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Superb 19th C. Shakudo Brooch


The art of Shakudo originated in Japan as a decorative technique for armor and for the traditional and formal swords (katana) fittings for the Samurai. The process uses a mixture of cooper and gold (and traces of other metals) which produces indigo and black patina on the surface. Wearing of swords was banned in 1876 by their government, artisans turned to jewelry and to other objects to continue this honorable and idyllic art form. Most often the jewelry seen today is made of various parts of these ornamental yet functional adornments.

Here we have a superb and finely detailed example of a Shakudo brooch. The dioramas typically depicted include flora, fauna and, at times human figures. Some of the items are rather simple in design; others such as this one are remarkably intricate.

This scene incorporates a boat with a pair of Samurai being transported by an oarsman. The central figure wears a traditional elaborate Japanese costume, hair in "chomage" (top of the head shaved with the rest of the hair pulled back and up and worn in a knot) clutching a fan. The seated man holds a long spear and appears to be carefully surveying what lies ahead. The waves of the water indicate a less than calm sea as the boat is driven past the shore punctuated with tiny grasses and plants. In the background atop the rolling hills is a man running towards a large tree with blossoms. All in yellow gold, rose gold and silver over metal. The later pin fitting is 10k yellow gold.

Date: Mid to later 19th century.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Measurements: 1 1/6 inches wide and high (2.7 cm). Weight of 11.5 grams (7.4 dwt).

Hallmarks: 10k on the later pin clasp.

Condition: Excellent; later pin fittings.

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