Matchlock Gun from Japan

Step 4 of 7

From the hands of Toyotomi Hideyoshi...

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Almost no space on the barrel of this matchlock gun is left undecorated. In addition to the dragon and the clouds motif, many inscriptions are also present which tell a fascinating story.

Firstly, one of these inscriptions names none other than the second unifier of Japan, the warrior Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who is indicated by his title of Kampaku Taiko (関白 太閤) accompanied by the term hairyō 拝領. Kampaku Taiko was the title used to describe him after he took up the role of retired Imperial Regent in 1592, while hairyō indicated him as the betstower of the gift. In fact, the gun itself was to be a gift, and a dedication to the person who was to receive this gun can also be found as an inscription. It reads:

May you live as long as Southern Mountain and your wealth as vast as the Eastern Sea (壽比南山富如東海)

This is a traditional Chinese blessing. It essentially means: "May you live long and prosper"- a very appropriate wish for the future owner of such a weapon!_