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

Searching...

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

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1958,0730.138.a-d

  • Description

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

    Saya (scabbard) 1958,0730.138.b. Part of hosodachi (narrow tachi) mounting for katana. Lacquered with nashiji (lacquer now breaking away); lightly gilded copper or copper alloy fittings, decorated with engraved scrolling. Made of wood.

    Tsuka (hilt)1958,0730.138.c. Part of hosodachi (narrow tachi) mounting for katana. Hilt: seven irregularly applied tawara byo (rice-bale shape pin); made of wood, skin (ray), gilded copper. Fuchi-kashira: lightly gilded copper or copper alloy, decorated with engraved scrolling. Menuki: crest (mon) of omodaka (water plant with three-petalled flowers); made of solid gold.

    Tsuba (sword guard) Weight-shaped. 1958,0730.138.d. Part of hosodachi (narrow tachi) mounting for katana. Made of gilded copper.

    More 

  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1832 (eighth month)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 63.2 centimetres (cutting edge)
    • Curvature: 1.9 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        signature
      • Inscription Position

        tang, obverse
      • Inscription Language

        Japanese
      • Inscription Content

        勢州桑名住固山宗次為樋口保邦造之
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Seishu Kuwana ju Koyama Munetsugu Higuchi Yasukuni [no] tame kore [o] tsukuru
      • Inscription Translation

        Koyama Munetsugu, resident of Kuwana, Ise Province, made this for Higuchi Yasukuni
      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        tang, reverse
      • Inscription Language

        Japanese
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Tempo san nen hachi gatsu jitsu
      • Inscription Translation

        A day in the eighth month in the third year of the Tempo era [1832]
  • Curator's comments

    Harris 2005

    This slender blade is 'shinogi zukuri', with a deep curve, and has a medium 'kissaki'. 'Bohi' on both sides of the blade extend through to the end of the tang. The unmodified tang has two holes and the file marks are 'kesho' with 'sujigai'. The tang tip is 'iriyamagata'. The grain is a fine, closely packed 'koitame'. The 'hamon' is 'gunome choji' with 'ashi' in 'nioi' and a tight 'nioiguchi'. The 'boshi' is pointed 'komaru' on the 'omote' and 'komaru' with 'nijuba' on the 'ura'.

    Koyama Munetsugu was born in the castle town of Shirakawa in Mutsu Province and was retained by the lord Matsudaira Sadanobu (Rakuo). In 1830 he moved to Kuwana in Ise Province, and a year or two later to Edo, where he lived as a retainer of the ruling clan of Ise. It is believed that Kato Tsunahide schooled him during his time in Edo. Munetsugu is known to have been friendly with the sword tester Yamada Asaemon, and a number of his blades have 'tameshi-giri' (test cut) results recorded on their tangs by Yamada. In 1845 he obtained the title 'Bizen no suke'. After the Meiji Restoration he worked in Tokyo as a gunsmith, and then at the age of seventy made a sword that was exhibited at the first National Exposition, held in Tokyo in 1872. Like other smiths of his time he sometimes worked in the Soshu style, but he is best known for his Bizen-style 'choji hamon' in 'nioi' and fine close 'mokume' grain.

    The 'hosodachi'-type 'tachi' was used on formal occasions in place of the earlier 'kazari tachi', or 'decorative long sword'. The scabbard is lacquered with' 'nashiji',
    but the ground preparation was insubstantial, presumably to save expense, and the lacquer is now breaking away. The metal fittings are of lightly gilded copper or copper alloy, decorated with engraved scrolling. The hilt has seven irregularly applied 'tawara byo', a formal requirement for such a mounting. Although the work is generally very poor, the 'menuki' are solid gold, bearing 'mon' of 'omodaka' (a water plant with three-petalled flowers). It is thus probable that the mounting was hurriedly commissioned for a special event, and that the 'menuki' were 'borrowed' from another mounting.

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Harris 2005 69, B&W pl. 69 bibliographic details
  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1958

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1958,0730.138.a-d

There is no image of this object, or there may be copyright restrictions

Image service:

Request new photography

Recommend


Feedback

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: JCR7711

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 

Supporters

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

More about supporters and how you
can help  

Loading...