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An imported-iron signal fan (gunbai)
Edo period (17th century)
Of russet iron in the shape of a round fan (uchiwa), engraved on one face with a symmetrical array of leafy plants with applied hoshi umebachi mon, and on the other a further symmetry of stylized clouds. With a beautiful chocolate patina.
Gunbai measurements: 14.5″ (36.8 cm) long and 8.9 (22.7 cm) wide. Approximate weight 819 grams.
The accompanying silk bag in a paulownia box indicates that the fan was made from Nanban tetsu (imported iron), and states to be made by Tosa [no] kami Nishizaka Tenzen. There is not a visible signature with our inspection.
Tag on right side of lid:
“Fan-shaped shield [made from] imported steel”
Tag on top left of lid:
Meihin: Nanban-tetsu uchiwa-date
Description: Fan-shaped shield [made from] imported steel
Category: War fans
Inscription on cloth:
Nanban-tetsu o motte kore o tsukuru
Mamoru uchiwa shōsha
mina motomeru tate nari.
Tosa no Kami
“Fan made from imported iron so that it can also be used as a shield for protection, thus much sought after for those who want to win. – Tosa no Kami, Nishizaka Tenzen”
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