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tsuba / katana / habaki / fuchi-kashira / blade / saya / daisho

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Katana (sword blade) and koshirae (mountings). Part of a daisho (matching pair of long and short swords) with 1952, 1028.17.a-e.

    Katana (1952,1028.16.a): blade: made of steel; unsigned. Habaki (collar): single-piece; gilded. Stored in shirasaya (plain wooden sleeping scabbard), inside purple fabric bag.

    Saya (1952,1028.16.b): wooden scabbard lacquered in Wakasa nuri technique.

    (1952,1028.16.c) Hilt: made of wood and ray-skin. Fuchi-kashira: bird and flower motifs in high-relief coloured metal inlay on shibuichi. Menuki: gilt copper dragons.

    (1952,1028.16.d) Tsuba; patinated iron, pierced and roundly carved with battle scenes; details set in gold inlay. Signed.


  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 14thC(early)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 65.2 centimetres (cutting edge)
    • Curvature: 1.8 centimetres (Curvature)
  • Curator's comments

    Harris 2005

    This blade is 'shinogi zukuri', with a medium 'kissaki'. The curve is deep, particularly in the lower part of the blade, and the upper part straightens slightly towards the point. The blade has been shortened at some time, and it can be seen from the position of the rounded ends of the grooves either side of the blade on the re-shaped tang that its original length was about 75-6 cm. The tang has been over-zealously cleaned sometime before the sword came into the collection, and the details cannot clearly be seen.

    The grain of the 'jigane' is 'itame' with extensive 'midare utsuri' throughout the length of the blade. The 'hamon' is of small 'choji' mixed with small compacted 'togariba' and with many small 'ashi' in 'nioi'. The 'boshi' is 'midare komi' with an almost 'omaru' return and some 'haki'.

    Both the shape of the blade and the beautiful appearance of the 'midare utsuri' identify it as work of the Bizen school, probably dating from the closing years of the Kamakura period. It may be attributed to the Yoshioka Ichimonji group, who moved from Fukuoka to Yoshioka in Bizen at the end of the Kamakura period (early fourteenth century). The accompanying single-piece 'habaki' is gilded.

    The 'uchigatana'-style mounting (col. pl. 2) for this sword forms a 'daisho' with the following sword (no. 2). The scabbards of both swords were lacquered in the style popular during the late seventeenth century known as 'Wakasa nuri', after the old province of Wakasa (forming the western part of present-day Fukui Prefecture). This style was achieved by carving an irregular pattern into the base of black lacquer, which was then filled with gold leaf, coloured lacquers and other material such as crushed eggshell; a transparent lacquer layer was then applied overall. The 'fuchi' and 'kashira' have bird and flower motifs in high-relief coloured metal inlay on 'shibuichi', and the 'menuki' are gilt copper dragons.

    The 'tsuba' (col. pl. 3) is of patinated iron pierced and roundly carved with battle scenes, the details set in gold inlay, and is signed 'Hikone ju Nyudo Soten sei' (made by monk Soten, resident of Hikone). According to the book entitled 'Soken kisho' (by Inaba Tsuryu, published in 1796), Kitagawa Soten (also known as 'Kitagawa Shuten') moved from Kyoto to Hikone in Omi Province around 1750. There were several later generations all doing similar work of varying quality, as well as many pupils and imitators. This 'tsuba' dates from the Edo period (eighteenth or nineteenth century).


  • Bibliography

    • Harris 2005 col. pl. 2, pg 50 (daisho koshirae) bibliographic details
    • Harris 2005 col. pl. 3, pg 50 (daisho tsuba) bibliographic details
    • Harris 2005 no. 1, pg 84 (katana blade) bibliographic details
  • Subjects

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Object reference number: JCR6983

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