After my mother passed away, I found this sword. I'm trying to get any information on it. It's one-piece, and appears to be brass under all the erosion but I could be wrong about the metal. I think it's oriental but have no basis for thinking that. It's about 19 1/8" long, and a bit past 1 1/2' wide. There are faded markings and some striations on the hilt. I have photos of it but they're too large to upload. I'd be happy to send them to someone. I appreciate any help you can provide. Thanks!

enter image description here

I'd thought about cleaning the sword but decided against it. I played with different photo options and was able to get a good close-up:

id of sword

This is my first time on this web site, so please excuse my confusion and frustration on how to go about dealing with protocol. My sincere apologies.

In WWII, my dad was stationed in Guam. I'm assuming that is how the sword came into his possession. While I like watching archaeological programs on TV, they aren't very educational. I know next to nothing about swords.

If possible, I would like to sell the sword.

@kimchi Thanks, that's was a great idea. Unfortunately, the letters are either too faded or too shallow as it didn't work.

@dROOOze I hope this helps. Close-up of writing on sword

@dROOOze Thank you so much for all you've done. It took awhile before I understood what you were saying.

As I closely looked at the photo you very graciously provided, I noticed a couple of differences.

  • It looks like the "X" has at the bottom a small "" on the left, and a small " /" on the right. I don't know if that changes the translation.
  • This one is minor so probably doesn't change anything. The second to last symbol/word on the left side, it flares out more on the left side than the example. Suspect it's a matter of style for the writer but thought I'd mention it.

Would cleaning it help? If so, what do you suggest I use?

Again, I am very grateful for all of your efforts on my behalf.

  • 6
    Hello! Try resaving the images you have as JPG with a lower quality ratio. IrfanView is my preferred software for such things. Alternatively, try taking more focussed pictures of the hilt and markings only. Identifications of this will be quite difficult without any imagery.
    – gktscrk
    Jul 1, 2020 at 4:26
  • 3
    Welcome. You could upload the photos to a hosting site, for example imgur.com, and link them. And metric units would make it better readable ;-)
    – user43870
    Jul 1, 2020 at 9:15
  • Thanks to all of you. It occurred to me that the background makes an impact on the JPG image size. Success! I appreciate any help. The only thing I can think of is maybe my father got it when he served in the WWII; he was stationed in Guam. My grandfather was in WWI but I don't know where he was stationed. I'll try to find out more through genealogy research.
    – CMR
    Jul 4, 2020 at 2:14
  • I'm the worst at this identification but my first thoughts lead to China and not Japan due to the shape of the hilt and such. Not my speciality though.
    – gktscrk
    Jul 4, 2020 at 4:06
  • Would it be possible to take a rubbing? Jul 5, 2020 at 1:15

2 Answers 2


There is a recent reddit post about a sword like this, thought it might help you. https://www.reddit.com/r/SWORDS/comments/hl0yjn/found_in_south_africa_does_anyone_know_what_this/


Although the provided image is a bit unclear, I believe that the inscription is the same as on another image which I gave a quick-and-dirty translation on /r/translator a while back. Here is the inscription in the question (left) and the one I saw before (right), side-by-side:

enter image description here


The characters mostly have shapes adhering to bronze inscriptions. The rough translation is

The dòu (豆, round-bottomed bronze vessel) was cast (作) by the Father (父王) of the King of Zhou (周王) on the fifth month (五月) of the fourth year (四年) for (用) recreation (享) at (于) the ancestral temple (宗室)

Personally, I thought there were some problems with the character shapes and the language used in this inscription, which made me doubt its authenticity.

  • This is a sword, not a round-bottomed bronze vessel. (The character in your image corresponding to 豆 on the right is illegible though)
  • As far as I know, 「周父王」 ("Father of the King of Zhou") is not a phrase that shows up in authentic inscriptions
  • The character 「父」 does not look like that in bronze inscriptions
  • Bronze inscriptions are normally meticulously recorded for paleography study. There is no record, as far as I can find, of an inscription with the text


There is an item with this inscription which appears on a Taiwan auction bidding site. I can't gauge its authenticity, but there is a long and supposedly historical background of the object given at the bottom of the auction page, relying on an erroneous transcription of 「豆」 as 「亶」.

  • 1
    @CMR If you're able to provide a clearer image on your side, I might change my mind about the third character 父. I have a hunch that the character is supposed to be 癸 instead, but the inscription I saw before on the right had a copying error.
    – dROOOze
    Jul 4, 2020 at 6:37
  • The new answer below linking to reddit might have a clearer image for you.
    – justCal
    Jul 5, 2020 at 17:36
  • @justCal oh thanks. they say the same thing as the first image i saw on reddit a while back though, i was hoping that the sword in the question was a bit different
    – dROOOze
    Jul 5, 2020 at 20:39
  • I noticed the comments actually linked back to your earlier translation. This is the first image I noticed that reproduced/ cleared up the work on the grip as well as the blade.
    – justCal
    Jul 5, 2020 at 20:58

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