Important Cultural PropertyRitual axe for mountaineering priest of Shugen sect

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  • 1 piece
  • Axe: iron; handle: wood, handle wrapped with bronze strip
  • Overall H 179.8; L of axe 28.0, W 25.5
  • Nanbokucho to Muromachi period/14th century
  • Nara National Museum

While a Nyubu ax used to be a practical tool for mountain ascetics who used it to cut path through the mountains, it later became formalized and was also used as a piece of ritual equipment. This ax comprises a shaft and a blade in a plectrum shape, where the width is shortened in the center. The blade has a heart-shaped hole in the center that is rimmed with copper and the rear part, which has a three-petal shape, also has a similar hole. A narrow copper plate covers the shaft in spirals. Since Yamabushi practitioners of Shugendo (ascetic training to obtain enlightenment through the study of the relationship between man and nature) practice asceticism in rugged areas such as the sacred mountains across the country, they carry gear required for roaming through wilderness. This ax displays the powerfulness of a practical tool through its restrained decoration. This is believed to have been handed down to Jinjoji Temple in Shiga.