Original Muromachi Period Japanese Makura Yari "Pillow Spear" from Bizen Province with Handmade Blade and Scabbard

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is something that we have not had before! A yari (槍) a traditionally-made Japanese blade (nihonto) in the form of a spear, or more specifically, the straight-headed spear. Spears are used throughout the world in different forms, but as with all Japanese edged weapons, they feature handmade blades made from Tamahagane (玉鋼) Steel. There are many different types of Yari, based on the usage, style, size, and so forth.

This is a wonderful Makura Yari (枕槍), or Pillow Spear, and was intended for exactly what it sounds like. These would be kept near the bed at night, possibly under the pillow, and were intended to be an easy access weapon to repel any assailant, animal, or other invader. The pillow yari measures 34 1/4” in overall length with an 30” long shaft (Ebu), which looks to be a fairly typical size for this type of spear.

Additionaly, Yari blades were classified based on shape, and this is a Hira Sankaku Yari (平三角槍) type, which have a point that resembles a narrow spike with an isosceles-triangle shaped cross-section. Others examples of Pillow spears we have seen had this same shape, which is compact and strong.

The tang on this example is signed by the maker, though unfortunately rust has made part of it illegible. It looks to have 4 or 5 characters, which are 備 前 ? ? , or BIZEN ? ? KUNI. There is a partial third character, and possibly a 4th completely rusted away. We believe it may be 共 TOMO or 吉 YOSHI, but unfortunately it is beyond our skill to tell.

Bizen is a province with a long history of legendary schools of Japanese swordsmithing, and virtually every edged weapon made there is desirable. We did some research, and of the smiths we found whose names ended with 國 KUNI, almost all were 14th-15th century, with a few in the 16th century. This era is known as the Muromachi period (室町時代 Muromachi jidai), which lasted from 1336 to 1573. This is part of the period of Japanese swordmaking known as Kotō (古刀"old swords"), the the type of swords that later smiths treated as the goal they needed to achieve. Those who forged swords in the Bizen province, today known as Okayama prefecture, at the end of the Muromachi Period (1492-1569 A.D) are called Matsu Bizen.

The blade has the following period correct features:

- Folded steel blade (fold lines are evident on the spine and body of the blade)
- Hole in the tang is punched and not drilled
- Vibrant fully visible temper line (hamon) on the blade.
- Signature on the tang
- Hada (grain) visible in the body of the blade.
- Blade wounds (kizu) or lamination artifacts are present on the blade. Both ware (lamination lines) and fukure (carbon pits) are visible.

Offered in great condition, the blade of this example is in excellent polish, and shows only very tiny traces of oxidation and scuffing. The edge is still quite sharp, so care is needed, and there are no nicks or other damage we can see. The Blade of this example is 3 5/8" long, from the tip (kissaki) to the back notch (mune-machi), and the overall length including the tang is 13 3/4“. The tang is long and straight, and would assume that this is the typical type for a Yari.

The blade has a vibrant visible hamon (temper line), which is a lovely TOURAN (billowing) type, with internal activity such as KINSUJI. There are multiple lamination lines along the blade, and there are clear NIE crystals along the temper line, and the correct NIOI cloudiness. The blade shows MASAME (straight) hada (grain) on the body. Really a great blade here!

The fittings of the yari look to be recently made except for the iron Habaki (blade color), which shows great age, though maybe not as old as the blade itself. The ebu (pole) is straight and unadorned, and the Saya (scabbard) is made from two pieces of wood glued together, much like a shirasaya (resting scabbard). The mekugi (peg) is recent as well, and all fittings are in excellent condition.

A fantastic Muromachi period Pillow Yari, ready to add to your collection! The only example that we have ever had!

Blade Length: 3 5/8" Edge - 13 3/4“ Overall
Overall length: 34 1/4"
Pole (Ebu) Length: 30"
Scabbard Length: 6"

It has been over one thousand years ago that the art of making swords appeared in Japan. The swordsmiths of the time may not have known it but they were creating a legendary sword. The Samurai sword has seen combat in many battlefields. From the early days of the Samurai warrior to the fierce battles in the South Pacific during WWII.

Each hand-made Japanese blade (日本刀 - Nihonto) is unique because it is forged from multiple pieces of folded steel stock. A tremendous amount of work is dedicated to creating these pieces. They were an instrument of war as much as a beautiful artifact to adorn a room.

The traditional Japanese blade and mountings have grown to be one of the most highly desired military antiques.

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