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Short Sword Mounting with Peony Metal Fittings and Plum-Blossom Ray Skin Scabbard
Important Cultural Property
Length: 55.0cm Curvature: 9.0cm Height: 46.0cm
Nanbokucho period/14th century
Kyoto National Museum
The decoration of weapons and armor was greatly emphasized during the Nanbokucho period, reflecting the wartime state of affairs. This short sword mounting is an important example of such ornamental display. The hilt is wrapped in polished silver-plated bronze and has an attached hilt collar of gilt bronze with openwork peony designs. The scabbard is wrapped in "plum-blossom ray skin," which has been covered with black lacquer and then polished to reveal its stippled grain. The kojiri, or tip of the scabbard, also bears a gilt bronze fitting with peonies in high relief. Ray skin or sturgeon skins from the South Seas were among the most valued materials in decoration of sword mountings. Among such fish skins, however, "plum-blossom ray skin," which reveals a plum blossom design when polished, was the most highly esteemed. This is a valuable example of a well-preserved Nanbokucho-period short sword mounting.