Sunday, 13 September 2015

East, West and gone West

Information please, dates, places of origin, materials and uses


Qing dinasty Chinese tobacco pouch

Spring gun

Chinese carved bamboo and ivory cricket box ~ not for protection but to keep chirping insects in before there were transistor radios to listen to.

Carved coconut-shell box

Boxwood carving of the Chinese god of longevity,  shou-Lao

Chinese carved boxwood figure of Nio holding a jingang (vajra).  
Niō (仁王?) or Kongōrikishi (金剛力士?) are wrath-filled and muscular guardians of the Buddha standing today at the entrance of many Buddhist temples in East Asia in the form of frightening wrestleresque statues. They are  dharmapala manifestations of the bodhisattva Vajrapāṇi, the oldest and most powerful of the Mahayana Buddhist pantheon


A pair of wooden dancing figures, carved by people of the Shan tribe in Burma


  1. (2) A 'spring gun' to use the name of its period. It is an anti poacher trap gun, English, and of the early nineteenth century. I must have had at least a dozen through my hands over the years, and have set and fired them (using Ann's clothes prop to activate the trip wire). This one is built to take three trip wires, and the thing is that the gun is set in a rowlock arrangement in the block of wood support. People will tell you that these are to give the alarm that poachers are about rather than to damage the poachers - this is tosh and a taradiddle. If someone trips over one of the wires the gun swivels and fires directly down the line of the trip wire, and as the barrel is of blunderbuss form it would get anyone who activates the trip wire. Their use saved the authorities the expense of either hanging the miscreants, or sending them to the antipodes for a life sentence. Their use was forebidden (along with man traps) in the Game Act of 1827.

  2. P.s. All the others are of Eastern manufacture, and I will leave them to Roger's encyclopedic knowledge (or his vivid and prolific imagination).

  3. P.P.S Largely, of course, because I don't know - there's an awful lot of 'Eastern'.

  4. Wonderful work Mike, this one was listed as a cemetery-gun used to deter grave-robbers but it is more properly, as you say, a spring-gun and was used for any anti-personnel situation. I understand the term is used in America to mean what we call an air-gun whose air is compressed by a spring.

  5. I thought this would have suited Rog but clearly I made it too easy for him.