Jewel of the day: Japanese menuki pendant

One of the reasons jewellery intrigues me is that as well as being an adornment, it was often an artistic outlet that brought together various disciplines. In this Japanese pendant, which I believe is bronze, small gold pieces have been applied to tell a story. The pendant is actually a small flask, with a tiny screw off top, attached to a long 14k yellow gold chain.

The gold designs look to me to be menuki, which were traditionally used on samurai warriors’ swords as ornamentation on the grips. Often, menuki were made with a technique called shakudo, which mixed gold and bronze, writ large on this piece with its gold and bronze mix. (I wrote about a shakudo menuki bracelet here.)

This flask was soldered together, a front and a back piece. I am guessing it was made using the skills of the menuki makers whose talents were left seeking other outlets when the samurai class was abolished in the 19th century and they began to make menuki for purely ornamental purposes.

Japanese pendant 1

Japanese pendant 2


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