Royal Armouries

Japanese glaive (naginata)

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Date: 1690 | Object number: XXVIL.219

blade length 344 mm
tang length 458 mm
haft length 1770 mm
top to the upper edge of the hand-stop 430 mm

Japanese glaive (naginata)

Description

日本の薙刀

These weapons consisted of a heavy single-edged curved blade mounted on a shaft about two metres long. Earlier examples have long blades and proportionately shorter shafts. Very late examples having only light, diminutive blades were used by women.

Until 1600 they were popular weapons for individual combat, being wielded with wide circling cuts that could be delivered from any direction. Like spears, the blades were forged with a long tapering tang that reinforced the shaft. During the peaceful Edo period (1603–1867) they continued to be made for use in processions.

松平氏の薙刀 銘武蔵住藤原國保, 江戸時代

The black lacquered haft is decorated in gold lacquer with alternating mon depicting oxalis blossom and either a white oak leaf or a mulberry leaf. This combination of heraldic devices was possibly used by a branch of the Matsudaira family.

The late 17th century blade is signed ‘Musashi ju Fujiwara Kuniyasu’, listed in Hawley, Japanese Swordsmiths as working about 1684.

One of the mon on the shaft and scabbard is of a three petalled flower in a circle used by the Fujii family, the other a mulberry leave in a circle used by the Yamamoto family (Seishi Kamon no Jiten).

Japanese, haft probably 19th century, blade late 17th century

Old Tower Collection

blade length 344 mm
tang length 458 mm
haft length 1770 mm
top to the upper edge of the hand-stop 430 mm

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