Diagrams of Parts of the Japanese Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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For a lengthy glossary of terms see here: sword-site.com/thread/546/japanese-glossary-sword-terms







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Japanese Glossary of Sword Terms – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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For diagrams of the part of a Japanese Sword see here: sword-site.com/thread/547/diagrams-parts-japanese-sword

AIKUCHI
Aikuchi (literally “fitting mouth”) is a form of koshirae mounting for Japanese tanto blades (up to 30cm) in which the handle and the scabbard meet without a guard in between. 

ARA-NIE
Name given for large coarse Nie. Nie are martensite crystals that are formed during the heating and quenching process. Nie are crystals that are large enough to be viewed as individual particles.

ASHI 
Projections or short lines of soft steel that run from the border of the hamon (patterns of Nie or Nioi) to the edge of the blade. Literal translation is “Leg or Foot”.

AYASUGI
A pattern of grain (Hada) forming regular wavy lines used mostly by the Gassan and Satsuma Naminohira schools. 

BOHI
Wide groove almost filling the shinogi surface.

BONJI
Sanscrit characters occasionally carved onto the blade surface. 

BOSHI
The shape of temper line in the point of the sword. 

BO-UTSURI
Straight faint mirror like reflections of the temper line.

BUSHIDO
Literal translation: “Military-Knight-Ways”. An unwritten code of moral principles which the knights (Samurai) were required or instructed to observe. Inazo Nitobe wrote BUSHIDO: The Soul of Japan in 1900 which is a recommended book for those interested in learning more about BUSHIDO.

CHIKEI
Term used for a bright curved line (such as Nioi) that occurs in ji (grain body of the sword).

CHOJI
Hamon (temper line) that is in the shape of cloves. Typical swords in the Bizen tradition feature temper lines with choji. 

CHOJI-MIDARE
Term given for a clove-shaped temper line mixed with irregular shapes.

CHU-KISSAKI
Chu means ‘middle”. This is a term for a blade point of medium length in proportion to the width of the blade near the tang. 

CHU-SUGUBA
Chu means ‘middle”. This is a term given for a hamon (temper line) that is straight with medium width.

DAISHO
This is a matched pair of swords (typically a katana and wakizashi with koshirae mountings). Only Samurai carried a daisho.

DAITO
That A [sic] long sword. Literally a large sword.

FUKURA
The cutting edge of the sword point.

FUKURE
Flaws

FUMBARI 
A term used to describe a blade which becomes noticeably wider as it approaches the hilt. A feature of Koto blades.

FURISODE
A tang shape with the end deeply curved toward the back side which resembles a kimono sleeve.

GAKUMEI
The signature removed from the original tang and inserted into the shortened tang.

GINSUJI
A silvery color kinsuji line in the temper line (yakiba).

GISHI
A man of Rectitude. Rectitude is the power of deciding upon a certain course of conduct in accordance with reason, without wavering – to die when it is right to die, to strike when to strike is right.” (Inazo Nitobe, BUSHIDO, The Soul of Japan, p. 46)

GUNOME
A type of Hamon (temper) resembling regular half circles.

GUNOME-MIDARE
An irregular mixture of ragged gunome.

GUNTO
A general terms for swords with military mountings. 

HA
The cutting edge of the sword. 

HABAKI
The collar around the blade above the tang to fit the blade securely into the scabbard. 

HA-BUCHI
The border line between the Ji and the Yakiba.

HADA
The surface grain of the blade. There are many types and more than one type can be on the same blade. 

HAGANE
Steel used to make a Japanese sword (may also be referred to as tamahagane, the raw steel)

HAGIRI
A flaw where the blade edge is cracked entirely through the edge of the blade at a right angle to the edge.

HAKIKAKE
A feature of the tempered edge in which Nie appear in a swept or brush-stroke pattern.

HAKO BA
A box shaped Hamon.

HAMACHI
The edge notch where the blade joins the tang. 

HAMON
The temper line. 

HANDACHI
A katana with partly Tachi mountings. 

HI
Grooves cut into the sword. 

HIRA
Flat surface of the blade.

HIRA-ZUKURI
A blade shape which is flat without shinogi ridges.

HITATSURA
Name given to a blade with a hamon (temper line) pattern known as full temper. The blade tends to resemble a tiger.

HITSU ANA
One or two holes in the sword guard (Tsuba) through which the kozuka and/or kogai are inserted into pockets in the scabbard.

HORIMONO
A general term for carvings on the blade surface. Here is a wakizashi by Nobukuni that features Bonji, which is Horimono

IHORI-MUNE
Two surface shape to the mune (back edge) of the blade.

IKUBI-KISSAKI
A short and stubby point said to resemble the neck of a wild boar.

INAZUMA
Lightening shaped bright lines in the Yakiba or the Hada.

ITAME HADA
Wood grain pattern in the surface steel.

JI
The surface of the blade between the Yakiba and the Shinogi. 

JIHADA
Surface texture. The various patterns of Hada. 

JI-NIE
The presence of Nie in the Ji.

JINJA
A shrine (jinja) is a sacred place where kami live, and which show the power and nature of the kami. It’s conventional in Japan to refer to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples – but Shinto shrines actually are temples, despite not using that name. Every village and town or district in Japan will have its own Shinto shrine, dedicated to the local kami.

KAEN
A flame shaped boshi pattern.

KAERI
The shape of the turn back of the boshi pattern.

KAI GUNTO
Term used to descrive modern Japanese Naval swords.

KAJI
A swordsmith

KAKU-MUNE
A square shape to the back of the Mune.

KAMI
Shinto is based on belief in, and worship of, Kami or ‘spirits’. Kami can be elements of the landscape or forces of nature. For a well produced background on Kami, please visit the BBC website here.

KANJI
Chinese writing characters used in Japan. Our calligraphy artist Houso Oguri produces lovely Kanji artwork that you can see here.

KANTEI
The study and appraisal of Japanese swords.

KASANE
General term for the thickness of the blade.

KATANA
The general term for a long sword (2-shaku) 60.6cm or greater, worn cutting edge up through the sash. 

KATANA KAJI
Swordsmith. 

KATANA MEI
Name given to the signature on the side of the tang which is AWAY from the body when the blade is worn with the cutting edge up.

KATANA TOGISHI
A sword polisher. Here is a photo of a sword polisher’s workshop in Kamakura, Japan.

KATANA KAKE
A sword stand horizontal display.

KATAKIRIBA
A sword shape with a ridgeline on one side only and the other side flat.

KEN
Straight sword which is double edged.

KENGYO
A butt end of the tang with a symmetrical V-shape.

KINSUJI
Whitish golden lines along or in the Yakiba.

KISSAKI
The point of the blade. Many shapes. 

KITAE
The style of forging.

KIZU
Various flaws or defects in a blade. Literal translation: “cut or scratch”.

KODACHI
Term given to short tachi blades usually 60.6cm or less from the Kamakura period.

KODOGU
This is the collective term for all the fittings except the Tsuba.

KOGAI
A hair arranger which fits into a pocket in the scabbard and is withdrawn through the tsuba (Hitsu Ana). 

KOJIRI
Fitting on the bottom end of the scabbard. 

KO-KISSAKI
A blade point of short length in proportion to the width of the blade near the tang.

KOMARU
A small round boshi.

KO-MOKUME
Small wood burl grain Hada.

KO-NIE
Tiny Nie (Martinsite) crystals along the Hamon.

KOSHIRAE
Sword mountings including scabbard, fittings, and handle. 

KOSHI-ZORI
A type of blade curve which has the maximum curve point nearer the tang than the middle.

KOTO
Old swords. Usually means swords made before 1596.

KO-WAKIZASHI
A short wakizashi.

KOZUKA
Small utility knife which fits into the pocket in the scabbard. 

KURI-JIRI
Chestnut shaped tang end. 

KURIKATA
Knob on the side of the scabbard for the belt cord.

MACHI
Notches in the blade to stop the Habaki. Edge side is the Hamachi; back side is the Munemachi.

MACHI OKURI
When the notches have been moved up the blade.

MAKI ITO
The braid for wrapping handles.

MARU-DOME
The round end of a groove.

MARU MUNE
Rounded back edged of the blade.

MASAME-HADA
Straight grain

MEI
Signature.

MEKUGI
The peg holding the handle on the sword. 

MEKUGI-ANA
The hole for the Mekugi. 

MENUKI
Ornaments under the handle wrapping to improve the grip. 

MIDAREBA
Irregular Hamon patterns.

MIDARE-CHOJI
Irregular clove shapes in the Hamon.

MIHABA
The general term for the width of a sword blade (from the back edge to the cutting edge). 

MITSU MUNE
Term for a three surface back edge of the blade.

MIZUKAGI
This is the white diagonal stripe at the base of a retempered blade.

MOKUME-HADA
A burl wood grain Hada (body).

MONO-UCHI
This is the striking area of the blade, generally 12-16cm inches below the point (Kissaki). 

MOROHA
This is a doubled-edged sword.

MOTOHABA
This is the width of the blade measured at the Habaki (collar of the blade).

MUMEI
A blade without a signature. 

MUNE
The back edge of the blade. 

MUNE MACHI
The notch in the back of the blade to stop the Habaki.

MUNEYAKI
This is the term for a temper pattern along the back edge of the blade.

MUSORI
A blade without curvature (sori). 

NAGAMAI
A type of koshirae used on a Naginata in the late Kamakura and early Muromachi periods . It came from the fact that the hilt for the long blade was wrapped with a cord or a leather strip wound around it.

NAGASA
The length of the blade. 

NAGINATA
A long hafted sword, wielded in large sweeping strokes. This is a sword blade of one of several similar shapes that was used attached to a long pole. It is also referred to as a polearm.

NAKAGO
The tang of the blade. The part of the blade that fits into the handle.

NAKAGO JIRI
A general term used for the butt end of the tang. 

NAKAGO MUNE
The back edge of the tang.

NAMBAN TETSU
General term for foreign steel.

NAMBOKUCHO
The period of the Northern and Southern dynasties, ~1333 to 1392. Here is a Nobukuni wakizashi from the Nambokucho period.

NAOSHI
Corrected or repaired.

NIE
Martensite crystals formed during the heating and quenching process. Nie are crystals which are large enough to be viewed as individual particles.

NIOI
The same as Nie except that these particles are too small to be discernible to the naked eye and appear like a mist or fog.

NOTARE
A term refering to a Hamon outline that is wavelike. 

O-CHOJI
Hamon of large choji patterns.

OMOTE
The side of the sword away from the body as it is worn. The opposite side is called the ura or back.

ORIGAMI
A certificate of appraisal.

ORIKAESHI-MEI
Blade signature folded into the opposite of the tang when the blade is shortened.

OSHIGATA
A rubbing of the inscription on the tang. Here is an example of an Oshigata on a certificate.

O-SURIAGE
A shortened sword losing all or most of the original tang.

O-WAKIZASHI
Longer Wakizashi, almost 2-shaku (60.6cm) in length.

SAGEO
The cord or braid attached to the Kurikata on one side of the scabbard. 

SAIHA
Term given for a re-tempered edge.

SAKA-CHOJI
Choji shapes slanting down toward the base of the blade.

SAKI-HABA
The width of the blade at the Kissaki (point of the blade). 

SAKI-ZORI
Curvature of the blade with the more pronounced curve toward the point.

SAME
Patch of skin from a ray fish used on sword handles and sometimes on scabbards. 

SAMURAI
Samurai warriors were the elite of four classes of Japanese feudal society; samurai, farmers, craftsmen, and then merchants. The samurai were expected to bring security to the members of the other three classes. The term, samurai, is 
a derivative of the Japanese verb for service, “saburau”. Samurai literally means “one who is a servant”, and that is how they began, as ‘servants’ to Emperor Tenmu back in the 7th century.
Samurai were inspired by Bushido “Military-Knight-Ways” is an unwritten code of moral principles which the knights (samurai) were required or instructed to observe. Bushido made the sword its emblem of power and prowess. The very possession of such an instrument imparts to him a feeling and an air of self-respect and responsibility. What he carries in his belt is a symbol of what he carries in his mind and heart, – loyalty and honor.

SANBONSUGI
A “three-tree” type pattern Hamon (temper line). Swordsmith Kanemoto of Mino province (modern-day Gify prefecture) was famous for this.

SAYA
The scabbard or sheath. 

SEPPA
The washers used to fill the space between the tsuba and the sword. 

SEPPUKU
Literal translation: “stomach-cutting”. Known also as Hara-kiri. A form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. A good article can be read here.

SHAKU
The Japanese unit of measurement equaling 30.3cm (11.93 inches). A tanto measures less than 1 shaku, a wakizashi measures between 1 and 2 shaku, and a katana is 2 shaku or more in length.
1 shaku = 30.30cm (11.93 inches)
1 shaku = 10 sun
1 sun = 3.03cm (1.193 inches)
1 sun = 10 bu
1 bu = .3030cm (0.119 inches)
1 bu = 10 rin
1 rin = .03030cm (0.01193 inches)

SHINAE
Small cracks cross-ways in a blade. A flaw.

SHINOGI
Ridges on each side of the blade. 

SHINOGI-ZUKURI
These are swords made with a ridge line, the most prevalent type of sword. 

SHINTO
These are ‘New swords’. Swords produced between 1596 and about 1800.

SHINTOISM
The essence of Shinto is the Japanese devotion to invisible spiritual beings and powers called kami, to shrines, and to various rituals. Shinto has no known founder or single sacred scripture.
Shinto is wholly devoted to life in this world and emphasises man’s essential goodness. For a well produced background on Shintoism.

SHIN-SHINTO
Literal translation: “New, new swords.” Swords between 1800 and 1870.

SHIRASAYA
White wooden scabbard usually made from Japanese ‘Honoki’ wood. 

SHOWA-TO
These are handmade blades made after 1926.

SORI
The term for the curvature of the sword. 

SUGUBA
This is a sword with a straight Hamon paralleling the edge curve. 

SUN
The Japanese measure for one-tenth of a shaku.
1 shaku = 30.30cm (11.93 inches)
1 shaku = 10 sun
1 sun = 3.03cm (1.193 inches)
1 sun = 10 bu
1 bu = .3030cm (0.119 inches)
1 bu = 10 rin
1 rin = .03030cm (0.01193 inches)

SUNAGASHI
Sweeping lines along the Hamon like floating sand ridges.

SUN-NOBI
Longer than average Wakizashi or Tanto.

SURIAGE
A shortened blade. Generally performed from the base of the blade by cutting the Nakago.

TACHI
The general term for swords slung blade down, carried mainly on horseback. Tachi swords were mainly produced during the Heian period (794 to 1185) and the Kamakura period (1185–1333)

TACHI KAKE
This is a sword rack or stand for a Tachi.

TACHI MEI
This is the name given to a sword whose signature (mei) is on the side of the tang which is away from the body when the blade is worn slung with the cutting edge down.

TAMESHIGIRI
Term given to the cutting test on a sword.

TANTO
Short daggers less than one shaku in length (30.3cm).

TOGI
Polish on a sword.

TORII ZORI
The curvature of the sword with the deepest part in the center of the blade.

TSUBA
A sword guard.

TSUKA
A sword handle (hilt).

TSUKA ITO
The braid for wrapping handle, normally made of silk.

TSUKA MAKI
The sword handle wrapping.

TSUNAGI
This is the term for the ‘mirror’ wooden sword that keeps the Koshirae intact when the blade is in the Shirasaya.

UBU NAKAGO
An original unaltered tang.

UCHIZORI
A type of curve that bends slightly towards, rather than away from, the cutting edge.

URA
The side of the sword next to the body when the sword is worn.

UTSURI
A misty reflection found on the ji and shinoji of swords of every possible type of surface grain. These faint lines appear to reflect the Hamon.

WAKIZASHI
Medium length sword between one and two feet. See available Wakizashi swords here.

WARI KOGAI
A kogai split to form chopsticks.

YAKIBA
The tempered surface along the edge.

YAKIDASHI
The end section of the Hamon near the tang.

YAKINAOSHI
Retempered blades.

YARI
A spear.

YASURI ME
File marks on the tang.

YOKOTE
The line separating the blade portion of the sword from the point portion. 

YUUKI
(勇気). A quote from Prince Mito: 揑t is true courage to live when it is right to live, and to die only when it is right to die.�As titled in Chapter IV, BUSHIDO by Inazo Nitobe 揅ourage, the spirit of daring and bearing.

ZAIMEI
A tang with signature. Visit our page with detailed information on parts of a Japanese sword.

ZEN
Japanese equivalent for the Dhyana, which “represents human effort to reach through meditation zones of thought beyond the range of verbal expression.” (Lafcadio Hearn, Exotics and Retrospectives, p. 84)

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Oakeshott Type XIX – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

There are a great number of surviving swords of this type, nearly all of them having blade as alike as peas in a pod, and all seeming to have come from the same workshop,. Nearly every surviving specimen bears upon it an Arabic inscription in Nashki script, stating that it was deposited in the Hall of Victories in the Arsenal at Alexandria. Most of these were removed to Constantinople by the Turks, at some time between 1517 and 1935! Now most are in the Askeri Museum in Istanbul, but a few escaped and are in European and N. American collections.
The blades of these Type XIX’s are of a form which until comparatively recently would have been considered not possibly to date earlier that c. 1550, because of their strong, short ricassos and their clean, flat hexagonal section. The ricassos are defined by neatly engraved grooves on each side, coming to a sort of cusp at the lower end against the deep, narrow fuller.
One of these swords which, in addition to a 16th century-looking blade has a single finger-ring below the cross of (style 5), has been published very often, but I have included it here in company with two which as far as I know have never been published. It reside in the Royal Armouries at the Tower of London, and its Arabic inscription gives a date (for its deposition in the Arsenal, not its making) of 1432. There is an almost identical one in Istanbul, with a style 8 cross, and a finger-ring. There are also four others in the Askeri Museum with finger-rings, one with curious flat oval pommel with a small circular recess int he middle. One which i have not shown here, in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, is particularly interesting because it bears a date of 1368. This, too, is not the date of its making, which (as an example of a type) can be put back to c. 1350, this giving a very useful early terminus post quem for a very distinctive sword-type.

XIX. 1

Type: XIX
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 36′ (91.4cms)
Pommel-type: J, recessed
Cross-style: 8
Date: 1380-1400
Condition: Very nearly perfect. When I saw it in 1986 it had still a smooth brown ‘indoor’ patina on it, not having had the oils and dust of the Alexandria Arsenal scrubbed off it. A most elegant, hand, sword, well-balanced though the point of balance is toward the point. The shape of these blades, with their gentle taper, is more akin to the old XIIIa blades of the 13th century. This sword is perhaps the supreme, for elegance, condition and quality, of this type.

XIX. 6

Type: XIX
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Madrid, Insituto de Valencia de Don Juan
Blade-length: 32″ (81.2cms)
Cross-style: Late, unclassified, complex
Pommel-type: A
Date: c.1460-80
Condition: Very nearly pristine. The original grip, wood covered with brown leather, survives. There is little very mild pitting scattered over the otherwise undamaged surfaces of the blade. There is a only a little wear on the gold damascened decoration (Hispano-Moresque style) on the pommel and cross. The plain gilding on the arms of the hilt and the two short ‘prongs’ sticking out in front is worn through in one or two place. [sic] there is a lettered inscription on the blade which CATHALDO. (ii). This type of hilt -very well developed for its period – shown very often in art, particularly in the paintings by Nuno Goncalves of grandees at the court of Alfonso V of Portugal in the period c.1450-65.
Publication: Laing, op.cit. vol.I: vol.I; Puricelli-Guerra, Arturo, Armi in Occidente, Milano, 1966, No.25. (This shows a beautiful colour photograph of the hilt and upper part of the blade.) Blair, C. EAA, No.51.

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Oakeshott Type XVIII – XVIIIa Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

This type is the very quintessence of the true, age-old cut and thrust fighting sword; its form nd function goes back to the Middle Bronze ge of c.1000 B.C. Relatively light (its average weight, for is short-hilted version of Type XVIII, is about 2lbs) with enough breadth at the point of percussion (or as someone in Denmark once put it, the Optimal Striking Point) to deliver a totally effective cut, yet below this the blade tapers sharply to a very acute point, perfectly capable of a very lethal thrust. In nearly every case, too, the section is of flattened diamond form with a sharp longitudinal mid-rib, making the blade nice and stiff.
This type of blade, in steel not necessarily bronze, goes back into pre-history or very nearly. Manyo f the fine steel blade os the La Tene culture are of the form, generally about 28″ to 30″ long and about 2″ wide at the hilt (71 cmns [sic] to 76 cms, and 5.7cms. Lying on my table as aI write this is a typical Type XVIII blade from a a Spanish grave which dates from c.200-150B.C. – a typical weapon of Hannibal’s Spanish cavalry units. In the Nationalmuseet in Copenhagen a Roman cavalry spatha, perhaps a century later, which is also so much a typical XVIII that it might well be taken to date c.1450 A.D. It probably would be, if came up for sale in one of the great sale-rooms without a reliable provenance attached to it.
It is perhaps curious that the form, obviously so popular in the Celtic and Roman Iron Age, went out of use in favour of the broad, flat slashing blades of Type X to XIV, form c.50 B.C. – A.D. 50 until the late 14th century of our era. I firmly believe that i was the forms and developments of defensive armour during those fourten centuries which determined the form of the sword’ blade. Once complete and effective plate armour came into general use, something difference was essential, hence Type XV, XVI, XVII and XVIII. Even so, there is a great deal of sound literary evidence in the chronicle, poem and prose history – or what , in the case of the incomparable Froissart, was historical novelism – that swords were virtually useless against a fully armoured man-at-arms. The axe, mace, hammer, pick and poll-axe became the favoured knightly weapon. Even so, the sword remained an essential, primary weapon of honour and prestige, and from the late 14th century until the mid-19th, blades of the his XVIII and XVIIIa form were the most commonly used. The type lasted perhaps longest in the broadswords of the Scottish HIghlanders, the basker-hilted so-called ‘Claymore’ of the 18th century.
There are 3 sub-types for XVIII (see diagram) because this was so useful and popular a form of sword. XVIIIa denatoes a larger XVIII with alonger blade, oftern with a 1/3 length fuller, and a long grip, while XVIIIb is a very long-ripped Bastard sword, while XVIIIc is a shorter gripped one.
THe word ‘Bastard’ sword (generally referred to in English contexts as
hand-and-half sword’ was applied in the 15th/16th centuries to these long-gripped weapons. This usage is well attested by a remark in a treatise o the 17th century by one Marc de Vulson in his Vray Theatre d’Honneur. Describing a duel fought in 1549 before Henry II of France he says of the weapons used ‘Deux epees batardes, pouvant servir a une main ou a deux (‘two bastard swords able to serve with one hand or with two.’)

XVIII. 2

Type: XVIII
Find-place: Near Nancy in France
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 29′ (73.7 cms)
Pommel-type: 1
Cross-style: 9
Date: c.1400-25
Condition: Excellent. Obviously preserved indoors, and cared for. The blade is of an unusual section, a very wide flat hexagon, for this type. INsilhouette, very like the Henry V sword.

XVIII. 10

Type: XVIII
Find-place: unknown
Collection: The late Mr E. A. Christensen. Formerly Spitzer. Now Nationalmuseet, Copenhage.
Blade-length: 35 3/8′ (90cms)
Pommel-type: 1
Cross-style: 11
Date: c.1400-50
Condition: Good. Not excavated. A church perhaps? The blade shows a close overall patina of largish pits, but the hilt of gilded bronze is an [sic] condition, including the shaped grip of wood bound with fine cord and covered with leather. There is a sword in the Swiss National Museum at Zurich (Inv. No. 6894) which would seem to be from the same workshop, and another similar one in Rome in the Odescalchi Collection (5.35, 196)
Publication: Hoffmeyer, Christensen and HOffmeye; Oakeshott, SAC.

XVIIIa.1

Type: XVIIa
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Formerly in the Wilczec Collection: now ?
Blade-length: About 35″ (88.8cms)
Pommel-type: J
Cross-style: 2
Date: C. 1400-40
Condition: Perfect. Obviously preserved in a house or armoury. The original grip of wood, bound with fine cord and covered with leather, survives intact. There is shield of arms in the pommel, engraved – a lion rampant. ON the blade there are two Passau ‘Running Wolf’ marks, and close up under the cross, a firmly impressed stamp of a daisy or marigold-like mark.
Note; This photograph was taken over half a century ago – more like a century – when it was still in Count Wilczec’s collection. It doesn’t seem to have been seen, or noted anywhere in publication since then. But is is an absolutely perfect example of the sub-type, and a very beautiful sword into the bargain. It has been suggested that it had belonged to the empereor Albrecht II in 1438/9.
Publication: Wilczec, Count, Die Erinnerungen eines Waffen-ammlers, 1903.

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Oakeshott Type XVII – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Ewart Oakeshott’s Records of the Medieval Sword

Type XVII

With the coming of this sword-type, we have reached the era of complete plate armour. Thought, of course, complete and homogeneous armour would not have been worn in its entirety, or even at all, by all men-at-arms, knights or otherwise. Mail, and occasional reinforcements of plate, or plain leather was often the only defense of the European man-at-arms. All the same, a type of sword had been devised to have some sort of capacity to deal with, at least to dent and hopefully to bore holes in, complete plate armour. These sword which I have classified as Type XVII had always a long hand-and-a-half grip, and a very stout blade of hexagonal section, occasionally with a shallow fuller, and often very heavy and always very rigid and stiff.
The first wo swords I show in this section are very familiar to me, and though their blades at least look extremely alike, there is a great difference in weight and balance. The first, XVII.1 is in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, where I frequently handle it, and the second, XVII.2, now in the Nationalmuseet in Copenhage, once hung upon my own wall. The Cambridge one is surprisingly light and responsive in the and, weighing only just over 2lbs; but the one I had is heavy, even clumsy – a sort of bar of iron, point-heavy and needing a lot of strength to use.
There are many survivors of this type, nearly all of them alike and most not all that handsome. I have shown a few representative examples of a very large class of survivors, those which for some reason seem more interesting (such as those which have long ‘ricassos’ than the general run of what is on whole rather a boring type.

XVII.1

Type: XVII
Find-place: The River Great Ouse at Ely in Cambridgeshire
Collection: The Fitxwilliam Musem, Cambridge
Blade-length: 36″ (82cms)
Pommel-type: T.2
Cross-style: 1, curved
Date: c.1370-1400
Condition: River-found. Almost perfect beneath the smooth, richly dark patina of Goethite. There is no significant pitting in any part. On the tang is stamped a large lombardic letter B and on the blade, in the shallow fuller, is a little dagger-mar inlaid in latten (or possibly, gold?
Publication: Redfern, W.B. ‘Some Choice Sword-Hilts’, Connoisseur, 1923, Laking, vol. I; Oakeshott, AOW; Oakeshott, SAC; Oakeshott ‘Arms and Armour in the Fitzwilliam Museum’, Appolo 1987.
This is a superb sword, in perfect condition, and is the leading example of what has come to be called the ‘Sempach’ family of swords, after two which were found in 1898 in the graces of two of the Austrian knights, Friedrich von Tarant and Friedrich von Griddenstein, who fell in the battle fought near Sempach (near Zurich) in 1386. Similar dagger-marks are to be seen (a) on superb XIIa sword (No. XIIa.2 above) in an English private collection and (b) on the great -two-hand sword of Edward III in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor. This dates c.1350, and the former from perhaps as early as 1300. Similar, though no identical, dagger-marks appear on the Sempach swords from the abbey of Konigsfield, and on a TYpe XVIII sword (XVIII.5 below) in an English private collection, and on another sword of the same ‘family’ found in the lake of Neuchatel. (XVII.7)
This sword in Cambridge, as familiar to me now in 1989 as if it was in my own collection is quite surprisingly light, and is beautifully balanced and ‘ready’ in the hand.
There is a legend, written in horrible white paint, and the side of the blade not shown outward, to the effect that it was found ‘in 1845 in the River Cam at Ely’. This is a geographical impossibility. The river at Ely is the Great Ouse; the Came joins it about 4 miles above Ely, so if it was found in the CAm, it wasn’t at Ely; if it was found at Ely, it wasn’t int he Cam; but it doesn’t matter. The mud of both rivers has the same excellent preservative properties, and a difference of a few miles makes no difference to the sword’s excellence. The only difference perhaps is that a Ely the river could, even in the late 14th century, be approached in order to throw a sword in; but where the Cam joins it, in those days it was all marsh and impenetrable scrub land.
It was in a great private collection, owned by an industrialist named Redfern, until it was bought by the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museuam in 1947, and has always before been published as the Redfern Sword. A pity, it should be the Ely Sword, but I supose [sic] it is now too well established under its ephemeral collector’s name to be altered.


XVII.5

Type: XVII
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Formerly Mr. E.A Christensen; now Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen
Blade-length: 36&1/2″ (92.7 cms)
Pommel-type: H.2
Cross-style: 2
Date: C. 1380-1420
Condition: Excellent. Indoor (armoury) preservation. There is an Arabic inscription in Nashki script on the blade giving a date of A.D. 1436-7. There is a cross poten inlaid in copper in the pommel. Perhaps the sword of a Templar – though by the probably date of its making, say 1380, the Templars had been destroyed for over 60 years. The grip is a modern replacement.
Publication: Christensen & Hoffmeyer, p.82, no.57; HOffmeyer, pl. XXe, p.17, no.27; Oakeshott, SAC pl.30b.

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Oakeshott Type XVI – XVIa – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

Type XVI – XVIa

It is possible, indeed, it seems inevitable, to suggest that this blade-form developed as a direct offensive answer to the newly-developed as a direct offensive answer to the newly-developed reinforced mail armour of the period 1300-1350. It is broad enough, and flat enough in section to provide an efficient cutting edge, but the lower part part below the end of the fuller is nearly always of a stiff flattened-diamond section with a strong median ridge, making it suitable for thrusting. Not all have this ridged lower blade, which makes it very difficult if not sometimes impossible to distinguish whether such a blade is XVI, or in fact a XIV; No. XVIa. 1 in this group is a case in point, its lower blade tapers strongly, though it is flat, but it has a very stout diamond-section reinforced point.
They are quite often shown in art. Sometimes, as in the two shown here at (iii) and (iv), from Italian early 14th century paintings at San Gimignano, they can be matched exactly by survivors – except that they are shown scabbarded. All we have to go on is the long, rather slender, tapering blades and long grips. Compare these two for instance, with the photograph of the hilt of No. XVI.2 belwo. A sculptured St. Peter at (v), from a roof-boss at Exeter Cathedral which can be dated to 1328 shows a perfect example of the type, closely matched by NO. XVI.3 below.

XVI. 1

Type: XVI
Find-place: London River, off Westemister opposter the HOuses of Parliament
Collection: Formerly the old London Museum, now the Royal Armouries IX.13
Blade-length: 27″ (68.6cms)
Pommel-type: 1
Cross-style: A long 7
Date: c.1300-25
Condition: River-found. Excellent some pitting and erosion of the edges near the point and below the cross. Compare this sword with the drawing of St Peter fromt he Exeter roof-boss, which was carved before 1328.
Publication: Dufty; Oakeshott, Catalogue of the Second Park Lane Arms Fair, Londong, 1983.

XVI. 2

Type: XVI
Find-place: unknown
Collection: Royal Armouries, IX. 1083 formerly D’Acre Edwards
Blade-length: 32″ (81.2cms) approximately
Pommel-type: J
Cross-style: 2
Date: c.1300-25
Condition: Excavated, almost certainly river-found. Very good though there is a lot of corrosion at the point-end of the blade. The cross is very slightly bent, up one arm and down the other. The metal of the cross is very stout, of square section, and it has always seemed to me when handling this sword that very shallow reverse curvature couldn’t have been made by accident; it must, I think, have been forged that way – though one cannot assume that, in the forging, the bend was deliberate. It is too shallow to have a ‘guarding’ effect like 16th century vertically recurved quillons; bu the process of forging a carefully sharped bar of of iron, with a slot in the middle is tricky business and an inadvertent bend could very easily occur. There is some distortion in the tang, too.
Publication: Dufty.

XVI.3

Type : XVI
Find-place: Unknown, but in Denmark
Collection: Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen
Blade-length: 30&1/8″ (76.5cms)
Pommel-type: T.1
Cross-style: 6
Date: c.1300-50
Condition: River-found? Excellent. The erosion on the edges of the blade is the result of wear and honing, not corrosion. The fuller bears a a near four-letter inscription inlaid in latten. This inscription is similar to that upon the blade of the big XIIIa in the Burrel Collection in Glasgow, shown here above at XIIIa.10.
There is a sword extremely similar to this – its hilt is identical though its blade is about 6″ long, in the Museum at Bern (inv. No.840). That one, however, has no inscription.
Publication: Hoffmeyer; Pl.XXXIId.2 p.34 no.1 Oakeshott, SAC pl.20b


XVIa.5

Type: XVIa
Find-place: ? Germany
Collection: The Royal Armouries. IX. 1084. Formerly D’ACre Edwards
Blade-length: 33″ (83.9 cms)
Pommel-type: K
Cross-style: 6
Date: c.1300-25
Condition: Excavated. ? River found. Good, but considerable erosion of the edges and some deep putting on the blade. The grip, of white wood, is modern, The shape of this sword should be compared with that of No.XVI.1 in this series. The fuller here is very narrow, but there is a distinct rib in the lower half of the blade.
Publication: Dufty, [sic]

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Oakeshott Type XIV – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

This is a very distinctive sword-type which by its incidence in works of art can be given a more than usually precise life-span between c.1275-1340. Its characteristics are a short grip and comparatively short blade which is broad at the hilt and tapers strongly to a sometimes very acute point with a generally flat section fullered in its upper half. Cross tend to be generally quite long and slightly arched, while the pommel-type most commonly found allied to the to these other elements is of Type K, broad and flat with small raised bosses.

Naturally, like all swords, their sizes vary; and we do not have very much hard archaeological evidence to go on, for, in spite of the type’s obvious popularity in the period of its usage, very few examples are so far available for study. Not so their appearance in works of art – sculpture, tomb-effigies, MS miniatures and early Italian paintings. When they are depicted in their scabbards, it is not possible to be certain that they are not of Type XV (q.v below) nut enough are shown naked to make dating secure. They appear only once or twice along with the more usual Type XII’s in the Maciejowski Bible (c.1260) as well as in the Oxford Romance of Alexander, an earlier English MS dated c.1333, where XIV’s are shown along with XIIIa’s, XII’s and XV’s.

XIV.3

Type: XIV
Find-place: Somewhere in Denmark
Collection: Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen
Blade-length: 28″ (71.1cms)
Pommel-type: R
Cross-style: 1, curved
Date: c.1300+ or -20
Condition: Excavated, probably from a bog. Poor, very corroded. Interesting double fuller.

XIV. 6

Type: XIV
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen. Ex collection E. A. Christensen
Blade-length: 33″ (83.9cms)
Pommel-type: K, factted
Cross-style: A curved, sophisticated and elegant form of 1
Date: c.1300
Condition: Perfect. Must have been preserved in a house or an armour or well-cared for. The grip is probably an original.
Publication: Christensen & Hoffmeyer

This is one of those perfectly preserved, sharp and shining medieval swords which are too easily condemned as being ‘too good to be true’. Considering that it was acquired about thirty years ago by a collector and connoisseur as astute and experienced as Mr. Christensen, there can’t be much validity in any doubts about its authenticity. It’s a big sword, as you can see from the dimensions upon the elaborate series of drawing [sic] Mr. Christensen sent me just after he had acquired the sword.
In the catalogue of his collection made before it went on his death to the Danish nation, he dates it at c.1475. (‘Gammelt Jern’, No.66, p.88), but I believe this is nearly two centuries too late. [sic] its whole form – pommel, cross and blade – are so strongly fitted into the classic XIV shape tha I am sure it has to be dated between c.1275-1325. It is an absolutely outstanding sword, and I think the sketches he sent me give a very clear idea of its size, and the rather unusual form of its long, beautifully made double fullers. Unfortunately, the only photographs I have are not very good.

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