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Jiganemaru

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  • Other Names: 筑紫ちゃら (Tsukushi-chara)
  • Japanese: 治金丸 (Jiganemaru, Teganemaru)

Jiganemaru is a sword associated with the royal family of the Ryûkyû Kingdom. According to the Kyûyô, it was presented to King Shô Shin by Nakasone Tuyumya of Miyakojima in 1522. The unsigned 15th century blade and the 17th century black lacquered furniture are believed to have been made in Japan; the hilt is wrapped in sharkskin, and the kozuka are decorated with designs of auspicious clouds. It is hedl today in the Naha City Museum of History.[1]

According to some accounts, an official named Ahagon Jikki took the sword to Kyoto to be polished, sometime in the 1520s-1560s, but upon returning home to Ryûkyû with the polished sword, he realized it was not the same sword: the swords had been switched somehow. Returning again to Ryûkyû three years later having retrieved the correct sword, Ahagon was highly praised by the royal court, and following his death was honored with the privilege of being buried near Shuri castle.[2]

Some scholars, however, suggest that the name Jiganemaru, or Teganemaru, refers not to a sword from Miyako, but rather to a sword also known as 'Tsukushi-chara, from Kyushu (aka Tsukushi, or Chikushi). This sword is closely associated not only with the royal court at Shuri, but also with the lords of Shimasoe Ôzato gusuku in southern Okinawa.[3] Like another prominent royal sword, Chiyoganemaru, the blade indeed appears identical in style and manufacture to those made in Japan, albeit with fittings (hilt, etc.) atypical of Japanese use. It's believed that most arms and armor used in pre-modern and early modern Ryûkyû was in fact made in Japan. None of this precludes the possibility, of course, that the Japanese-made sword passed through Nakasone's hands before making its way to Okinawa, if it is indeed the same blade as mentioned in the Nakasone legends.

References

  1. Naha City Museum of History, Digital Museum, 2015.; Okinawa bijutsu zenshû 沖縄美術全集. vol. 4. Okinawa Times, 1989. Description of Plates 81-82.; George Kerr. Okinawa: The History of an Island People. Revised Edition. Tuttle Publishing (2000), 118, 121-122.
  2. Plaques on-site at Aijô-ufumichi in Shuri, Okinawa.[1]
  3. Gregory Smits, Maritime Ryukyu, University of Hawaii Press (2019), 99.
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