A saihai usually consisted of a lacquered wood stick with metal ends. The butt had a hole for a cord for the saihai to be hung from the armor of the samurai when not being used. The head of the saihai had a hole with a cord attached to a tassel of strips of lacquered paper, leather, cloth or yak hair. The saihai first came into use during the 1570s and the 1590s between the Genki and Tensho year periods. Large troop movements and improved and varied tactics required commanders in the rear to be able to signal their troops during a battle.