East Asia, Japan, Edo Period, ca. 1603 to 1868 CE. A beautiful example of a "naginata" (literally "mowing down sword" or "reaping sword"). The lacquered wooden pole has an iron pommel in the shape of a crescent, a midsection that is tightly wrapped with twisted string, and an upper body that features hundreds of petite inlaid nacre fragments. The lengthy steel blade has a lightly curved profile, a sharpened edge, a thick spine, and a pointed tip, with two grooves along each side filled with vermilion-hued lacquer. A form-fitting blade sheath accompanies the weapon and boasts lustrous black-lacquered surfaces. Size: 2.25" W x 70.75" H (5.7 cm x 179.7 cm).
According to ancient weapons expert Harvey J.S. Withers, "[The naginata] was a common polearm used by Samurai warriors and is most commonly associated with the Kamakura and Muromachi Periods (1338-1573). The naginata comprised a lacquered (sometimes inlaid with mother-of-pearl) wooden pole approximately 2m (6.5 ft) in length. Onto this was forged a curved blade in very much the same way as traditional katana blades - and, indeed, many naginatas were actually mounted with recycled katana blades. The blade, or nakago, or a naginata was secured onto the pole by a single peg, or mekugi." (Withers, Harvey J.S. "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Swords and Sabres." Lorenz Books, London, 2010, p. 80)
Provenance: private J.H. collection, Beaverton, Oregon, USA, acquired in November 2006; ex-private Onomichi, Hiroshima, Japan collection
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Chipping to some lacquered areas, nacre inlays, and blade sheath, with minor abrasions to handle, and slight bending to overall form of blade. Nice patina throughout.