Cover image for The Japanese sword : the soul of the samurai
The Japanese sword : the soul of the samurai
Irvine, Gregory.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Trumbell, CT : Weatherhill, [2000]

Physical Description:
128 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
General Note:
Also published: London : Victoria & Albert Museum, 2000. (Far Eastern series).
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NK6784.A1 H37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Drawing on the Victoria and Albert Museum's magnificent collection, one of the finest in the West, this illustrated survey examines the development of the Japanese sword in an historical and social context from the eighth to the twentieth century.

The development of the sword from its origins as one of the world's most effective cutting weapons is seen in the context of the emergence and development of Japan's ruling military class, the samurai, to whom it was indispensable both as a weapon and symbol of power. The book also deals concisely with the techniques used in the making of the Japanese sword and the associated terminology.

In addition to weapons from the V&A's own collections and unusual prints showing graphic depictions of swords in action, illustrations include comparative material from other museums such as Japan's Tokyo National Museum which has one of the best and most well documented collections of Japanese swords in the world.

Author Notes

Gregory Irvine is curator in the Far Eastern Department of the VandA, responsible for the collections of Japanese metalwork, particularly arms and armour

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. 6
Introductionp. 8
1 Origins of the Japanese Swordp. 12
2 Development in the Heian Period (AD 794-1185)p. 20
3 The Kamakura Period (1185-1333)p. 30
4 The Muromachi and Momoyama Periods (1333-1600)p. 40
5 The Edo Period (1600-1868)p. 70
6 The Meiji Restoration and Beyondp. 102
Notesp. 123
Glossaryp. 123
Bibliographyp. 125
Indexp. 126