Masterpieces of KNM

Short Sword Mounting with Plum Blossom Design

Short Sword Mounting with Plum Blossom Design

The hilt of this mounting is wrapped with a silver-plated layer of metal and covered with an openwork design. The scabbard is covered with polished and lacquered sharkskin. Some fittings are polished gilt, while others are carved or relief gilt. This type of sword is meant to be tied at the waist and usually it does not have a sword guard. The body is generally short, between 35 and 55 cm in length.

The trend of covering scabbards with sharkskin began in the Kamakura Period (13th-14th Centuries). The skin of a kind of sturgeon found in the South China Sea was considered most desirable because it reveals a plum blossom-like pattern when polished.

The only other extant example in this style is a sword preserved in Kasuga Shrine in Nara. The fine quality mounting and excellent state of preservation of this piece make it a valuable example of a Namboku-cho Period aikuchi sword.

Length: 55.0 cm
Namboku-cho Period (14th Century)
Important Cultural Property
EK 182
Kyoto National Museum

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