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Home > Articles > Transactions and Proceedings of the Japan Society > The Japanese Yano Ne > Part 7
The Japanese Yano Ne
Part 7 of 10

The accompanying sketches and photographs of yano ne in the possession of American collectors give full idea of the richness and range of form and ornament of these trophies of the swordsmith's art. The great names are all represented. Umetada, the Taiko's swordsmith, is perhaps regarded as the first artist of yano ne, since he was as renowned for his arrowheads as for his long sword-blades. His speciality was the open-work chiselling, and the same chiselling in relief in runnels and grooves as on his sword-blades. His designs á jour were endless. Akihira, Ujihira, Munemitsu, Yukiharu, Tadashige, Akihisa, Sukihisa, Masayuki, Fujiwara Tadakasu, Yoshinaga Mihara, Mitsushige, Yoshimichi, Morikuni, Yoshimasa, Sukemune, Tadayoshi, and other great names are found on these specimens. By the inscriptions and signatures one may date them precisely, but as a general distinction, the square hafts are of the Kamakura and early Ashikaga period, the round hafts of the Toyotomi and Tokugawa times. The finest of all these yano ne, in detail of execution, is the large Kabura ya (turnip-shape) owned by Sir William Van Horne, in which the finely chiselled group of sages in the bamboo grove is confined within the frame-like border of the cutting rim.


(55) Kono hamata (tree leaf divided). (56) Tsubaki nari (camellia leaf). (57) Tatsu shita naoshi (new style dragon's tongue). (58) Taka-ha naoshi (new style hawk's feather). (50) Usuri ha (Daphniphyllum macropodom). (60) Take-ba kudeushi (ornamental bamboo leaf).

Japanese fancy and adaptiveness had full play in designing arrow-heads from natural forms, and the names are most suggestive. Bamboo leaf, camellia leaf, willow leaf, tree leaf, aoi leaf, trefoil, smart-weed leaf, water-plantain, cotton ball, asarum leaf, daphne leaf, and kikyo leaf are all derived from suggestive plant forms. Fish's head, mackerel's tail, crab's claw, dragon's tongue, sparrow's beak, stork's bill, flying wild goose, frog's legs, wild goose beak, flying kite, duck-shape, hawk's feather, and wild boar's eye are equally suggestive in resemblance. The blunt, bullet, tokko, chisel, and pyramidal shapes, called curtain-cutters and armour-piercers, declare their special purpose and qualities.


Large centre: Kiri-kiri, Imperial Crest.
(Van Horne Collection.)

The kaburaya appears oftener than any other shape, perhaps, and kaburaya was used as a general name for the one ornamental arrow which the daimios, generals, and "horseback samurai" (petty officers) carried in their quivers with twenty-five other arrows for ordinary use. This kaburaya, or principal arrow, was never discharged until the battle was lost; and its release by a commander signified his defeat, and death by the honourable seppuku. The kaburaya and the kari mata (flying wild-goose shape) often occur in pairs, showing a pair by Akihisa, of Kyōtō, which are duplicated in the collections of Mr. William J. Walters, Mr. Charles Stuart Smith, Sir William Van Horne, and Mr. Howard Mansfield.

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