Antique Japanese Shakudo Ring
The end of the great Samurai era took with it not only the military nobility themselves but the revered artisans who crafted all weapons, armor and other necessary accoutrements of those magnificent warriors.
Shakudo, invented by the Japanese, is a metal alloy of copper which contains 3% to 5% of gold. It has a very dark blue color approaching black and traditionally was mostly used for sword fittings and handles. Here a very fine example of a “kashira” (pommel cap covering the tip of the hilt of Japanese swords and daggers) which has been reinvented as a ring.
The iconography is of a small expressive troll or creature resting on a walking stick and wearing his large bamboo kasa or hat. Rendered in copper, gold and silver gilds we see the rich purple black textured patina typical of Japanese mixed metal work. The quality of the work is evident.
Condition: Very good with light wear to the surfaces; some tiny darker areas to the background if viewed in certain light; the original kashira has been made into a ring in modern times with a later rose 14k pale rose gold shank. The reverse has been filled with a rose gold lining and a rim of silver solder is evident in a few areas.
Measurements: 1-1/4 inches (3.2 cm in length by 11/16 of an inch (1.7 cm) in width by 1/4 of an inch (0.7 cm) in depth. It is currently a size US 8-1/2 (UK Q; Euro 18.5, 58 mm) and can be easily sized.
Date: Kashira circa 1880, Edo period. The shank is modern.
Historical note: Shakudo originated for use in Japanese armor and swords. Banned in 1876 by their government, artisans turned to jewelry and to other objects to continue this honorable and idyllic craft. For further reading see "Warman's Jewelry" by Christie Romero.