Recently, archaeologists from the Nara Municipal Buried Cultural Properties Research Centre and the Nara Prefectural Archaeological Institute of Kashihara made a remarkable discovery at the Tomiomaruyama burial mound in Nara City, Japan. During their excavation, they uncovered a giant 7’10” dakoken sword, made from iron, and a shield-shaped bronze mirror, both of which date back to the early Kofun period in Japan.
The discovery of these artifacts is significant because it provides a glimpse into the high level of metallurgical skill present during the Kofun period. The size of the giant dakoken sword and the unique shape of the mirror are important indicators of the advanced knowledge of metallurgical techniques and the importance placed on burying treasures with the dead during this time.
The Dakoken Sword: A Weapon of Spiritual Warfare
The giant dakoken sword, with its slightly bent blade like a snake, is believed to have been used in a ceremonial context to ward off evil. It is speculated that this enormous sword was manufactured specifically to serve as a weapon of spiritual warfare, for use in afterlife battles where Oni (demons) and yurei (ghosts) strived to capture one’s journeying soul.
The size of the giant dakoken sword, at 7’10”, makes it the largest intact dakoken sword discovered in Japan to date. The presence of such a large sword in a burial mound suggests its importance in the spiritual beliefs and practices of the Kofun period.
The Shield-Shaped Bronze Mirror
The shield-shaped bronze mirror found at the Tomiomaruyama burial mound is also considered a masterpiece of national treasure-class metallurgical objects. Unlike other bronze mirrors found at archaeological sites in Japan, which are typically rounded, this mirror is shield-shaped and measures 64 cm in height by 31 cm in width.
The center of the back of the mirror is raised, with two rounded patterns that are identical to the patterns typically inscribed on “Daryukyo” mirrors from the Kofun Period. The unique shape of this mirror adds to the significance of the discovery and highlights the level of expertise and creativity present in the metallurgical practices of the Kofun period.
The discovery of the giant dakoken sword and the shield-shaped bronze mirror at the Tomiomaruyama burial mound in Nara City, Japan is a remarkable one that provides insight into the advanced metallurgical practices of the Kofun period. The size of the sword and the unique shape of the mirror are important indicators of the expertise and creativity present in the metallurgical techniques of the time.
The significance of this discovery lies not only in the size and uniqueness of the artifacts, but also in the spiritual beliefs and practices of the Kofun period. The presence of such a large sword in a burial mound suggests its importance as a weapon of spiritual warfare in the afterlife, and the unique shape of the bronze mirror adds to the significance of the discovery.
The Kofun period marked a significant moment in Japanese history, with the transmission of the practice of building sepulchral mounds and burying treasures with the dead from the Asian continent to Japan. The discovery of the giant dakoken sword and the shield-shaped bronze mirror provides further evidence of the importance of this practice and the significance of the Kofun period in Japanese history.
This discovery not only sheds light on the advanced metallurgical practices of the Kofun period, but also on the spiritual beliefs and cultural practices of the time. It is a reminder of the rich history and cultural heritage present in Japan and the importance of preserving and studying these artifacts for future generations.
Thanks to the Asahi Shimbun for additional reporting.