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Japan

Dagger (tantō) and scabbard dagger, c.1500; fittings, c.1868-71

Steel, lacquered wood, gold, ray skin, silk | 27.7 cm (blade length) | RCIN 62631

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The Emperor Meiji had many ancient blades, some as old as the Nara period (710–794), lavishly remounted for diplomatic gifts. He is said to have designed the fittings for this knife (tantō) himself. The flowering cherry blossoms on the scabbard are the finest quality gold makie (sprinkled) lacquer.