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Sword and scabbard

Sword and scabbard

  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Museum number:

    685 to B-1908

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is an unusually mounted Japanese companion sword, known as a wakizashi. The blade is unsigned and very worn. The scabbard is covered with lacquered rayskin and decorated with what appear to be miscellaneous pieces of sword-fittings (mostly of iron and patinated copper) which have no coherent theme and seem randomly applied. It is possible that they were added to the scabbard after manufacture.

After 1876 when the samurai were abolished as a class and the wearing of swords was prohibited there was very little further demand for swords and sword-fittings. Many craftsmen turned their hands to the newly arrived market of foreigners who avidly collected anything Japanese. Daggers were worn both by samurai and non-samurai including, increasingly, the merchant classes. Merchants tended towards gaudier mountings for their blades so the unusual decoration of this wakizashi would indicate that it was not for a samurai, but it is so oddly decorated that we must assume it was intended for sale to a western visitor to Japan in the late 19th century.

Physical description

Unsigned Japanese companion sword (wakizashi) in an unusually decorated scabbard

Place of Origin

Japan (made)

Date

18th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Descriptive line

Met, Japan, SWORDS and DAGGERS

Met, Japan, swords and daggers

Met, Japan, swords and daggers

Categories

Arms & Armour

Collection

East Asia Collection

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