Matchlock Gun from Japan

Step 6 of 7

The mysterious inscription: Korea

Detail of the inscription Joseon - Matchlock Gun of Horio Yoshiharu - The Metropolitan Museum of Art - 14.100.101 -8.jpg

The gun also presents an inscription which is harder to decipher: close to the muzzle the characters for Joseon 朝鮮 are inscripted, the name of the dynasty ruling over the Korean peninsula at the time the gun was made.

Indeed, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the Korean peninsula are strongly connected, since Toyotomi Hideyoshi had actually led two attempts at invading Korea between 1592 and 1598. However, Horio Yoshiharu did not take part in the Korean campaigns. It is also to note that the characters appear different from those of the other inscriptions, as they are smaller and thinner: this hints at the fact that they were not inscribed at the same time.

For these reasons, this inscription presents a bit of an enigma. One of the hypotheses is that the gun was used during one of the Korean campaigns and that the inscription dated to this time, after which it was subsequently brought back to Japan and later gifted to Horio Yoshiharu.