lost. Now you have to find one of the smaller flasks!
                  The cap would have been a measure, perhaps 5 grams of black powder at a time.
                  The Netsuke has probably been added later.
                  Piers D - Japan / UK

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                  • Nihontonut
                    Nihontonut commented
                    Editing a comment
                    thanks for the info all I need now is a tanegashima, just want a simple plain one but they are impossible to find here.

                • #11

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                  • Malcolm
                    Malcolm commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Hi Laurent, Kamon 2nd from left Sokage Mitsu Gashiwa 3rd from left Maru ni Mitsubiki 4th from left Maru ni Itsutsuwari Migi Manji (This last one is done crudely, so I am guessing) Piers???

                • #12
                  Different sizes /examples I have... Interesting topic to developp Jan
                  ​​​​​​.
                  Laurent

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                  • #13
                    Nice little collection you have there, Laurent! It’s actually quite rewarding these small flasks. A type of collection that don’t demand a huge storage space.
                    I also like Dave’s Kayaku-ire. It got a nice flow to it.
                    Lately it’s becoming a bit harder to find interesting and genuine powder flasks. But it’s all in the hunt, I guess

                    Jan
                    Jan - Sweden

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      Yes I agree Jan no need too much space storage and that s very good, and of course the price different than kabuto and armor. And interesting hunt in the jungle fakes from China and other.. One of my first interest In the past.. I join few others photos..
                      ​​​Interesting subject I like different view of Japanese art..😊
                      .
                      Laurent
                      Last edited by gui; 11-04-2018, 09:56 AM.

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                      • Malcolm
                        Malcolm commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Hi Laurent, Kamon on top right is Hidari Mitsu Tomoe. Lower right is Sumitate Kutsuwa.

                    • #15
                      For anyone reading this thread, a word of warning! Laurent mentioned 'fakes' above.

                      Because these flasks, both the large Kayaku-ire and even more so the smaller Koyaku-ire can fetch high prices, there is a market in fakes, many even made in Japan I would guess. I saw two today in the bottom of a box, made with two bowls fused together and two rings placed at 10:10 (1:50?). There was a fairly narrow spout, and no obvious way to fill them with gunpowder.

                      There is a good book called the Ogawa Collection which has many examples of how they looked back in the day. I would advise people to get a strong feeling for the genuine article before buying.
                      Last edited by Teppotai; 11-21-2019, 05:33 AM.
                      Piers D - Japan / UK

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