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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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wakizashi / tsuba / blade / saya / tsuka

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    OA+.3807.a

  • Description

    Wakizashi (short sword blade) OA+.3807.a. Made of steel. Signed.

    Saya (scabbard) OA+.3807.b. Part of mounting for wakizashi. Roundels of dragons in gold makie; metal fittings made of shibuichi carved and lightly gilded with clouds and dragons. Made of lacquered wood with textile. Signed.

    Tsuka (hilt) OA+.3807.c. Hilt. Metal fittings carved and lightly gilded with clouds and dragons on shibuichi. Made of gilded wood, ray skin, copper, textile. Signed.

    Tsuba (sword guard) OA+.3807.d. Clouds carved and lightly gilded on shibuichi. Made of gilded iron. Signed.

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  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 17thC
    • 18thC-19thC (fittings)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 32.4 centimetres (without tang)
    • Curvature: 0.3 centimetres
    • Length: 15 centimetres (tsuka)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        signature
      • Inscription Position

        tang, obverse
      • Inscription Language

        Japanese
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Noshu Seki ju Kaneuji
      • Inscription Translation

        Kaneuji, resident of Seki, Mino Province
      • Inscription Type

        signature
      • Inscription Script

        Japanese
      • Inscription Position

        metal fittings
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Narinobu
  • Curator's comments

    Harris 2005

    This blade is 'hira zukuri' and is very slightly curved. The tang has two holes and the file marks are 'osujigai'. The tang tip is 'kurijiri'. The grain is an unruly, flowing 'itame' mixed with 'masame' and with some 'shirake', the faint white form of 'utsuri' found on many Seki-school swords, along the 'mune'. The 'hamon' is an ordered 'gunome' with 'togariba', and the 'boshi' has a pointed return.

    The lacquered scabbard has roundels of dragons in gold 'makie'. The metal fittings are all of 'shibuichi' carved and lightly gilded with clouds and dragons, and are all signed 'Narinobu'. The metalworker is probably Umetada Narinobu, who worked in Edo in the late Edo period and specialized in the technique of rubbing gold onto other metals.

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  • Bibliography

    • Harris 2005 36, B&W pl. 36 bibliographic details
  • Subjects

  • Acquisition date

    1978

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    OA+.3807.a

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Object reference number: JCR4679

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