A Fabulous and Utterly Beautiful Koto Period Wakizashi, Circa 1550. a Strong and Very Powerful Blade with a Stunning Hamon in Excellent Polish
In all original Edo period fittings and mounts. A simply wonderful sword with wide flat sided blade with wide full length hi to both blade faces. It bears a breathtakingly impressive deep notare with choji hamon. A delightful iron mokko tsuba with takebori small swooping birds and small pure gold highlights. The fuchi of shakudo and pure gold decorated shell fish and coral in crashing waves, and very fine quality.
It has a pair of copper menuki under the wrap that are deeply takebori spiders. The fuchi pommel is carved and polished buffalo horn. Very good original Edo saya with rich black urushi lacquer. Set within the kozuka pocket is a gold decorated kozuka with a good takebori crayfish.
Cherished for its infinite versatility, urushi lacquer is a distinctive art form that has spread across all facets of Japanese culture from the tea ceremony to the saya scabbards of samurai swords
Japanese artists created their own style and perfected the art of decorated lacquerware during the 8th century. Japanese lacquer skills reached its peak as early as the twelfth century, at the end of the Heian period (794-1185). This skill was passed on from father to son and from master to apprentice.
The varnish used in Japanese lacquer is made from the sap of the urushi tree, also known as the lacquer tree or the Japanese varnish tree (Rhus vernacifera), which mainly grows in Japan and China, as well as Southeast Asia. Japanese lacquer, 漆 urushi, is made from the sap of the lacquer tree. The tree must be tapped carefully, as in its raw form the liquid is poisonous to the touch, and even breathing in the fumes can be dangerous. But people in Japan have been working with this material for many millennia, so there has been time to refine the technique!
The urushi lacquer has a few natural, and certainly permissible for its age, very small surface wear marks and nicks.
16.5 inch long blade, 1.3 inches wide at the habaki, overall 23 inches long read more
.An Ancient Samurai Nambokochu Era Hira Zukuri Ancient Tanto Circa 1390
This most ancient original short sword has a simply stunning and superb quality, original, Edo period, polished giant kairagi ray skin saya, "Kairagi" means "Ume Blossom Skin".When you polish the skin, Ume Blossom patterns will appear.
Kairagi-same is very rare. In simply fabulous condition, with a kogai pocket containing its highest grade and quality shakudo kogai, with a shakudo clan mon onlaid, the kogai or sword needle, was a samurai's hairdressing tool. The main parts of the kogai are the grip section called do (胴), the needle itself called sao (棹 or 竿) and the little scoop at the back of the grip called mimikaki (耳掻). The saya is polished samegawa. Polished giant ray skin, samegawa, was, at the time of the samurai, some one of the most expensive and highly prized forms of decoration, effectively super hardened marine leather, to be used on sword scabbards, saya. It was the same material as is used on sword hilts under the binding, but the large and small protruding nodules were hand polished, for hundreds of hours, to create a highly polished flat surface, that was then hand dyed and thus created a decorated scabbard with immense natural beauty, and created at huge expense for the time.
Very attractive tsuba of an oval copper plate with inlaid shakudo and gold takebori figures of a mounted samurai and retainers, beneath Mount Fuji at the horizon. Copper and gold onlaid fushigashira on a botanical theme. The blade is most ancient and beautiful looking. A samurai weapon perfect for one who is interested in ancient samurai history and the form of original weapons carried at that time. In the late fourteenth century, the Kantō region was dominated by powerful warrior families. Of these, the Uesugi were the most powerful. They were able to take advantage of the fighting that erupted between families in the region to advance their own interests. In 1368, the Utsunomiya family revolted against the Kamakura headquarters of the Muromachi regime, because they had lost their shugo posts to the Uesugi. The Uesugi family was able to extend their influence by amassing shugo military governor posts under their jurisdiction, and by enfoeffing vassals in the Kantō region at the expense of other families. One could advance a theory that the Kantō region had become semi-independent from Kyoto, and that the Kamakura headquarters of the Muromachi regime existed because of Uesugi support. The Uesugi family was legally recognized by the Muromachi regime by their appointment to the Kantō kanrei post because of their unassailable position. The blade’s hamon is very narrow indeed, typical for blades of such great age, and thus due to its great age, and its yakiba partially contacts with the edge.
Overall 20 inches long in saya, blade inches 13.25 from tsuba to tip long read more
A Singularly Magnificent Original Antique Presentation Samurai Daisho. A Signed Original Edo Period Daito By Muneyoshi Presented to Yoshifuji, In the Fortuitous Time of The Midwinter, In The Year of the Rabbit, in The Reign of Emperor Keio
The shoto [short sword] is Sukesada school koto to shinto period, the daito [long sword] is a shinshinto sword signed Muneyoshi.
A Beautiful original antique Edo period (1596-1871) Daisho mounted with beautifully patinated copper koshirae based on hand carved botanical designs of incredible miniscule detail, gold tsukaito, with their very fine, original Edo period, decoratively embossed two tone black lacquer saya. The kodzuka is gold to match the ito and decorated with cranes. The daito has a superb midare hamon. Only the daito blade is shown in detail here at present. The daito is, signed Muneyoshi, the shoto is mumei [unsigned].The shoto has a good suguha hamon .
The tsuka bore an inscription, signed on a parchment [see photo] under the tsukaito, to date the occasion when and to whom they were presented, during the Keio Emperor's reign in 1867.
The presentation inscription reads;
“Keio san nen usagi Yoshi Chuto Kichi no tatsu Izumi ryu Koi, Koi Kawa Yoshifuji.’
Effectively, it translates to;
Presented to Yoshifuji, In the fortuitous time of the midwinter, in the year of the rabbit, [the third year] in the reign of Emperor Keio. Emperor Keio died in 1868, succeeded by the Meiji Emperor..
This form of parchment inscription, concealed under the tsuka-ito, is very rare indeed and we have never seen a complete inscription such as this to survive before.
The daisho has a pair of very fine kikubana sukashi daisho tsuba with a tetsumigakiji, possibly Sunagawa Masayoshi school, Edo period.
The Sunagawa tsuba school derived from the artists trained by teachers from within the Yokoya school founded by Yokoya Somin. The Ishiguro (by way of the Sunagawa school) and Iwamoto schools had the same antecedents. The botan (peony) was a common theme in this school.
The daisho is a Japanese term referring to the traditional weapons of the samurai. The daisho is composed of a katana daito and wakizashi shoto. The daito, meaning big sword, and shoto, meaning small sword, The katana, the longer of the two swords, was typically employed in man-to-man combat. The wakizashi made an effective main-gauche or close-combat weapon. A daisho allows for defense while fighting or the fighting of two enemies. Also, the daisho allows the fighter to have a longer or more widespread fighting range. The concept of the daisho originated with the pairing of a short sword with whatever long sword was being worn during a particular time period. It has been noted that the tachi would be paired with a tantō, and later the uchigatana would be paired with another shorter uchigatana. With the advent of the katana, the wakizashi eventually was chosen by samurai as the short sword over the tantō. The ancient custom of leaving the katana at the door of a castle or palace when entering facilitated the continuing to wear the wakizashi within the host's castle.
The wearing of daishō was strictly limited to the samurai class, and became a symbol or badge of their rank. Daishō may have became popular around the end of the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573) as several early examples date from the late sixteenth century. An edict in 1629 defining the duties of a samurai required the wearing of a daishō when on official duty. During the Meiji period an edict was passed in 1871 abolishing the requirement of the wearing of daishō by samurai, and in 1876 the wearing of swords in public by most of Japan's population was banned; this ended the use of the daishō as the symbol of the samurai, and the samurai class was abolished soon after the sword ban. Picture of Last Fight of the Soga Brothers, 1858 by Kuniyoshi (1797 - 1861). Both saya have small areas of natural wear and use. The stand shown is for illustration only and not included. however it will come with another complimentary daisho stand. The shoto blade is being carefully cleaned so can be photographed later.
Special offer item, part one of a personal private collection, sourced from a former Far Eastern specialist fine samurai sword collector read more
Most Beautiful, Elegant & Breathtaking Shinto Period Yamato Katana With All Original Edo Period Sword Mounts. Brown Ishime Stone Finish Lacquer Saya & The Blade Shows Incredible Running Grain, Called, in Fine Damascus Steel Circles 'Maiden Hair' Pattern
A incredibly beautiful katana from the rare Yamato school of swordmaking, from the late 1600’s to early 1700’s. It has a very nice Edo period hammered plate iron tsuba decorated with branches of prunus blossom, tettsu handachi style fushi kashira, rich brown ishime stone finish saya, gold tsukaito over dragon menuki and traditional samegawa, giant rayskin. The saya is bound with a gold silk sageo. The blade is very fine, in stunning polish, with a fine ubu original length tang, and a very fine suguha hamon and stunning straight running grain hada. Its hada a very distinctive and beautiful misame straight grain hada, which is often the distinctive features of Yamato swords from Nara. It is said that all Yamato swords would have misame somewhere within the sword. Of course we use a term maiden hair which is certainly not a Japanese term, but it is very apt for such a stunning running grain that this sword has in abundance.
The five main Japanese sword making traditions ( Yamato, Yamashiro, Bizen, Soshu, Mino). The Yamato school is a school that originated in Yamato Province corresponding to present-day Nara Prefecture. Nara was the capital of ancient Japan. Since there is a legend that it was a swordsmith named Amakuni who first signed the tang of a sword, he is sometimes regarded as the founder and the oldest school. However, the founder identified in the material is Yukinobu in the Heian period. They forged the swords that were often worn by monk warriors called sōhei in Nara's large temples. The Yamato school consists of five schools: Senjuin, Shikkake, Taima, Tegai, and Hōshō. Each school forged swords under the supervision of a different temple. In the middle of the Muromachi period, swordsmiths moved to various places such as Mino, and the school disappeared. Their swords are often characterized by a deep curve, a narrow width from blade to back, a high central ridge, and a small tip. There are direct lines on the surface of the blade, the hamon is linear, and the grain at the boundary of the hamon is medium in size. It is often evaluated as a sword with a simple and strong impression
The samurai were roughly the equivalent of feudal knights. Employed by the shogun or daimyo, they were members of hereditary warrior class that followed a strict "code" that defined their clothes, armour and behaviour on the battlefield. But unlike most medieval knights, samurai warriors could read and they were well versed in Japanese art, literature and poetry.
Samurai endured for almost 700 years, from 1185 to 1867. Samurai families were considered the elite. They made up only about six percent of the population and included daimyo and the loyal soldiers who fought under them. Samurai means “one who serves."
Samurai were expected to be both fierce warriors and lovers of art, a dichotomy summed up by the Japanese concepts of to stop the spear expanding into bushido (the way of life of the warrior) and bun (the artistic, intellectual and spiritual side of the samurai). Originally conceived as away of dignifying raw military power, the two concepts were synthesised in feudal Japan and later became a key feature of Japanese culture and morality.The quintessential samurai was Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary early Edo-period swordsman who reportedly killed 60 men before his 30th birthday and was also a painting master. Members of a hierarchal class or caste, samurai were the sons of samurai and they were taught from an early age to unquestionably obey their mother, father and daimyo. When they grew older they could be trained by Zen Buddhist masters in meditation and the Zen concepts of impermanence and harmony with nature. They were also taught about painting, calligraphy, nature poetry, mythological literature, flower arranging, and the tea ceremony.
As part of their military training, it has been said, but possibly as part of the myth of samurai training, that samurai were taught to sleep with their right arm underneath them so if they were attacked in the middle of the night and their the left arm was cut off the could still fight with their right arm. It is further said that Samurai that tossed and turned at night were cured of the habit by having two knives placed on either side of their pillow.
Samurai have been describes as "the most strictly trained human instruments of war to have existed." They were expected to be proficient in the martial arts of aikido and kendo as well as swordsmanship and archery---the traditional methods of samurai warfare---which were viewed not so much as skills but as art forms that flowed from natural forces that harmonized with nature.
An individual, in certain circumstances, apparently didn't become a full-fledged samurai until, some say, he wandered around the countryside as begging pilgrim for a couple of years to learn humility. Again this may be part of the myth. However, when all his training was completed a samurai trainee that achieved samurai status and received a salary from his daimyo, paid from taxes (usually rice) raised from the local populace, he truly became the very best at his art in the world of sword combat
Swords in Japan have long been symbols of power and honour and seen as works of art.
29 inch blade tsuba to tip read more
A Wonderful and Rare Museum Grade 500 Year Old Koto Era Muramachi Period Moro Ha Zukuri Bladed Samurai Aikuchi Tanto
Moro-ha zukuri blades [double edged] are immensely desirable and particularly from this period, very rare indeed. Eminently suitable for any museum grade collection. Original Edo polish. Original edo koshirae, and saya, clan mon menuki in silver over a narrow cord binding. Kodzuka with iron handle and gold inlaid geometric patterns, kogai with ridge lines. A fine saya mount of a shakudo rabbit. Tied with a very nice juzu of Edo Buddhist prayer beads.Prayer beads were introduced into Japan with Buddhism and were used by Buddhists of the noble class. Their usage became widespread from the Kamakura era( in 1192 to 1333) Moroha zukuri is a rare form of double edged tanto blade that is asymmetric for the ridge line. Fine examples were from the The Sue Bizen 末備前 school; the Sue-Seki 末関 school; The Sue Mihara 末三原 With the reconciliation of the Northern and Southern courts during the rule of the Ashikaga Shoguns, the Muromachi period began. This ushered in a golden age of culture and art. While the court was unified, the country was torn by constant civil war particularly after the death of the third Ashikaga Shogun, Yoshimitsu.
Prior to the Muromachi Period the word katana generally referred to tanto. Long blades were called tachi or uchikatana. We find tanto surviving from this time that emulate the middle Kamakura style, i.e. blades with uchizori and others with the Nanbokucho sun-nobi length. After the middle of the Muromachi period, there appeared many rather broad, saki-zori blades of less than 36 cm. Overall 12.75 inches long, blade 7.75 inches long. Small finger marks and very light scratches on the blade surface, perfectly acceptable for such an ancient blade. It is important to bear in mind, that due to the revered status that Japanese swords achieve for most of their working lives in Japan, that the condition they survive in can be simply remarkable. One can see just how remarkable it can be, by comparing the condition of this fine sword [that was made around the same time as the early Tudor period of King Henry the VIIIth] to any equivalent aged, surviving, early Tudor period sword, from any country outside of Japan, and that comparison will show just how fine any Japanese sword’s state of preservation, from the same era, truly can be.
A Ko Wakizashi, or Long Sunobi Tanto, Signed Blade Shinto Period Circa 1650
All original Edo mounts and a most fine and elegant blade with notare based on suguha hamon, signed, possibly Norishige, but the kanji are somewhat difficult to interpret, 15.5 inch blade measured from tsuba to tip.
Suite of matching koshirae mounts in tetsu with the tsuba gold inlaid with a stylized dragon and clouds, similary in laid in the sayajiri and saya band inlaid, with a black stippled erushi lacquer, and a carved wood tsuka. The kozuka is a takebori dragon on the plain tetsu ground, the blade is carved wood. The blade has a fine silver foiled habaki engraved with oblique raindrop pattern.
The Tanto that varied from the traditional size were called Sunobi-Tanto or O-Tanto. These were larger versions of the Tanto which featured blades usually measuring between 13 to 14 inches long. It was close to the size of the Ko-Wakizashi, which is a shorter version of the Wakizashi. However as this blade is even longer that the usual 14 inches, that is why it can be considered as a transitional weapon that has a foot in both camps so to speak. Because of its often small size, the Samurai warriors were able to conceal the Tanto in their clothing. It was also the Shoto or small sword in the Daisho and was paired with the Tachi. This was before the Samurai chose to use the Wakizashi over the Tanto as an auxiliary sword.
The Wakizashi was a Samurai warrior’s backup weapon that was used for close-quarter battles. Aside from this, the sword was a Samurai warrior’s tool for beheading a defeated opponent. It was sometimes used for committing Seppuku, a ritualistic suicide.
In addition, the Wakizashi was one of the few short swords available to the Samurai warrior. Another sword they might use was called a Chisa Katana, effectively a short Katana perfect for use within buildings castles etc. and the prerogative of the personal full time bodyguard of a Daimyo lord, who were the usually the only samurai permitted to be armed in his presence day and night.
Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan's knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai a very real matter of life or death that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated. European knights and Japanese samurai have some interesting similarities. Both groups rode horses and wore armour. Both came from a wealthy upper class. And both were trained to follow strict codes of moral behaviour. In Europe, these ideals were called chivalry; the samurai code was called Bushido, "the way of the warrior." The rules of chivalry and Bushido both emphasize honour, self-control, loyalty, bravery, and military training read more
A Fabulous Wakizashi by Master Sadahide Student of Masahide Dated 1830
A simply wonderful wide and sizeable blade with fine hamon and incredible tight grain hada. Copper patinated fushi kashira of the ‘tiger in the bamboo grove’. A very good signed copper tsuba with samurai. Original black lacquer saya with fine kozuka utility knife. As Sukehiro and Shinkai were highly praised by Kamada Natae in his book he wrote in this period swordsmiths begun to imitate their works making strong shape and Hamon in Toran-Ha. Swords in this period imitated the Osaka style. Then Masahide ( one of most famous sword smiths in Shinshinto time ) advocated in his book that "we should make swords by the method of the Koto era." With this final aim swordsmiths begun to create their own steels trying to reach the quality of the ancient one. Combining materials which have different quantity of carbon, a good Jihada will appear. Therefore, swordsmiths used a lot of materials like old nails and the like to adjust the quantity of carbon to be suitable for swordmaking.Even today this steel is called Oroshi-gane. As already said an easy way to produce Tamahagane was available in Shinto time and swordsmith could get good quality Tamahagane. Therefore, it seems that most of them didn't make their own Oroshi-gane. But some swordsmiths like Kotetsu or Hankei followed Masahide suggestions and reached a top-quality level combining ancient iron/steel with modern one. In effect Ko-Tetsu means "ancient steel". Exceptionally powerful 16inch blade read more
A Singularly Fabulous Ancient Koto Period 15th Century Katana Circa 1480, With Stunning Heianjo School Tsuba
A very fine and beautiful 600 year old Koto katana that looks absolutely spectacular, with an o-suriage blade, with full length hi groove, and with a notare hamon that undulates with extraordinary depth into the blade.
All original Edo mounts and saya, with Higo mounts inlaid with gold leaves and tendrils, and original Edo period turquoise blue tsuka-ito (柄糸) over gold and shakudo menuki (目貫):of flowers, on traditional giant rayskin.
The saya is finely ribbed with silk cord ribbing under black lacquer, with carved buffalo horn kurigata (栗形) and kaeshizuno (返し角) and It has a fine and large four lobed mokko gata tsuba (鍔 or 鐔) form, with punch marks, sekigane inserted in the nakago ana, a look of a great strength, and a lightly hammered ground to effect a stone like surface, on the both sides, from the natural folding of the plate. It is pierced in delicate manner on top and bottom with stylised warabite, bracken shoots, and on either side of the central opening with large irregular ryohitsu shaped apertures of two hisago. The iron plate is finely inlaid on both sides and on the rounded rim with a thin roped band made in brass, and decorated all around the edge in brass hirazogan in a design of bellflower blossoms, clementis leaves and tendrils, flushing to the surface, and known as Chinese grass or karasuka. The formal design in negative silhouette is straightforward, the lowering of the level of the surface between the rim and the seppadai contributes to a sense of stability, the metal has a deep purplish patina, and the entire guard has a rustic appearance. This very pleasing masterpiece exhibits a nice feel due to the simplicity of the design.
This ko sukashi work is the ultimate in simplification. this severe, unemotional work is a deep humanity that speaks to us today. This strict style marks the dividing line between youthful severity and older warm humanity. All of these traits make this an exceptoional work of Heianjo school, in a style influenced by workers of Yoshiro school of the Koike family in Kyoto and as a gift from one Daimyo to another. The size, quality of inlay, and condition all confirm the excellent craftsmanship characteristic of this school. This is probably a transition piece between the onin and the Heianjo school. This style of tsuba often given the designation of Heianjo school, could also be from the last period of onin brass inlay style of the Muromachi period. Yoshiro tsuba are originated from the Heianjo Zogan school, active in the second half of the 16th century. Naomasa was the most famous member of the large Koike family school, he took the technique and style to the highest level. Early Edo period tsuba. 17th Century. Overall condition of the tsuba is excellent. To place it in context as to just how old this sword is, in its British time-scale comparison, it was made, in Japan, in the era of the 'Wars of the Roses' between King Richard IIIrd and King Henry VIIth. 28 inches long blade tsuba to tip read more
A Beautiful Koto Period Tanto Signed Sukesada Around 450 Years Old
A beautiful early tanto with double signed tang, all original Edo fittings with a kozuka utility knife & twin kogai gold inlaid chopsticks, with gold tendril inlay that match the gold inlay on the tsuba..The signature is jolly difficult to read, but we believe it is Bizen Koku Ju Osafune Tobe Jo Geni 2 Nen 8 Gatsu Hi
It is Sue Koto, Jyo Saku, Bizen
Blade is circa 1570 made by Sukesada of Bizen.
It has a tsunami wave pattern kojiri cap in silver, gold and shakudo fuchigashira, the kashira bears the paulownia clan mon of the Toyotomi samurai clan, it has lacquered leather tsukaito, gold and shakudo menuki of figures, mokko tsuba in iron with gold vine inlay, and a silver habaki with rain drop engraving. The original lacquer on the saya is stunning and has a zig zag motif in the pattern carved design over abilone inlaid dark green-black lacquer. The most influential figure within the Toyotomi was Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the three "unifiers of Japan". Oda Nobunaga was another primary unifier and the ruler of the Oda clan at the time. Hideyoshi joined Oda Nobunaga as a retainer, despite his peasant background. Hideyoshi succeeded Nobunaga after the Honnō-ji Incident in 1582 and continued Nobunaga's campaign to unite Japan that led to the closing of the Sengoku period. Hideyoshi became the de facto leader of Japan and acquired the prestigious positions of Chancellor of the Realm and Imperial Regent by the mid-1580s. Hideyoshi launched the Japanese invasions of Korea in 1592 to initial success, but eventual military stalemate damaged his prestige before his death in 1598. As the virtual ruler of most of Japan, Hideyoshi created a new clan name "Toyotomi" in 1584, and achieved the unification of Japan in 1590.
When Hideyoshi died in 1598, his son Toyotomi Hideyori was only five years old. Five regents were appointed to rule until his maturity, and conflicts among them began quickly. In 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu deposed Hideyori and took power after winning the Battle of Sekigahara. In 1614, Hideyori came into conflict with the Tokugawa clan, leading to Tokugawa Ieyasu's Siege of Osaka from 1614 to 1615. As a result of the siege, Hideyori and his mother, Yodo-dono, committed seppuku in the flames of Osaka castle. This tanto was made at the very cusp of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s rise to power. tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi. The tanto’s primary use was a type of stabbing weapon, however, the blade could also be used for slashing as well. Some tanto were forged with a particularly thick cross section which was thought to aid in piercing the armour of enemies, this type of dagger would be called a yoroi toshi.
A tanto would most often be worn by Samurai, and it was very uncommon to come across a non samurai with a tanto. It was not only men who carried these daggers, women would on occasions carry a small tanto called a kaiken in their obi which would be used for self-defence. In feudal Japan a tanto would occasionally be worn by Samurai in place of the wakizashi in a combination called the daisho, which roughly translates as big-little, in reference to the big Samurai Sword (Katana) and the small dagger (tanto). Before the rise of the katana it was more common for a Samurai to carry a tachi and tanto combination as opposed to a katana and wakizashi. 13.25 inches long overall, blade 8.75 inches
An Original Edo Period Samurai Yabira Yadzutsu with Ya. A Samurai Bowman's Quiver and Single Arrow with Sea Eagle Feathers.
The wood body with basket weave lacquer sparsely decorated with bamboo in gold lacquer,
As early as the 4th century archery contests were being held in Japan. In the Heian period (between the 8th and 12th centuries) archery competitions on horseback were very popular and during this time training in archery was developed. Archers had to loose their arrows against static and mobile targets both on foot and on horseback. The static targets were the large kind or o-mato and was set at thirty-three bow lengths and measured about 180cm in diameter; the deer target or kusajishi consisted of a deer's silhouette and was covered in deer skin and marks indicated vital areas on the body; and finally there was the round target or marumono which was essentially a round board, stuffed and enveloped in strong animal skin. To make things more interesting for the archer these targets would be hung from poles and set in motion so that they would provide much harder targets to hit. Throughout feudal Japan indoor and outdoor archery ranges could be found in the houses of every major samurai clan. Bow and arrow and straw targets were common sights as were the beautiful cases which held the arrows and the likewise ornate stands which contained the bow. These items were prominent features in the houses of samurai. The typical longbow, or war bow (daikyu), was made from deciduous wood faced with bamboo and was reinforced with a binding of rattan to further strengthen the composite weapon together. To waterproof it the shaft was lacquered, and was bent in the shape of a double curve. The bowstring was made from a fibrous substance originating from plants (usually hemp or ramie) and was coated with wax to give a hard smooth surface and in some cases it was necessary for two people to string the bow. Bowstrings were often made by skilled specialists and came in varying qualities from hard strings to the soft and elastic bowstrings used for hunting; silk was also available but this was only used for ceremonial bows. Other types of bows existed. There was the short bow, one used for battle called the hankyu, one used for amusement called the yokyu, and one used for hunting called the suzume-yumi. There was also the maru-ki or roundwood bow, the shige-no-yumi or bow wound round with rattan, and the hoko-yumi or the Tartar-shaped bow. Every Samurai was expected to be an expert in the skill of archery, and it presented the various elements, essence and the representation of the Samurai's numerous skills, for hunting, combat, sport and amusement, and all inextricably linked together. The Hama Yumi is a sacred bow used in 1103 C.E. in Japan. The Bow is said to be one of the oldest and most sacred Japanese weapons; the first Emperor Jimmu is always depicted carrying a bow.
According to legend, at that time, the Imperial Palace was taken over by an evil demon, which caused the Emperor to fall ill with great anxiety and suffering. When the Imperial High Priests tried and failed in their efforts to destroy the demon and dispel the Imperial household of its influence, they were at a loss. Finally, an archer, Yorimasu Minamoto, was summoned to the Imperial Palace in the hopes of slaying the demon with his bow and arrow, ridding the palace of this plague. With a steady hand and a virtuous heart, Yorimasu Minamoto vanquished the demon with the first arrow, and his bow was declared to be a Hama Yumi; an "Evil-Destroying Bow", (and the first arrow a Hama Ya; a "Evil-Destroying Arrow"). Overall 37.5 inches long read more