Polearm Blade thumbnail 1
Polearm Blade thumbnail 2
+1
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Polearm Blade

1681-1694 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The naginata was a type of polearm, or halberd, with a curved blade that could vary in size from about 25cm to 80cm. The pole on which it was mounted could also vary in size. It was an extremely effective weapon against opponents on foot and could keep a swordsman at a distance whilst enabling the naginata user to cut him. The naginata was especially useful against mounted samurai and was used to attack a horse's legs to dismount enemies and then to cut them once they had fallen. The first recorded use of the naginata in combat was in an 11th century document - 'Oshu Gosannenki' - A Diary of Three Years in Oushu. From this time on it also became a favoured weapon of Japan's militant Buddhist monks, the Sohei.

In combat it was generally used to cut in large sweeping motions but could also be used for thrusting as the point could penetrate traditional Japanese armour, especially with the thrust from a long pole. The butt-end of the pole had a steel end-cap that could also be used for attack.

The naginata was used to a great extent by samurai women who were frequently well trained in its use. The naginata could be used effectively by women to protect themselves (and their children) by keeping an attacker at a safe distance. In the peaceful Edo period, the naginata was still regarded as an effective weapon but tended to be used in ceremonial parades, rather than in combat.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.
(Some alternative part names are also shown below)
  • Polearm Blade
  • Naginata
  • Shirasaya
  • Naginata
Materials and Techniques
Forged steel
Brief Description
naginata blade mounted in a shirasaya hilt, Met, Japan, SWORDS and DAGGERS



shirasaya for a naginata blade, Met, Japan, SWORDS and DAGGERS
Physical Description
Blade for a Japanese polearm (naginata); signed Yoshitake
Dimensions
  • Overall length: 38.2cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
'Izumo [no] Kami Fujiwara Yoshitake' (Signature and title; Japanese; outer face (omote) of blade)
Summary
The naginata was a type of polearm, or halberd, with a curved blade that could vary in size from about 25cm to 80cm. The pole on which it was mounted could also vary in size. It was an extremely effective weapon against opponents on foot and could keep a swordsman at a distance whilst enabling the naginata user to cut him. The naginata was especially useful against mounted samurai and was used to attack a horse's legs to dismount enemies and then to cut them once they had fallen. The first recorded use of the naginata in combat was in an 11th century document - 'Oshu Gosannenki' - A Diary of Three Years in Oushu. From this time on it also became a favoured weapon of Japan's militant Buddhist monks, the Sohei.



In combat it was generally used to cut in large sweeping motions but could also be used for thrusting as the point could penetrate traditional Japanese armour, especially with the thrust from a long pole. The butt-end of the pole had a steel end-cap that could also be used for attack.



The naginata was used to a great extent by samurai women who were frequently well trained in its use. The naginata could be used effectively by women to protect themselves (and their children) by keeping an attacker at a safe distance. In the peaceful Edo period, the naginata was still regarded as an effective weapon but tended to be used in ceremonial parades, rather than in combat.
Collection
Accession Number
M.32-1937

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdFebruary 11, 2004
Record URL