|Budget Amount *help
¥3,100,000 (Direct Cost : ¥3,100,000)
Fiscal Year 1998 : ¥600,000 (Direct Cost : ¥600,000)
Fiscal Year 1997 : ¥2,500,000 (Direct Cost : ¥2,500,000)
Including those found only in records, it is believed that 15 swords with inlaid characters were known in Japan of which 12 are still extant : eight from the KOFUN period (4th - early 7th c. A.D.) and four from the ASUKA Period onward (the mid-7th c. - 15th c.A.D.).
The swords themselves are of iron, and the inlays, telling the date of manufacture, the historical background, owner's name, auspicious words, and so on, are of gold, silver, or copper. These swords are of immense value as historical data.
The present author has studied all fifteen extant swords in four ways : surveys of the sites where they were found, literary analyses of the inscriptions, examination of the inlay techniques used, and a metallurgical analysis of the inlays
From these extensive studies, the anthor thinks that four things may be said ;
1. The nine sword dating from the KOFUN Period may be grouped into two categories : those handed down from generation to generation of kings, and those made for one generation of local rulers.
2. The KOFUN Period swords were manufactured in China, the Korean peninsula, and Japan ; the foreigh-made swords, accorded higher status, were used by generations of kings, while the domestically produced swords were exclusively manufactured by the Yamato government for presentation to local rulers.
3. The KOFUN Period inlaid swords were symbols of political, military and economic power.
4. With the exception of the Emperor's sword. after the KOFUN Period these swords lost their political and economic symbolism, but continued as inspirational artifacts, encouraging victory, health, and happiness.