This antique Japanese shakudo pendant is circa 1880. Shakudo is the use of mixed metals to create a form of art. The use of copper, gold, silver and metal alloys was perfected by the metal workers who decorated the Samurai swords. In 1876 the Emperor Meiji declared a law abolishing the use of swords, which virtually ended the approximately 1000 year, proud, powerful history of the Samurai. The shakudo artisans were now trying to survive economically, and created pieces of jewelry from the dismantled swords. New pieces were also designed to appeal to the Western market. Sadly, the industry came to a halt and an art form that had been perfected through the centuries was ended.
This surviving example has a large turned ivory ball, cut flat at both ends. One side has the inset of shakudo and the other a locket with finely plaited hair. The shakudo is set in a finely twisted frame of gold, and inlaid in the ivory. It features a small bird in a field of flowers, a popular naturalistic scene. The shakudo work is quite finely done and in excellent condition. The "O" ring at the top is a finely detailed gold split ring. The size of the ring enables this to be used with a cord, as shown, or with a gold chain. The pendant is substantial in size, measuring 1 1/2 inches round (without the top ring) X a bold 1 1/8 inches depth.
It is quite rare to find in original, excellent condition. Truly a unique and beautiful collector's piece of jewelry.