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An unusual decorative wooden sword (tea room sword) carved of hardwood in the shape of a dried fish signed on the belly pierced and wrapped with a faded silk chord. An excellent example of the genre it is 13-1/2 inches (34 cm) long and in fine condition.
It is said that these wooden swords were produced from the mid to late Edo period, in lieu of swords for those not allowed to carry weapons (all but samurai). During the Edo it is true that commoners wore them to ward off evildoers at night, generally heavier versions which would double as a truncheon, and later as statements of fashion akin to other sagemono. We have found however that their production lasted through the opening years of the 20th century, as long accustomed ornaments of fashion in the tea room (where even samurai were not allowed bladed weapons). To the repertoire of bokuto and doctors sword, we thus add the name Chato, or tea sword, as they were commonly referred to in Kyoto. As with other members of the sagemono group, they were most often made by carvers of Netsuke.