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Inscription on a 16th century Japanese sword

I found the pics of this exquisite tachi on the website of the Kyoto National Museum. It is the work of Umatada Myouju, one of the most famous swordsmith of Japan s history. See the dragon, carved on the blade? This is indeed a masterpiece.

This is actually the back side of the sword. The signature of the master is on the front side, under the hilt (which was removed or lost):

ûؽ
The first character, MEI simply means signature. Then follows the name of province: YAMASHIRO, KUNI meaning here "province", then NISHIJIN, a district of Kyoto, where Umatada lived, JUUNIN "resident", and finally - his name.

On the back side, it is written:

¾ԲǷ
HATA E FUKA WATASU NO : "May not be given to others". Note that the kanji is used only phonetically. The incription means that the master made this sword for myself, or considered it as his best artwork and did not want give it away.

Well, that is the story. Sword inscriptions are usually not very poetic or philosophical. Surely the sword in medieval Japan was a cultic object, but its "use" during the WWII, and in some Western-made movies have destroyed its glory, if you know what I mean.


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