Efu Tachi no Murasaki Shikagawa Sageo 衛府太刀の紫鹿革下緒





Purple dyed deerskin Efu Tachi Sageo


This is a Nashiji-nuri saya 梨地塗鞘 (wooden scabbard lacquered with fine gold flakes) of an Efu Tachi koshirae 衛府太刀 (a formal style of sword mounting worn by Imperial Courtiers). A similar style was in use during the Heian period 平安時代 (794-1185) although this example dates from the end part of the Edo period 江戸時代 (1603-1868). I was comissioned to make the missing Sageo 下緒 (tying cord), the two missing Obitori 帯執 (hangers) and the round doeskin cord which is suspended from the Tsuka 柄. The client requested that the sageo be made from Japanese doeskin 鹿革 as opposed to the commonly encountered woven silk variety.

Efu Tachi Sageo 衛府太刀 の下緒 front
Efu Tachi Sageo 衛府太刀 の下緒 detail

The Obitori 帯執 or Ashi-gawa as they are sometimes called, are made from Japanese white tanned leather (Shiro-nameshi gawa) 白鞣革 which is now only produced by the one surviving craftsman in Japan. They are then covered with handmade E-gawa 絵革 (stencilled leather). The stencil for the E-gawa I cut from handmade Katagami paper 型紙 and applied the dye to the soft Japanese doeskin in the traditional manner. Once this work was complete they were ready for assembling and attaching to the saya along with their gilt soft metal fittings. The Sageo I also made using a core of Shiro-nameshi leather but covered this time with soft doeskin which I dyed using the traditional Japanese plant dye called Shikon 紫根 to produce the purple dye known as Murasaki 紫). The completed sageo, remarkably, is over ten feet long and with fine hand stitching on its reverse, running along its entire length.

Mitsu Tomoe E-gawa 三巴の絵革
Efu Tachi Sageo 衛府太刀 の下緒 reverse
Tsuka 柄