Naginata, signed by 清長 Kiyonaga, Japanese Samurai sword, Kenji period (1275-1278 AD); Toko Taikan rating: ¥6.5M = $49,741 USD; Hawley rating: 50; Signature on the tang: 清長 Kiyonaga; Father: Kiyokage 清景; Era: Kenji 1275-1278 AD, Province: Suō; Total Length: 21.8 inches = 55.5 cm; Length of the blade only: 13.25 inches = 33.5 cm; Sori - 17 mm; Weight of the blade only: 427 g; Weight (blade + Habaki): 448 g; Habaki – old copper; 刃文, hamon effect: moderate; Provenance: Estate sale of American officer in Gordon, Texas, USA. The naginata (なぎなた, 薙刀) is a pole weapon and one of several varieties of traditionally made Japanese blades (nihontō). Naginata were originally used by the samurai class of feudal Japan, as well as by ashigaru (foot soldiers) and sōhei (warrior monks). The naginata is the iconic weapon of the onna-bugeisha, a type of female warrior belonging to the Japanese nobility. Naginata for fighting men and warrior monks were ō-naginata. The kind used by women was called ko-naginata. It is generally believed that naginata first appeared in the Heian period, but there is a theory that it is unclear when it first appeared because the physical evidence of their existence dates only from the mid-Kamakura period and there were various notations of naginata in the Heian period. Earlier 10th through 12th century sources refer to "long swords" that while a common medieval term or orthography for naginata, could also simply be referring to conventional swords; one source describes a naginata being drawn with the verb nuku, commonly associated with swords, rather than hazusu, the verb otherwise used in medieval texts for unsheathing naginata. Some 11th and 12th century mentions of hoko may actually have been referring to naginata. The commonly assumed association of the naginata and the sōhei is also unclear. Artwork from the late-13th and 14th centuries depict the sōhei with naginata but do not appear to place any special significance to it: the weapons appear as just one of a number of others carried by the monks, and are used by samurai and commoners as well. Depictions of naginata-armed sōhei in earlier periods were created centuries after the fact, and are likely using the naginata as a symbol to distinguish the sōhei from other warriors, rather than giving an accurate portrayal of the events. In the peaceful Edo Period, weapons' value as battlefield weapons became diminished and their value for martial arts and self-defense rose. The naginata was accepted as a status symbol and self-defense weapon for women of nobility, resulting in the image that "the Naginata is the main weapon used by women". A naginata was commonly a dowry of women of the nobility. But historical recordings describing the practice of martial arts by women are rare and uncertain.