Japanese Fragmented Naginata, Glued (20.25 inches)

Date: c. 1700s - 1800s CE
Edo or Meiji Era

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Item Description:

This is a fragmented naginata blade, which was meant to be affixed to the end of a wooden pole. It is quite long and measures 20.25 inches in length.

The fragments have been glued together with metal braces and Paraloid B-72, an acrylic resin used in conservation that is able to be completely removed with acetone, denatured alcohol, or other solvents. The glued joints are fragile and the piece should be handled with care.

The naginata is a traditional Japanese weapon consisting of a curved blade mounted on a long pole. Its origins can be traced back to around the 8th century CE, when it was used by female members of the samurai class to defend their homes and families. Over time, the naginata evolved into a weapon of war, used by both male and female samurai in battle. During the Edo period (1603-1868), the naginata lost its military importance and became primarily a tool for martial arts training and competition. Today, the naginata is still practiced as a martial art and is also used in ceremonial and cultural contexts. 

A fighting monk with a naginata in hand

In this photo from 1895, a man is dressed as a "fighting monk" from the Kamakura period (1185 - 1333) with a naginata in hand.

Katana, wakizashi, and tantō: what's the difference?

These three types of Japanese swords are perhaps the most recognizable outside of Japan. The katana is a longsword first developed in the 14th century, with most examples having a 25 to 30 inch blade. They were typically carried as a matched set with their shorter counterpart, the wakizashi. These shorter sidearms usually had blades around 12 to 14 inches long. The dagger-like tantō was an even smaller sidearm with a 6 to 12 inch blade, making them well suited for close up combat.

Why were these swords cut into pieces?

These swords were most likely destroyed after Japan passed strict weapon laws in the 1950's. Under the new law, all mass produced swords were banned and traditionally crafted swords became highly regulated. People who owned antique swords were required to obtain a permit in order to keep them, a costly and time consuming process. Unfortunately this drove many people to cut their swords' blades down to less than 15 centimeters long, which made them legal to own without a permit.

How are these swords authenticated?

There are many details found on antique Japanese swords that are lacking in modern reproductions. Real handmade swords have a grain visible on the steel and a temper line called a hamon along the cutting edge of the blade. The dark rust on the tang helps to date the blade as well, as it can only be acquired with age.

The source is always an important consideration when authenticating any historical items too. We worked with an antique sword dealer in Japan to import these directly to the United States. Many of these pieces may have once been family heirlooms or were recovered after being put away in storage for decades, often hidden away in more rural areas which helped them avoid the bombings and Allied sword confiscations of World War II. Due to the sheer amount of swords produced by Japan over the last few centuries, many lower grade examples are surprisingly affordable.

All purchases include a Certificate of Authenticity. You will receive the exact items shown in the product photos above.

Our original glass and leatherette display boxes showcase your relic above a custom information card, with a design unique to History Hoard.

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