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Karasu-guchi 烏口 (crow mouth/beak) ball holders

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  • Karasu-guchi 烏口 (crow mouth/beak) ball holders

    Bag 'n beak for carrying and dispensing lead musket ball.

    The bag holds the balls; the musketeer tips a new ball up the throat and out to the tip of the beak, ready for insertion into the gun muzzle. The beak usually has a natural spring to it, slowing and stopping the ball from falling out of the end. Easy to pluck with the fingers, however. (Reminds me of traditional cormorant fishing where the fisherman forces the fish out of the cormorant's neck.)

    These do come up occasionally, but you need the patience of Job to find one.

    In the meantime be satisfied with even a simple 玉入 Tama-ire' (or 玉袋 Tama-bukuro) = ball container(bag), identifiable by having a slit down one side of the neck. Without the slit for inserting and extracting ball, what you have is probably a purse or seal holder, etc.

    If any members possess either a simple bag, or a hard-shell ball container (Anthony) or a bag 'n beak, please feel free to post here. I have some ordinary ball bags and two or three Karasu-guchi, but they need a photography session first. Ogawa Tadafumi San from Choshu has several examples in the book of his collection, but for some reason I cannot find a Karasu-guchi in there.
    Piers D - Japan / UK

  • #2
    Been a while since I posted a photo here. Let’s see how this goes.
    Tama-iré ball bags. Some real, 718FEED5-D2D0-4602-B18E-E6355317773F.jpeg and some in Ogawa’s book. Some slits visible:
    Piers D - Japan / UK

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    • #3
      Hmmm... how did that happen?
      Next, a double-ended snake ball bag:

      FEA854AF-4AF8-4F15-917F-66CAB03A2A5B.jpeg
      Piers D - Japan / UK

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      • #4
        Getting better.
        Last shot, four Karasu-guchi style beaked dispensers.

        EB8A287A-EF37-4733-B35C-74BD789D5F59.jpeg
        Piers D - Japan / UK

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        • #5
          A nice little collection. The one on the right side of the last picture looks amazing. Me likes a lot.
          I have a few of these too, but I need to wait for daylight in order to take some proper pictures.
          The beaked version are really amazing. The artisan must have known the exact caliber of the ball, as they only fit one size. Too big, and the ball falls out. Too small and the ball gets stuck. Truely a precision job.

          Jan
          Jan - Sweden

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          • #6
            Actually found some pictures on my phone, so here we go! Three version of the same construction.
            The first one is my favorite as it sports a kyuo-mon on it. It also got the caliber written on the back (3.5 Monme) which is a military grade caliber. So this was def a property of a samurai.
            The two others were probably used by hunters as the caliber is quite small (2 Monme).

            Jan


            Jan - Sweden

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            • #7
              Lovely examples, Jan. Many thanks. You are right about the measurements, and written information is a bonus. Many of these karasu-guchi we find today do seem to be for small bore guns.

              Yesterday I did a series of experiments to work out ball size for the one you mentioned above. Too large and the ball does not move freely, too small and it falls out as you say.

              I placed a series of different-sized lead musket balls in the beak and found the best combination to be a ball weight of around 17 grams (Kitchen scales, very inaccurate) 1.38 cm in diameter (accurate), best for a 4.3 Monme gun, (although it could fit larger ball under more tension). Too large for a hunter, methinks, unless tracking some large target! A Bushi owner with an artistic bent?
              Last edited by Teppotai; 11-22-2018, 03:19 AM.
              Piers D - Japan / UK

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              • #8
                Teppotai Science Lab.
                Experiment 1

                EDB0F08C-0F2B-4C0E-A061-5B3E1EA6D7E6.jpeg41613A8D-9E2E-4925-A1F2-C214B180AD52.jpegC080BEAA-6C14-4AD3-8A6B-7928BCDB086A.jpeg
                Piers D - Japan / UK

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                • #9
                  This is without a doubt the finest ”beak” I’ve seen so far. And the caliber is really interesting. Def Bushi property.
                  Good stuff

                  Jan
                  Jan - Sweden

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                  • #10
                    Hi Guys, can you show a frontal view of the carving of the face please.

                    It looks very much like an Indonesian Batak Musket ball holder:

                    http://tribalmania.com/BATAKMUSKETBALLHOLDER.htm
                    Last edited by Malcolm; 11-22-2018, 08:50 AM.
                    Pip Pip Cheerio

                    Malcolm

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                    • #11
                      Good find, Malcolm. My impression is more of a south sea islander, as the Netsuke world might describe him/her, with a large topknot. Shades of Okinawa, or Tanegashima even? I will see if I can get a photo for you. This was in the collection of a famous museum curator here in Japan. I made him an offer he could not refuse...
                      Last edited by Teppotai; 11-22-2018, 02:12 PM.
                      Piers D - Japan / UK

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                      • #12
                        Right, done.



                        1416B278-FB3F-49C4-8598-3AFE2696F793.jpeg


                        Attached Files
                        Piers D - Japan / UK

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                        • #13
                          No idea what “attached file” means or how to change it!
                          Piers D - Japan / UK

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                          • #14
                            Thank you Piers.,

                            I think you are bang on in the area of the Island chain from Indonesia up to Okinawa.

                            Elegant thing, nonetheless..........Bit like you
                            Pip Pip Cheerio

                            Malcolm

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                            • #15
                              I think also indonesian Sumatra Malcolm
                              Nice item not a thing we see curently
                              ​​​​​​.
                              Laurent
                              Attached Files

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