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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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tsuba / menuki / katana / fuchi-kashira / blade / saya / tsuka

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Katana (long sword blade) 1958,0730.148.a. Made of steel. Signed. Stored in wooden storage sheath, inside purple fabric bag.

    Saya (scabbard) 1958,0730.148.b. Part of mounting for katana. Lacquered black with stone appearance ground; iron metal fittings carved as chrysanthemums. Made of wood.

    Tsuka (hilt) 1958,0730.148.c. Part of mounting for katana. Hilt: made of wood, ray skin, braided textile, metal. Fuchi-kashira: plain nanako surface; made of copper alloy. Menuki: one remaining; wild boars; made of gilt copper.

    Tsuba (sword guard) 1958,0730.148.d. Part of mounting for katana. Dragon among clouds in high relief with some gold inlay with textile appearance. Made of iron.


  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1860 (eighth month)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 63.2 centimetres (cutting edge)
    • Curvature: 2 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        tang, obverse
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Mimasaka Katsuyama shin Yoshinori
      • Inscription Translation

        Yoshinori, a retainer in Katsuyama, Mimasaka Province
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        tang, reverse
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Man'en gan[nen] saru [doshi] hachi gatsu jitsu
      • Inscription Translation

        A day in the eighth month of the monkey year, the first year of the Man'en era [1860]
  • Curator's comments

    Harris 2005

    The blade is 'shinogi zukuri'. The tang has 'kiri' file marks and one hole. The tang tip is 'kurijiri'. The grain is closely packed 'itame'. The 'hamon' is 'togariba' style 'gunome' close to 'sambon sugi', with a tight 'nioiguchi'. The crests of the 'gunome' have a hard appearance. The 'boshi' is 'komaru'. The Katsuyama, Mimasaka Province, of the inscription refers to present-day Katsuyama town in Maniwa ward, Okayama Prefecture.

    The scabbard is lacquered black with an 'ishime' effect, and with iron metal fittings carved as chrysanthemums. The 'fuchi' and 'kashira' are of a copper alloy with a plain 'nanako' surface. There is only one remaining 'menuki' of gilt copper depicting wild boars. The 'tsuba' is iron, representing a dragon among clouds in high relief with some gold 'nunome zogan' inlay in the style of the late Jingo school of Higo Province.


  • Bibliography

    • Harris 2005 82, B&W pl. 82 bibliographic details
  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


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Object reference number: JCR7749

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