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Two swords from Japan’s Todaiji Temple found after 1,250 years

An X-ray scan has revealed two swords from Nara's Todaiji Temple are the two treasures that went missing from the temple's treasure room 1,250 years ago.

The giant Buddha statue under which the swords were found is pictured at Todaiji Temple in NaraThe two swords, made of iron and about one meter long each, were unearthed in 1907 from an area underneath the large Buddha statue's right knee at Todaiji Temple, where they were buried about 45 centimeters deep. They were designated as national treasures, as have been pearls, silver jars, and other treasures found at the temple.

When researchers at the Gangoji institute for research of cultural property put the swords through an X-ray scan on Sept. 30 as part of preservation and repair work, inscriptions, hidden from the naked eye by rust, were found near the handles of the swords.

The inscriptions, made by inlaying another metal into the metal of the sword, read "Yoken" and "Inken." These two names are similar to those appearing at the top of a record of 100 swords donated by Empress Komyo (701-760) to the large Buddha at Todaiji Temple. The lengths and decorations of the swords almost perfectly match the record.

Notes are attached to the record saying that the two swords had been removed from the treasure room at the temple. Based on a different record, it is known that the swords were taken out from the temple on Dec. 26, 759, about a half-year before Empress Komyo's death.

The record shows a total of seven treasures as being removed from the treasure house. Of these seven, the two swords are the only ones whose current locations and existences have been confirmed. Research will continue to see if any other artifacts being held in preservation may be related to the missing treasures.

Also during the latest research, another sword from the temple was discovered to have a mark of seven stars. This mark represented the Big Dipper constellation and was associated with Emperor Shomu (701-756). There are currently no plans to exhibit any of the swords to the public.

Kazuki Sugimoto, member of the Imperial Household Agency and head of the office that administers Todaiji Temple's treasure houses, said that through the discovery, one can feel how Empress Komyo changed her mind on where the swords should be held. Sugimoto believes that the Empress hoped the country would be protected not only by the giant Buddha, but also by the power of the swords.


Source: The Mainichi Daily News [October 26, 2010]


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1 comment :

  1. Swords are one of the most popular weapons of all times. They were the primary weapons of the knights, kings and warriors. They are used nowadays by people for collection purposes or to be used in LARP or cosplay.

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