Asian Tribal Art - Yanone, Japan

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Three Arrowheads, Yanone
Folded tempered steel
11, 13 and 10 inches (28, 33 and 25.3 cm) high
Edo Period (1603-1867)
Ex collection Cathryn Cootner, former textile curator at the M.H. de Young Museum, SF

These arrowheads are called yashiri or yanone and were used for various purposes, such as presentations and gifts, or for battle and hunting.

Yanagi ba (willow leaf) arrowheads sometimes have a saw-cut family crest (mon), as is the case with this example. There are two characters incised on the front of the tang, which are likely mei (signature) of the ironsmith or the family who commissioned the arrowhead.

Karimata (rope-cutter) arrowheads were used for hunting large game and also for battle. They were commonly pierced with a single cut, but this one has two separate piercings.

This special yanone has a modified willow leaf shape with seven pierced circles, representing the subaru star cluster, known in the west as the Pleiades. This star cluster can also be found on jingasa and jinbaori; the small incised tail on the last star represents the tip of a sword.


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