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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Culture: Japanese
Title: Kashira with floral motif
Date: Edo period, 19th century
Medium: Shibuichi
Dimensions: 1/4 x 1 3/8 x 5/8 in. (0.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 cm)
Credit Line: Memorial gift from the Estate of Charles W. Hay, Class of 1925
Object Number: 73.005.110
Label Text: BRIEF DESCRIPTION
This is one of a set of matching samurai sword fittings.

WHERE WAS IT MADE?
These sword fittings were made in Japan during the Edo period (1615-1868).

HOW WAS IT MADE?
These items were handcrafted from a variety of metal alloys, including a material known as shibuichi, an alloy of copper and silver that has a light or dark grey patina.

HOW WAS IT USED?
In most cases the fuchi and kashira form a pair, each made of metal and sharing a design. The kashira is placed at the base of the sword hilt. Traditionally, when the hilt of the sword is braided, the braid passes through the braid slot in the kashira to secure it from moving. The kashiraboth protects the braid from fraying and strengthens the hilt. The fuchiis placed at the other end of the hilt, and helps to tighten the hilt around the blade, preventing looseness and rattling.

WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THIS?
During the peaceful Edo period, sword fittings were seldom created for swords that were to be used in battle. Instead, these small fittings became a medium for artistic work, appreciated for their exquisite workmanship, variety of designs, and refined beauty. Whereas until around the 1650s, only a small number of motifs were typically used to decorate the sword fittings, in the following years of the Edo period the artists who made these fittings took inspiration from images in books, characters in folktales, and other popular cultural and natural motifs. Swords and their fittings served as status items for samurai. A sword owner would select motifs that expressed his tastes, values and interests. This particular set features a floral design.

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.