Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Buraimi Oman, on the border with the UAE
Comparison between the Japanese Museum and Popham artwork.
Salaams All. The thread moves apace and new detail continues to squeeze out of this conundrum.. The Kastane, its history and the variable hilt styles commonly referred to as Lion or Makara hilt.
Great care is advised in focussing upon the correct time frame as little may be gleaned in examining the Dutch or English period in this respect. The weapon clearly tumbled through drastic changes and even became a badge of rank marker reportedly in about 1804.
To examine its potential origins, if the supposition is right about the Portuguese joint design, the earlier period is vastly more significant..thus any weapons or drawings of such examples from that time should perhaps be fully scrutinized.
Therefor, I have chosen the Popham Kastane and The Japanese Museum Kastane for comparison since they are the two known extant examples and whereas the other noted pieces are perhaps wrongly placed in the timeline of this weapon for now they may be set aside until a more positive proof is made of their accuracy in dating.
Forum is advised that though these are early examples that one is artwork and the other is a sword of as yet "uncertain provenance" and that it has been moved in and out of Japanese official ownership several times (private collection/museum) thus placing some doubt as to its authenticity.
I hope to show that the weapon was not only presented "as is"... to Hasekura Tsunenaga but that the owner and his stamp can be named even though the pictures at thread are a little grainy...
It may be known that the sword was presented on behalf of the King of Spain(actually according to Gustavs #187
Quote "Sasaki Kazuhiro has the oppinion, both keris and kastane are presented to Hasekura Tsunenaga by Philip III.) whilst the Japanese delegation was in the Philippines prior to their final return leg of their journey to Japan".Unquote.
See below the blade stamp and the coat of arms of the Japanese ambassador...(Hasekura Tsunenaga) Originally he was Buddhist but converted to Christianity during his trip...and before arriving at the Philippines. This was no mean feat since Christians in Japan were being persecuted at the time...Also shown below are the blade stamps/engravings. It may be noted also that silver and gold and presumably exotic and rich weapons etc were forbidden to be imported to Japan thus if the sword could be presented to an individual rather than a country it perhaps skirted around that order?
Thus I suggest that the blade mark belongs to Hasekura Tsunenaga and was altered before being struck onto his sword.. and therefor the Museum weapon was actually presented and is real, genuine and actual for that timescale.
There is a powerful lobby to indicate Chinese blade provenance and that is well received, however, it is my view that the blade having been presented from the Spanish Royal Household at embassy level that it must have been a genuine piece of steel and more likely to be Spanish than anything else...It is certainly not a Kastane blade... and has the deep multiple grooves of the Spanish blade (see below)...and the shape, apparent balance and visual feel of "The Storta". Readers may be quick to realise that since the Popham is art... I cannot anyway compare blades. My point is that the time line is accurate on this style of hilt; The Lionhead style. I show for ease of viewing the Lionhead type below.
The Popham is intriguing but illustrates a remarkable fact... That at the same time as the Japanese weapon another was being carried on the armour shown. This is not any old armour but the highly respected and very elaborate private armour of a VIP; not an artists prop thus the Kastane must have been an original ...but vitally in the same time period as the Japanese variant. The hilt can perhaps be seen to be serpent/ makara/ gargoyle in fashion and with accompanying deities quite unlike the very recognizable Lion type.
It is thus respectfully proposed that possibly...two different hilts were in fashion; Lion and Makara and at the same time ... early in proceedings thus perhaps it may be possible to accommodate both designs exuding even from the same Royal Workshops or different schools of designers favouring one style or the other or a specific style being commissioned by different clients. It is envisaged that an artisans workshop working in such materials would have various designs and drawings and could offer clients a number of fine embelishments.
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
Notes and attachments;
For interest I illustrate below;
1. A Karava flag with Makara design.
2. A triple picture showing the original style swastika Buddhist design on the Hasekura Tsunenaga coat of arms..and Ships pennant.. to compare with the blade stamp/ engraving on the Japanese Museum blade.
3. A Malaya/Javanese hilt with Makara design.
4. The Popham Armour picture.
5. Hasekura Tsunenaga with ship detail...and in a sketch with his coat of Arms..easily seen with a crossed arrow form which would perhaps be simple to make into the letter N..and inscribe above it a cross...
6. Various other examples for ease of viewing..
7. The lions head design on the Japanese variant.
8. The more Lizardly, Serpent like, Gargoyle or Makara on a blue background of the Popham Armour type.
9. The Japanese Museum Blade from the work by Gustav on this thread #187.
10. Old "Taprobana" Sri Lanka Map... From the Ptolomy.