What just happened?

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.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


Collection online

Additional options
Production date to

Or search by


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

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Katana (long sword blade) 1958,0730.143.a. Made of steel. Signed and inscribed. Stored in wooden storage sheath, inside purple fabric bag.

    Saya (scabbard) 1958,0730.143.b. Part of mounting for katana. Made of plain black-polished wood; also gilded copper.

    Tsuka (hilt) 1958,0730.143.c. Part of mounting for katana. Hilt: made of wood, ray skin, metal, braided textile. Menuki: helmets, naginata sword, bows and arrows. Fuchi-kashira: scenes from adventures of Minamoto no Yoshitsune. Signed.

    Tsuba 1958,0730.143.d. Stylized chrysanthemum blossom, pierced with gold-inlaid Buddhist horin (wheel of the law) and with tomoe (comma-shaped) motif. Made of shakudo; also copper.


  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 17thC
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 68.6 centimetres (cutting edge)
    • Curvature: 1.5 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        tang, obvesre
      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Yokoyama Kozuke daijo Fujiwara Sukesada
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        tang, reverse
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Bishu Osafune junin
      • Inscription Translation

        Resident of Osafune village, Bizen Province
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Comment

  • Curator's comments

    Harris 2005

    This blade is 'shinogi zukuri' and of Kambun-era (1661-73) 'shinto' shape. The unmodified tang has one hole and the file markings are 'kiri'. The tang tip is 'kurijiri'. The grain is a well-ordered and prominent 'itame'. The 'hamon' is open 'gunome' mixed with 'togariba', with a tight 'nioiguchi' predominantly in 'nioi'. The 'boshi' is a straight 'komaru'.

    Yokoyama was the family name of several generations of smiths working in the village of Osafune in Bizen Province during the Edo period from around the third decade of the seventeenth century. They signed with a number of titles including the 'Kozuke daijo' of this sword and 'Kawachi no kami' (no. 47). This sword has a large 'choji hamon' in 'nioi' in traditional Bizen style and a clear finegrained body, although sometimes a form of 'utsuri' is found on the work of the group.

    The classic 'uchigatana' mounting has a plain black-polished scabbard as required for formal wear in Edo. The 'fuchi' and 'kashira' bear scenes from the adventures of Minamoto no Yoshitsune, and the 'menuki' represent helmets, 'naginata', and bows and arrows indicating the Gempei wars of the twelfth century. The 'tsuba' (col. pl. 15) is of deep black 'shakudo' in the form of a stylized chrysanthemum blossom, pierced with a gold-inlaid Buddhist 'horin' (wheel of the law) and with a 'tomoe' motif.


  • Bibliography

    • Edo BM 1982 143 bibliographic details
    • Harris 2005 46, B&W pl. 46 bibliographic details
  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated events

    • Associated Event: Gempei wars
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


Group image of two swords and a dagger.

Group of Objects

Group image of two swords and a dagger.

Image description



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: JCR7729

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help