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 Post subject: Re: Has anyone seen a blade like this?
 Post Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:01 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:17 pm
Posts: 79
Jean,

Thank you very much for your photos. Indeed, it's a very nice Oei Yasumitsu. I noticed its soft somewhat goldish sttel with tight beautiful mokume forging.
In fact, such descent suguha blades are very pleasant to see.

Adrian,

Thanks for the diagram.
There is only one tachi known as a work of Mokusa Seian or Yoyasu. It's designated as a Juyo-bijyutsu blade and unfortunately its where about is unknown.
Thus, I and my peers never had a chance to see it so far. According to the Nihonto Taikan, this was in the collection of a famous collector living in Osaka.

Regarding koshiba, my ko-Hoki Aritsuna tachi is in that construction. This one has ubu nakago slightly filed forwarded machi with yakiotoshi about 5mm originally.
Its temperline starts with a short yakiotoshi then, quite low koshiba comes up along with mizukage like utsuri in 45 degrees. This utsuri changes into cloud like strong utsuri then fades into jitetsu.
By looking at this fact, your sword seems to have a similar construction.

Now, one thing I want you to know is that later Hokkoku swords sometimes have older looking construction. I have a tachi signed as Kuniyuki, its inscription does not match to the Kuniyuki smiths
known today. It has dull, blackish steel with similar forging pattern to your blade, and its tempering is very old looking ko-Hoki or ko-Bizen like ko-choji style with bright ko-nie inside of the tempering.
I and my mentor Chubachi-san concluded this is a work of earliest generation of Esshu Kuniyuki from Echizen or Ecchu. This may be from later Kamakura, but so far, we left it as from Nanbokucho
era to avoid too much speculation. If you are interested to see it in your hands, I can show you in your next visit to Japan. I think this will give you a hint for sure.

Wataru


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 Post subject: Re: Has anyone seen a blade like this?
 Post Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:52 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:10 am
Posts: 59
Hello Mr. Wataru and all,

Yes, your description of the koshiba on the Ko-Hoki Aritsuna sounds very similar. I have attached a diagram of what I can see on my sword. The koshiba is stronger on one side than the other, I feel that this blade has been polished down one side a little more than the other so one is a little different and the habuchi is softer.

Attachment:
koshiba.jpg
koshiba.jpg [ 34.92 KiB | Viewed 4497 times ]


It is funny we have some similar swords in our collection. I have Echizen Rai Mitsuyuki, said to be a student of Kuniyasu, I think your Kuniyuki could be much older. I understand what you are saying that Kokkoku swordsmith worked in the old style and were behind the major schools in the latest techniques.

I am sad to hear that Yoyasu is whereabouts unknown. Can you tell me when it was last seen? Is it lost from WW2?

My first question. My sword is hirazukuri katana and old, we can safely say somewhere between late Heian and Oei by the construction. It is undoubtedly unusual in sugata and rare. Is this sword a special order? What type of bushi would order a blade like this in this style? Kamakura Tohoku bushi? Hiraizumi bushi?

Second question. Is this sword developed from hirazukuri Sunobe tanto uchigata from Nambokucho? If so, why is the construction and the jigane so old yet the sugata so new?

cheers,
Adrian S


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 Post subject: Re: Has anyone seen a blade like this?
 Post Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:17 pm
Posts: 79
Adrian,

Quote:
Yes, your description of the koshiba on the Ko-Hoki Aritsuna sounds very similar. I have attached a diagram of what I can see on my sword.
The koshiba is stronger on one side than the other, I feel that this blade has been polished down one side a little more than the other so one is a little different and the habuchi is softer.


Looks very unique. I suspect this koshiba and utsuri look like faint hitatsura, aren't they? I think this process was applied by the smith to create spring like effect at its machi, or may be, it was done by
a later craftsman to adjust this blade by giving a heat treatment at the machi. Sometimes we see suriage swords with heat treatment applied at this area, probably required to adjust new habaki.

Quote:
It is funny we have some similar swords in our collection. I have Echizen Rai Mitsuyuki, said to be a student of Kuniyasu, I think your Kuniyuki could be much older. I understand what you are saying that Kokkoku swordsmith worked in the old style and were behind the major schools in the latest techniques.


Wow, Esshu Mitsuyuki is quite rare piece from early Muromachi. The reason why the Hokkoku smiths sometimes made older looking swords is still unknown.
Also we now lack the knowledge that how old the origin of the Hokkoku schools can be rooted. Some say it's late Kamakura, some say late Nanbokucho, but no one is sure. But one thing for sure is that their
techniques were not of inferior version of the Yamato smiths, there must be some reason, this is the question.

Quote:
I am sad to hear that Yoyasu is whereabouts unknown. Can you tell me when it was last seen? Is it lost from WW2?


Until the 70's, it was in the collection of Mr. Ueda of Osaka. After he deceased, I haven't heard of its location, but I'm sure it's in someone's private collection.

Quote:
My first question. My sword is hirazukuri katana and old, we can safely say somewhere between late Heian and Oei by the construction. It is undoubtedly unusual in sugata and rare. Is this sword a special order? What type of bushi would order a blade like this in this style? Kamakura Tohoku bushi? Hiraizumi bushi?


This is a difficult question. This is just my opinion, signed swords were probably for trade sale. The values of the swords were probably evaluated by the inscription.
Then, the question rises, what about mumei ones? Well, these were for warriors of the temples, not for samurai class. The reason is, very influential temples were actually the centers of
production activities and trade economies, and these were under control of the armed monks who demanded large number of swords for their own use.

Quote:
Second question. Is this sword developed from hirazukuri Sunobe tanto uchigata from Nambokucho? If so, why is the construction and the jigane so old yet the sugata so new?


Now this is continuing from the previous answer. I speculate this kind of swords are directly rooted to primitive hiradukuri emishi-to. Later, shorter version appeared as sunnobi tanto, but longer ones kept produced to wear casually. Don't you think your sword is good to wear like later uchigatana with rough clothes?

Wataru


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 Post subject: Re: Has anyone seen a blade like this?
 Post Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:41 am 
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Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:10 am
Posts: 59
Hello Wataru san,

Quote:
I suspect this koshiba and utsuri look like faint hitatsura, aren't they?


Yes, it is much fainter than my diagram, you can only see it with a good light.

Quote:
The reason why the Hokkoku smiths sometimes made older looking swords is still unknown.
Also we now lack the knowledge that how old the origin of the Hokkoku schools can be rooted.


As I wrote in my article, Mokusa and Tamazukuri smiths moved to other centres of sword production after the fall of Hiraizumi. Some likely to have followed the trade routes and relocated in Ura Japan.
It is likely that schools such as Ko-Uda can trace their origin to this time, but of course we have no proof yet. I assume when we have some archeology of the swordsmith forges then we can C14 date the slag and may have some earlier dates. This will be difficult as the sites will span many generations. We will need to C14 the swords themselves and the non destructive technology is not yet available.

Quote:
This is just my opinion, signed swords were probably for trade sale. The values of the swords were probably evaluated by the inscription.
Then, the question rises, what about mumei ones? Well, these were for warriors of the temples, not for samurai class. The reason is, very influential temples were actually the centers of
production activities and trade economies, and these were under control of the armed monks who demanded large number of swords for their own use.


Any swords signed from Heian era are extremely rare, even some of the few signed examples are in doubt to their age. You could be correct about the sword economy, it could be from early times that the Temples were buying and selling unsigned Oshu swords for profit and to equip their armies. Later the temples sponsored swordsmiths to establish forges nearby. It makes sense that these swordsmiths re-located from Oshu and the timing of the establishment of the Yamato schools also seems likely. I look forward to hear your research.

Quote:
I speculate this kind of swords are directly rooted to primitive hiradukuri emishi-to. Later, shorter version appeared as sunnobi tanto, but longer ones kept produced to wear casually. Don't you think your sword is good to wear like later uchigatana with rough clothes?


Absolutely! Thats my opinion too. I think that this is a "casual sword" not made for war, but for personal protection within the big cities or on the roads. I think that Sunobe tanto and kodachi can also be considered the same. My point is that a traditional tachi is too big and unsuitable for "street wear" and small tanto are not a sufficent weapon for personal protection.

The only problem with this sword is that it is obviously very early in construction and in jiba. I am not prepared to give it a C14 test as it is ubu. I will chemically analise this sword soon and will have more data then.

cheers,
Adrian S


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 Post subject: Re: Has anyone seen a blade like this?
 Post Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:17 pm
Posts: 79
Adrian,

Regarding re-location hypothesis is likely. I'm suspecting the Uda smiths had their origin in the Hoju school as the ruler of the Ecchu regeon in Nanbokucho era was the Shiba family. Their original land was Osaki, Miyagino, where the Hoju smiths worked. Giving C14 testing on swords require a bit of stress on them, I expect better technology to come out.

Quote:
Absolutely! Thats my opinion too. I think that this is a "casual sword" not made for war, but for personal protection within the big cities or on the roads. I think that Sunobe tanto and kodachi can also be considered the same. My point is that a traditional tachi is too big and unsuitable for "street wear" and small tanto are not a sufficent weapon for personal protection.


There is an interesting satire from the Nanbokucho-era. 「鉛作ノオホ刀 太刀ヨリオホキニコシラヘテ 前サカリニソ指ホラス」 This states that, the nobles mimic the Kanto warriors, wearing lead made uchigatana sized bigger than tachi, sticking their tsuka very high. I don't know whether lead made means the blades were made out of lead or koshirae were made out of lead. But I'm sure very long uchigatana was the trend of the time.

Wataru


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