Long Sword ("Tachi"), Known as “Uesugi Tachi”


Long Sword ("Tachi"), Known as “Uesugi Tachi”

others / Kamakura




National Treasure

This tachi, complete with scabbard and fittings, is a long sword meant to hang at the left hip. It was made in the 13th century, during the Kamakura period, and has since been passed down for many years at Mishima Grand Shrine in Shizuoka Prefecture. It is called the Uesugi Tachi because it was presented to the shrine by a member of the Uesugi family. In 1887 it was presented to Emperor Meiji, and therefore now belongs to the Tokyo National Museum. The scabbard is lacquered over a delicate sprinkling of gold dust, while the bird designs are slightly raised, giving them a three-dimensional appearance. The silver fittings are decorated with flocks of birds, each of which is depicted in a distinct pose. The luxurious materials, refined technique and skillfully executed designs make this one of the finest Japanese scabbards. The fact that the sword inside it is inscribed with the character “一” (ichi, meaning “one”) tells us that it was forged by the smiths of the Ichimonji school, which flourished in the southeast of present-day Okayama Prefecture during the 13th century. Although Japanese swords have been treasured since ancient times, their scabbards and fittings tended to suffer damage due to use, and most are later-period recreations. The Uesugi Tachi, however, is a priceless work that has come down to us almost unchanged since its creation in the 13th century.

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