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Old 29th January 2023, 11:46 AM   #1
fernando
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Default 2.3-meter sword found in 4th-century tomb in Japan

The sword is the oldest of the dako swords, distinguished by their wavy, snake-like shapes, which give rise to their name. As burial goods, more than 80 other dako swords have been discovered throughout Japan.
The latest sword has markings of a sheath and handle, and together, its length measures 2.6 meters, more than dominating the last longest dako sword discovered at around 85 cm.

The shield-shaped mirror is 64 cm in length, 31 cm in width at most, and weighs 5.7 kilograms. Typically, bronze mirrors that are found at archaeological sites are rounded, but this one is shield-shaped.

“(These discoveries) indicate that the technology of the Kofun period (300-710 AD) are beyond what had been imagined, and they are masterpieces in metalwork from that period,” said Kosaku Okabayashi, the deputy director for Nara Prefecture’s Archaeological Institute of Kashihara.

Mirror and shields are considered to be tools to protect the dead from evil spirits. The sword is thought to have been enlarged to increase its power, and the possibility of its use as a battle tool is low, researchers said.

The 109-m-diameter Tomio Maruyama burial mound, the largest in Japan and dating to the late 4th century, is believed to have belonged to a significant person who supported the Yamato rulers at the time.
The burial chamber where the discoveries were made is thought to have belonged to someone close to that person, according to Naohiro Toyoshima, an archaeology professor at Nara University. He also said that the ritualistic sword and the shield-shaped mirror may indicate that the individual was involved in military and ritualistic matters.

Cover Photo: Photo taken on Dec. 5, 2022, shows a sword discovered at the Tomio Maruyama burial mound in Nara, western Japan. (Photo courtesy of Nara city board of education)(Kyodo).


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Old 29th January 2023, 10:28 PM   #2
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Thanks, Fernando!
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Old 30th January 2023, 05:29 AM   #3
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Amazing!
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Old 3rd February 2023, 06:33 PM   #4
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This has really piqued my curiosity (imagine that!) and beyond the detail that Fernando gratefully included from the news detail, I can find nothing further on this particular type of sword in Japan.

There appears to be a ceremonial sword known as 'ODACHI' which seems to be a larger ++++ version of the tachi type among the scope of Japanese swords.
One of these I found online was the 'Norimitsu' odachi.....and seems to be more a testament to the sword makers craftmanship than any actual intent for use.
This was an astounding 3.77 meters long (13ft.!!) and the blade is of course just over half that length. This thing weighs in at 15 lbs!

It seems of course that this sword found in the tomb, said to be a 'dako' is one of some 80 other examples known, and it would seem was entirely votive
in this case. It is said this is the largest of this type known, so I am wondering if the other examples were funerary as well. The large mirror was apparently also added to protect the interred from evil.
The size of the sword was said to increase its ability to fight evil forces.

The case for the serpentine blade seems to have been employed in other 'dramatic' blades which seem to have symbolic value in a number of sword blades in both Japan and China in these ancient times.

Hoping that someone out there might have informed insights into these unusually large swords in Japan and China. I recall years ago that Scott Rodell had a huge Chinese sword which was 6-7 ft. long, but have to go through old "Seven Stars" catalogs to check.
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Old 5th February 2023, 12:58 PM   #5
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Default Further ... i guess.

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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
...The case for the serpentine blade seems to have been employed in other 'dramatic' blades which seem to have symbolic value in a number of sword blades in both Japan and China in these ancient times...
"The sword, which is around 2.3 metres in length has a slightly bent blade like a snake, a typical example of a “dakoken” sword related to the worship of the snake god. The sword is the largest discovered intact in Japan, with experts suggesting that it had a ceremonial purpose to ward off evil.
The archaeologists are yet to open the wooden coffin, but believe that its contents remain intact as there is no evidence of grave robbing. The team plan to study the coffin’s contents at a later date, with the sword and mirror currently undergoing restoration.
Seigo Wada, Director of the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Archaeology, told Asia & Japan Watch “I wonder about the status of the person buried with the objects, as the individual was interred with a very unusual sword and mirror. There is a high expectation for the study of the contents of the coffin.”


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Old 5th February 2023, 06:10 PM   #6
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Thank you for this update Fernando, and again for posting this in the first place.
It is always exciting to have insights into many archaeological finds which contain weapons, as it reveals what weapons were in use at a particular time, place and often reveals forms in situ in a distinct 'time capsule'.

Seeing this kind of a phenomenal weapon seems to give us perspective in looking into many legends and even myths in which seemingly dramatically embellished descriptions of weapons seemed virtually unlikely, if not impossible.
Thinking of 'Paul Bunyan' like tall tales and exaggerations, which were of course just that, but at more reachable level such as the swords of legendary heroes, we find that (paraphrasing) " yes, there might be giants".

I recall researching a legendary sword of a Scottish hero in the 17th century alleged to have had a huge sword with a sliding weight (of 10 lbs?) to add impetus to a blow. A prudent author was asking to confirm if such a sword was even possible let alone if it existed.
Naturally I went through the whole two hander (claymore) notion, and in particular the notion of sliding weights on blades. Nothing of course ever surfaced, but many interesting variations in arms lore were found.
The actual sword in question was eventually found, and indeed was much more mundane, simply a basket hilt before the 'Loch Ness syndrome' enhancement.
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Old 5th February 2023, 06:35 PM   #7
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Moving a short step from speculation to fantasy, I recall reading, in a book by Gene Wolfe, of a sword used for beheading that contained within it a slug of mercury, with the similar intent of adding force to the blow. I doubt it would be possible in the so-called real world.

Back to the Japanese find, one wonders whether the unearthing of these protective items will have nullified their effect in the plane of their presumed operation? Splendid tombs have their uses, but providing eternal rest seems not to be one.
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Old 5th February 2023, 08:02 PM   #8
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Well noted Bob! The mercury channel myth in blades, which seems to have been perpetuated for centuries, with the notion of adding impetus to the cut of the blade. Im not much on physics, but I think this notion looked better on paper.
It even carried into the 17th century with the legendary 'Hollow Sword Blades' in England . This actually referred to the ground 'hollow' faces of the blade, not a channel for mercury etc.
The myth even made in into the tales of Bowie knife lore etc.

The channeled blades that were known in Persia, China and India holding 'pearls' (mostly bearing type orbs) that moved in accord with movement of the blade.
Strictly decorative and likely compromising the integrity of the blade for battle.

With the note on the viability of these funerary embellishments as protective, naturally apocryphal. The so called 'curse of the pharoahs' in Egyptian tombs was created by a creative journalist, and grew into a full scale legend. There was no curse in these tombs, at least certainly not in the manner that gained popular belief.

"..blessed be the man that spares these stones. And cursed be he that moves my bones".
- William Shakespeare epitaph

This may have inspired the journalist creating 'a tantalizing story' . Literary license is the bane of the historian and scholar studying historic matters.
Beliefs and Faith are things that cannot be proven or disproven empirically but their study indeed is very much on a different plane.
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