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Samurai culture

Samurai culture had a more direct impact on the development of the decorative arts. Military armour was made in quantity during the Kamakura era and the art of the sword became an important area of artistic production for centuries to follow. The long and short sword of the samurai, the sword guard ( tsuba ), scabbard and elaborate fittings and ornaments are all considered achievements of Japanese metalwork design.

While sword production in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was concentrated in the provinces of Bizen and Mino (today's Okayama and Gifu), by the Edo era (1600-1868), Edo and Osaka had become leading centres of sword-making. Sword smiths were noted for their skill in forging and for the meticulousness of finish which they applied to the blades. Through the peaceful years of the Edo era, however, swordfittings came to be associated with the decorative rather than the practical. Sword furniture from this time might be both simple and abstract, or draw on representational themes from nature, religion and everyday life.

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