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Tanegashima Matchlock Rifle

Unknown Artist
"Tanegashima" Matchlock Rifle with Case, 1600-1650
Metal, Wood
Gift of Arthur E. Klauser 45'

The “Tanegashima” Matchlock Rifle and Case is decorated with traditional Japanese symbols. Thin sheets of metal stamped with cherry blossom designs and a lion embellish the butt-end of the rifle. Cherry blossoms are Japan’s national flower and represent the impermanence of life. Nature and weapons of destruction are often depicted in opposition to one another. Here, the artist combines both, thoughtfully communicating the prowess and precision of the rifle with the tiger. Cherry blossoms quietly acknowledge the fleetingness of precious lives at the fate of this rifle.

Questions for the viewer(s):
How might our perception of this object differ within an American cultural context? Does the message of the artwork change?