This rare 16th-century Samurai Tachi sword belonged to Fukushima Masanori, a powerful warlord in feudal Japan.
In Japanese ‘Tachi’ (太刀) means ‘Long Sword.’ It was the largest sword in Samurai’s arsenal, far bigger than Katana or Wakizashi. In fact, preceding the development of the Katana, it was Tachi that was the original traditional sword of the legendary Samurai warrior. Tachi, Katana, and Wakizashi differ not only in length and curvature, but also in how they are worn when sheathed.
This Tachi sword belonged to one of the most famous warriors and daimyos (feudal lords) in Japanese history – the great Fukushima Masanori (1561–1624). He is known as one of the Seven Spears of Shizugatake for his actions in the Battle of Shizugatake, where he had the honor of first blood. Throughout his life, he fought in many campaigns, including the Battle of Ch’ungju during the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592.
To this day, Masanori is widely featured in Japanese media as a heroic Samurai warrior. It is hard to imagine that this Tachi sword was once held and possibly used in battle by Fukushima Masanori himself. Perhaps it was even the sword that drew first blood in the Battle of Shizugatake.
This Tachi is from 16th-century Japan, dating to the end of the Koto period. The 16th and 17th centuries were especially dangerous for Tachi swords. When close-combat style became popular, the use of long swords diminished. Many Tachi swords were shortened into Katanas and lost their uniqueness. Because they were large and difficult to conceal, the relentless destruction of these Samurai weapons, and especially long swords, continued until the middle of the 20th century. Today an authentic Tachi sword in mint condition is a truly rare discovery.
The blade of a Samurai sword is a technological marvel. Experts around the world agree that an authentic Samurai sword is a perfection of a bladed weapon in every way. In some cases it took as much time and effort to create a well-crafted Samurai sword as it took Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The decorations on these swords are works of art in themselves. It required as much artistic skill and inspiration to decorate an important Samurai sword as for Leonardo Da Vinci to paint the Mona Lisa.
The Samurai sword symbolizes all of the best traits of the Japanese people: perfectionism, strength, elegance, ingenuity, imagination, craftsmanship, and artistic genius. Because of that, it is perhaps the most widely known bladed weapon in the world.
Today there is a clear tendency to value ancient Samurai swords for their unrivaled craftsmanship, for their unique history, for their cultural power, to even value them aesthetically as visual art. However, the time has finally come to value them financially. Without a doubt all ancient Samurai swords of significant historical importance must be classified and treated as world treasure.
This Tachi is currently in the Tamoikin Art Fund and is considered to be one of their most valuable assets. It has been appraised at over $105 million and was featured in the prestigious Forbes 400 Special Edition magazine in USA, EU, and Asia, as well as in Forbes Korea.
In the photos below, Prof. Mikhail Tamoikin, Ph.D., vice president of the Tamoikin Art Fund, hold Masanori’s Tachi sword during its first public exhibition that was held in 2013 in the Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania.
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