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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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tanto / menuki / fuchi-kashira / blade / saya / tsuka

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Tanto (dagger blade) 1958,0730.30.a. Made of steel. Signed and inscribed.

    Saya (short sword scabbard). Part of mounting for tanto. Lacquered black with designs of water-plants in gold maki-e; silver chape in form of lobster; silver protrusion in form of frog on lotus leaf. Made of wood; also metal.

    Tsuka (hilt) 1958,0730.30.c; fuchi-kashira; menuki. Part of mounting for tanto. Hilt: bound with whale's beard; made of wood, skin (ray), metal. Kashira: in form of lobster; made of silver. Fuchi: carp in high-relief shakudo inlay; made of silver. Menuki: carp.


  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1865 (eighth month)
    • 1868-1912 (Saya)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 25.2 centimetres (without tang)
    • Curvature: 0.1 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        tang, obverse
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Bakufu shi Hisayuki tsukuru
      • Inscription Translation

        Hisayuki, in the service of the Bakufu, made this
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        tang, reverse
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Keio gan [nen] ushi doshi hachi gatsu jitsu
      • Inscription Translation

        A day in the eighth month of the ox year, the first year of the Keio era [1865]
  • Curator's comments

    Harris 2005

    This is a 'hira zukuri' blade. The tang has three holes and the file marks are 'kesho' with 'sujigai'. The tang tip is 'ha agari kurijiri'. The grain is 'itame', forming a tight 'masame' towards the cutting edge. The 'hamon' is 'suguha' in small 'nie' with some slight 'hotsure'. The 'boshi' is 'komaru' with a pointed return.

    The smith Fujiwara Hisayuki (or Kawai Hisayuki) was a pupil of Hosokawa Masayoshi together with Minamoto Yoshimune (no. 75). He was active over a long period, as evidenced by dated swords as far apart as the Bunsei era (1818-30) and the second year of the Meiji era (1869).

    The scabbard is lacquered black with designs of water-plants in gold 'makie'. The 'kashira' and the chape of the scabbard are silver in the form of lobsters. The silver 'fuchi' depicts a carp in high-relief 'shakudo' inlay, and the 'menuki' are also carp. The 'kurikara' [sic. 'kurikata'] is in the form of a frog on a lotus leaf in the same metals. The hilt is bound with 'whale's beard'. This mounting dates from the Meiji era.


  • Bibliography

    • Harris 2005 76, B&W pl. 76 bibliographic details
  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


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Object reference number: JCR7393

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