1. A weapon consisting typically of a long, straight or slightly curved, pointed blade having one or two cutting edges and set into a hilt.
2. An instrument of death or destruction.
Silver Mounted Hunting Sword
The hanger has a single and false-edged blade with wide fuller. The base is engraved and gilt with trophies and Kabbalah numbers. The bone grip is engraved, has silver mounts, while the sword is presented in its leather scabbard with silver mounts.
Chinese Short Sword
The sword has a straight double edged single fuller blade set onto a 1 9/10 inch wide, 1/5th inch thick round jade guard - white/green in color with silver panels at front and rear. The grip is smooth round jade, light green with darker green streaked accents fitted with a three inch long silver collar with a floral shaped border along the bottom, and a round pommel cap, both of which are both over 90% covered in attractive multi-colored wireless cloisonne enamel.
The collar is showing an extensive vinework in yellow, blue, green and brown radiating from a green, yellow and gray floral bloom. This also has additional floral designs on the edge and a light blue background. There are also similar vines around the side of the cap with a single blooming flower covering the bottom.
Similar decoration is present on the scabbard, with the addition of a number of green and red stone (possibly turquoise and jasper) accents, with a 2 7/8 inch long silver throat decorated with raised cloisonne accented Eastern dragons, including a large 3-dimensional horned dragon head consuming the sun (a reference to the ancient mythology of the cause of solar eclipses).
The latter doubles as the base for two suspension rings, 12 individual rings of white/green jade, between 5/8 to 3/4 inch long each, with 11 floral cloisonne and stone decorated silver bands between them. There’s a silver tip with additional raised dragon designs and wire outlined stone accents and finally a green jade endcap with a silver flower on the flared end.
The dagger has a blade fitted with a golden collar, showing a deeply carved bonshi horimono on the right side of the blade and a spearhead pattern on the left. The signature on the tang attributes the blade to “Kanemitsu”, in the later portion of the Koto era.
The black lacquer panels feature golden floral accents are present on the sides of the hilt and sheath, with the edges and tips, along with the tsuba, decorated with raised cherry blossoms with golden accents.
The mekugi is topped with a pair of 3/4 inch long golden butterflies, and a three dimensional gold accented silver flower arrangement serves as a suspension band on the back edge. The dagger has a 6 inch long two-piece kogai with 5 carved symbols on the front of each side, and a two symbol signature on the back with a golden three symbol signature inside the slot.
The Sword of Mercy
The sword has a gilt-iron hilt with a wooden, wire-bound grip, and a broad steel blade, truncated about 2.5 cms from the original point, with a “running wolf” mark inlaid in copper. It is presented with its velvet-covered leather scabbard with gold embroidery and silver-gilt mounts.
This sword, known as the Sword of Mercy or the Curtana, is one of three swords which are carried unsheathed, pointing upwards, in the coronation procession. This sword is accompanied by two swords of Justice (Sword of Temporal Justice and Sword of Spiritual Justice).
The practice of carrying three swords, representing kingly virtues, dates back to the coronation of Richard the Lionheart in 1189. This sword, representing Mercy, has had its tip removed so that it no longer functions as a weapon, although in origin it was constructed in the same way as a practical sword.
The three swords were made for the coronation of Charles I in 1626 and then placed with the regalia in Westminster Abbey. Together with the coronation spoon, these three works were the only pieces to survive the Civil War and Interregnum untouched.
It is not known whether they were used in the coronation procession of Charles II, but they have certainly been used since 1685. A new scabbard was made for the sword in 1821 for the coronation of George IV.
Featuring the coat of arms of the Holstein family of Reventlow, the sword was part of a collection of weapons which was sold in Denmark, Gaunö in 1930. The handle has a wood grip with leather wrap and an interesting Octahedron shaped pommel.
The guard is a set of flattened quillons (23.5 cm wide) curving downwards and have spatulated ends. The blade also has a single fuller on either side and is inscribed with "Durch Gott und seine Gnad das Glück erhoff ich" and on the other side “alle Stund und Augenblick”, plus “AD 1563”.
Studies on the Ulfberht Swords
Since I got a couple of messages asking about these swords, with help from James G. Elmslie (thank you!), have some academic reading about them. Before you start glorifying, please read…
Studies Of Viking Age Swords: Metallography and Archaeology
The paper is a comment on Alan Williams’ investigation “A Metallurgical Study of some Viking Swords” published in Gladius XXIX. Williams’ paper comprises metallurgical inventigations of 44 Viking Age swords, all with the ‘ULFBERHT’ inscriptions. Such investigations, made by a well qualified metallurgist are essential to archaeology.
Unfortunately, this one has some serious limitations. In order to give a good descriptions of the quality of the swords-blade, samples showing at least the section through both the edge and the central part of the blade are necessary.
This is mostly not the case in Williams’ investigations, and he gives insufficient information about his samples. Other weak points are his group division and his interpretation of the production area for the blades containing high-carbon steel.
The Ulfberht sword blades reevaluated
Readers of archaeological literature about Viking Age weapons are familiar with the male name ‘Vlfberht’ which is welded onto Viking Age sword blades. The name is in the archaeological litetrature also written ‘Ulfberh’; V and U were used interchanganly for the semi-vowel [ w ], but the sword blade signature is with one wingle expection “written” <V>.
‘Ulfberh’ is regarded as a Frankish blacksmith and the name itself is Frankish, from the lower Rhine Area, and it is generally supposed that his sword blades were traded from the Frankish Realm to pagan Europe. During preparations for the publication of the Norwegian-Russian Sword Project it struck me that these “axioms” need a renewed discussion.
[ NEWS ] Scholars confirm first discovery of Japanese sword from master bladesmith Masamune in 150 years
Should you visit a history museum in Japan, and, like I do, make an immediate beeline for the collections of samurai armor and weaponry, you might be surprised to notice that Japanese swords are customarily displayed with the stitching removed from the hilt. Visually, it sort of dampens the impact, since the remaining skinny slab of metal is a lot less evocative of it actually being gripped and wielded by one of Japan’s warriors of ages past.
The reason this is done, though, is because many Japanese swordsmiths would “sign” their works by etching their names into the metal of the hilt. Some craftsmen achieved almost legendary status, becoming folk heroes whose names are widely known even today.
The most respected of all, though, was Masamune, whose reluctance to sign his blades has made identifying them difficult. But difficult and impossible are two different things, and for the first time in over a century, a sword has been confirmed by historians as being the creation of the master himself.
Masamune was active during the late 13th and early 14th centuries, the part of Japan that today is part of Kanagawa Prefecture. He lived his life during the Kamakura Period, when the samurai class saw the most dramatic rise in its power over Japan.
Producing the highest-quality blades during a time of military power made Masamune’s swords extremely prized. Today, the only swordsmith who can approach his exalted historical status is Muramasa, who was born hundreds of years later. Justified or not, Muramasa is said to have been psychologically imbalanced and prone to violence. Superstition holds that these traits were passed on to the swords he forged, and as such Masamune’s are often held to be the superior weapons.
However, it can be hard to keep track of weapons in a country that’s gone through as many civil wars, revolutions, and occupations as Japan has, no matter how impressive their pedigree. Last year, a man brought a sword, which had found its way into his personal property, to the Kyoto National Museum to be appraised. Historian and sword scholar Taeko Watanabe spent the months between then and now studying the blade, and has recently announce her conclusion that it is a Masamune.
"Judging from its unique characteristics such as the pattern that can be seen in the side of the blade… it was unmistakably forged by Masamune."
The particular sword, which Watanabe says is called the Shimazu Masamune, had been given in 1862 by Iemochi, the 14th Tokugawa shogun, to the Imperial Family to mark his marriage to Princess Kazunomiya, also known as Princess Kazu.
"By presenting such a masterwork to the Imperial Family, Iemochi showed the deepest appreciation and highest respect," Watanabe commented.
Following this, the sword’s whereabouts were unknown until its anonymous owner brought it to the museum in Kyoto. It is the first blade to be confirmed as a Masamune in roughly 150 years.
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