Hayago (早合)

A hayago is a pouch for gun powder and bullet which was used to simplify the loading process for muzzle loaders (guns where bullets were loaded from the muzzle) such as matchlock and other guns, presumably from the latter part of the Sengoku period (period of Warring States) or from the Azuchi Momoyama period.

A hayago is cylinder shaped, made of wood, bamboo, leather or paper strengthened by lacquer and made into that shape, and holds the bullet and gun powder. A hayago contains the bullet at the bottom with the gun powder on top of it. The top of the cylinder is smaller than the diameter of the ball and is closed with cotton wrapped in leather, a wooden stopper or a lid.

When loading, the lid or the stopper of a hayago is removed, gun powder and the bullet are loaded from the muzzle of a gun held vertically, then they are further pushed into the gun chamber using a rod. A veteran user would require 18 to 20 seconds from firing to being ready for the next shot.

Hayagos were carried with guns either in pouches called doran or by stringing them on ropes and hanging the ropes from a shoulder across the chest.

In the West, 'paper cartridges,' which were similar to hayagos, were used since around 1550, twenty years before the first use of a hayago in Japan. But there is no conclusive view as to whether the hayago originated in paper cartridges or was invented quite separately.

Paper cartridges consisted of gun powder and a bullet wrapped like a sausage, and like hayago, the side without the bullet was bitten off, the gun powder was inserted from the muzzle, then the bullet and the rest of the paper were pushed in after it with a rammer or a ramrod.

During the matchlock gun era in the West, the user of the gun would hang a number of wooden hayagos joined together in a socket and spigot style with two fine ropes from a belt, which was hung across his chest. Once flintlock guns began to be used, paper cartridges wrapping gun powder and a bullet like sausages were carried in a pouch, and this continued until the percussion era in the mid 19th century.

In Kavkaz, there is a men's national costume designed with a number of pencil-like objects, which are wooden cartridges, lined along the chest.

[Original Japanese]