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Hirotsugu (active 1550)

Short sword (koshigatana) and scabbard blade, c.1550; mount 1650-1750

Steel, lacquered wood, shakudō, copper, gold leaf, silver | 4.3 cm (Width) x 4.6 cm (Depth); 79.1 cm (Length) (whole object) | RCIN 72783

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This was the first documented Japanese sword in Britain. It arrived in 1813, when it was thought to be ‘A Curious Old Sword of one of the Moorish Kings of Spain.’ The impressive fittings suggest it was mounted for export – boars, phoenixes and monkeys appear in a relief metalwork style known as sawasa, which was popular with the Dutch East India Company.