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Swords History

Seven-Branched Sword

Friday, 29 July 2016

The Baekje Dynasty was an ancient kingdom located in southwest Korea.  At its peak in the 4th century, Baekje controlled colonies in China and most of the western Korean Peninsula.  They were one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla.  In 372, King Geunchogo of Baekje paid tribute to Eastern Jin and it is believed that a Seven-Branched Sword was created and given to the king as a sign of praise.

Seven Branched

The Sword

The weapon is a 74.9 cm long iron sword with six branch-like protrusions along the central blade, which is 65.5 cm.  The sword was developed for ceremonial purposes and was not built for battle.  In 1870 a Shinto priest named Masatomo Kan discovered two inscriptions on the Seven-Branched Sword.  One of them states “At noon on the sixteenth day of the eleventh month, fourth year of Taiwa era, the sword was made of 100 time’s hardened steel.  Using the sword repels 100 enemy soldiers.  Appropriate for the polite duke king.”

The Seven-Branched Sword contains many statements, but the most controversial involves the phrase “enfeoffed lord,” used when describing the King of Wa as a possible subservient to the Baekje ruler.  The sword is an important historical link and shows that a relationship did exist between the East Asian countries of this era.  The original Seven-Branched Sword is currently housed in the Isonokami Shrine in Nara Prefecture of Japan.  It is not on display to the public.