Where: The Truman Library, Independence, Missouri.
Just a few months into his presidency, President Harry S. Truman was presented a gift so rare that only ten of them are known to exist in the world – a samurai sword made by Masamune, a legendary sword smith from the Sagami Province of Japan. The swords are considered national treasures in Japan, according to Clay Bauske, curator at the Harry S. Truman Library.
“While most objects in the Truman Library museum collection date from mid-20th Century America, some have deep significance to other cultures and other times,” says Bauske. “The Masamune sword is an example. Although we deal specifically with a 20th Century president, through the gifts he received, we are exposed to a much wider world of historical traditions and cultural materials.”
Masamune worked nearly 750 years ago fabricating blades of high workmanship. The tang of the blade on this sword has gold, inlaid characters that indicate the sword was authenticated by a representative of the Japanese emperor in the 16th Century. The disks on the handle are bronze covered in gold; the black scabbard signifies formality.
The sword was presented to President Truman on March 4, 1946 in the Oval Office by General Walter Krueger, commander of the 6th Army occupation forces in Japan following the Second World War. General Kreuger was given the sword by a Samurai family in Japan.
Find out more about the Truman Library here.