This short samurai sword, or shoto, has a handle covered with ray skin and a fraying black braid. A decorative metal lion is attached to the side of the handle over the braid, and there are embossed dragons on the top of the handle and on the bottom rim where the blade is attached. The straight blade is 13 3/4" long. The scabbard is made of black lacquered wood, with narrow grooves about an inch apart and a metal dragon cap at the bottom. A metal floral design is attached to the side of the scabbard towards the top above a geometric pattern.
A shoto is a short sword between one and two shaku in length. A shaku, the traditional unit of measurement for Japanese swords, is equivalent to about a foot, though it was longer before 1891. A long sword, such as a katana, is two or more shaku long.
The sword date range falls within the Edo period (1600-1868), a time of peace in which samurai accoutrements would have been used as status symbols rather than as weapons.