In addition to our efforts to teach and promote the modern martial art of Naginata, we also feel it's important that our students gain an appreciation of the historical significance of the naginata. Although the samurai's use of traditional weapons declined after the introduction of firearms during the 16th century, the naginata continued to be used by many of the women to protect their homes while the men were away in battle or working in the fields. Even during the relatively peaceful Edo period, Japanese women were required to master the use of the naginata by age 18. It was considered an essential part of every woman's dowry, and was often decorated quite ornately.
Shown below are photos of one of these naginata blades. It was made in the late 1600's, and is in excellent overall condition. Genuine naginata blades are difficult to obtain, and few students have the opportunity to see an actual blade. We're delighted to have the opportunity to share the beauty of this blade with you!
Acknowledgements: Thank you to M.C. for making it all possible!
Above: A well preserved 17th century naginata blade. The milky white cutting edge (at top) has a well defined hamon. The hamon is the heat-treated section which is composed of high-carbon steel (martensite). This high-carbon steel enables the edge to maintain its sharpness. The inner "core" of the blade is made of a softer, lower-carbon steel which gives the blade the resiliency needed to endure the rigors of battle. The artistic pattern of the hamon is designed by the swordsmith, and is formed when the red-hot blade is quenched in cool water. For more information about the crafting of Japanese sword blades, please see our series of articles.
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|Above: The section of the blade used for cutting (the "kissaki").||Above: The tip of the blade (the "boshi").|
|Above: The grooves ("Naginata-hi"; pronounced "hee"). It is sometimes also referred to as the "bo-hi".||Above: The silver blade collar ("habaki").|
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