Tessen Fighting fan

Late Edo Period (1615 - 1867), 1849

Iron, paper with pigments and bamboo.

Menhari-gata (opening fan), sensu-gata (traditional shape)

Lenght: 30 cm


松井貞壽造 - Matsui Sadatoshi tsukuru

嘉永ニ 六月日 - 6th month of Kaei 2nd (1849)


Edo no Samurai - Gu-tsuzu Collection, Masanobu, 1998, pag. 25 cat. 30

Customarily carried in the hands or tucked in the obi (belt), the folding fan  played a significant role in Japanese etiquette during the Edo period, especially on formal occasions, and was rarely ever out of a samurai's possession. Perhaps because it was considered such an ordinary item, it was easily employed as a suitable side arm with only minor modifications. These weapons, called tessen, literally meaning "iron fan," were constructed of either an actual folding fan with metal ribs or a non-folding solid bar of either iron or wood and shaped like a folded fan. During the Edo Period, the tessen was often considered a common self-defense weapon for improvised situations. There were many circumstances in which a samurai would not have access to his sword. For example, if visiting another person's home, especially one belonging to a superior, a warrior was generally required to leave one or both swords with an attendant at the door. To prevent violence, obvious weapons such as swords, daggers, and spears were also strictly prohibited within the small confines of the pleasure districts such as Yoshiwara in Edo. A tessen, though, was acceptable in any situation, thus leaving the samurai always armed with at least one very effective defensive weapon.

The symbols depicted on both sides of the tessen differ from the usual ones: where normally we find a sun in gold or a silver moon, here we have three kamon, the Japanese family crests, indicating that the tessen was probably made to a specific order by a samurai.

It is quite rare for a tessen to bear a signature. In this case, the name is of a known swordsmith: Sadatoshi, pupil of Suishinshi Masahide and active in the province of Echigo in the mid-nineteenth century.

Tessen  for sale

Inventory Nr: 1654

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