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 Post subject: tang translation
 Post Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:18 am 
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Hello. I have two Japanese swords my father gave me. Although he was a WWII veteran, he did not obtain them overseas. I decided to use a flatbed scanner instead of using a digital camera and got much better results than I've had in the past. I am writing to request help translating the inscription on the tang. I am fond of the brass fitting which seems to depict a stylized waveform. I am obviously interested in getting some idea how old it might be and how much it might be worth.
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 Post subject: Re: tang translation
 Post Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:44 am 
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Ciano -
i am afraid we should go back to the digital camera or you should retake your scans at higher rez cropping out all the white space.

this looks to be a joint work by Tadatsuna and Tadakuni so very intriguing at first glance but the images are not good enough to tell us much more.

looking forward to your efforts,
-t (for Tom or Toryu)

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 Post subject: Re: tang translation
 Post Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:28 pm 
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Toryu wrote:
Ciano -
i am afraid we should go back to the digital camera or you should retake your scans at higher rez cropping out all the white space.

this looks to be a joint work by Tadatsuna and Tadakuni so very intriguing at first glance but the images are not good enough to tell us much more.

looking forward to your efforts,
-t (for Tom or Toryu)


Thank you, Toryu [Tom]! The scans are hi res, getting them to a format which will post here is going to be a challenge. I will go to a desktop computer and try to get better images than my notebook and Windows image allowed. This may take a day or two. Thank you for working through the poor images. Does the stylized wavefront brass fitting have any meaning or represent any particular Japanese aesthetic style/ideal, i.e., Shibui, Wabi-sabi?


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 Post subject: Re: tang translation
 Post Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 6:27 am 
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Ciano et al -
I took the liberty of rotating and cropping your scans - unfortunately the omote image is still crooked. You can now clearly see the signature. I would love to see some close ups of the blade, especially the boshi and monouchi.

A terrific research project you have here...
-t

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 Post subject: Re: tang translation
 Post Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 6:33 am 
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See attached!!


Attachments:
tang 2.jpg
tang 2.jpg [ 81.92 KiB | Viewed 7663 times ]
tang 1.jpg
tang 1.jpg [ 101.49 KiB | Viewed 7663 times ]

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Thomas C Helm
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 Post subject: Re: tang translation
 Post Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:29 pm 
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Toryu, You beat me to the post! I used a library desktop computer and cropped these from the original scans today using Picasa. I took the liberty of adding light and contrast,but I forgot to properly orient them. I will be happy to take photos of the blade [ I am not familiar with boshi or monouchi ], measurements, whatever. Do you have any preliminary impressions as to what the tang reads? Thanks, again.

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 Post subject: Re: tang translation
 Post Posted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:52 am 
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Ciano -
I don't mean to be so cryptic. I have a full translation of your signature but wanted to hold off in case others were working on it and because I was hoping to see details of the blade.

The proper way to examine (Kantei) a blade is to look at blade first and then nakago (tang/signature). We really want to see your blade because the signature suggests the work of two very famous smiths; Tadatsuna/Tadakuni

Extant signatures by these two artists are exceeding rare, therefore I am withholding judgement until we see photos of the blade. The Boshi/kissaki would be the one or two inches at the tip of the blade. The monouchi, the four or five inches below that. If you can the four or five inches above the habaki as well.

We like to let first time posters explore the info available online, we like to offer help without revealing our opinions too early. This is an interesting sword and if you like I am happy to offer what I think is the full translation of your signature.

-t

P.S. note that I have a signature attached, we always like to see posters sign with some kind of name...

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 Post subject: Re: tang translation
 Post Posted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:05 pm 
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Toryu, I am excited to read your translation. You could color your text to match the background which would mean I and others would have to consciously highlight in order to read it. I measured the sword through its arc from tang end to tip and got right at 27.5". I was using a carpenters metal tape measure, not a yardstick, so I might be off by 1/16" or more. I'm not sure this is a metric which will help, of course.
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 Post subject: Re: tang translation
 Post Posted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:10 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: tang translation
 Post Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:01 am 
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Ciano -
You're gonna hate me, cause while these photos are helpful they are not quite good enough to answer some key questions. I can see the shape is in keeping with the period for these two smiths. I can see that the hamon is sugu-ha and the boshi looks OK for Osaka Shinto. Tadatsuna was famous for Bizen den and elaborate horimono however the first generation did do sugu-ha. And if we believe this is an early work of the second generation then sugu-ha might have been something simple to attempt.

That said the photos need to be close-ups and high rez, all that blue carpet is just wasted pixels. You really should crop all that out before posting.

For the signature, since I know you want to know and you kindly shared your photos here is what I think I see;

粟田口近江守忠綱同嫡子忠国

Awataguchi Ômi (no) Kami Tadatsuna dô Chakushi Tadakuni
以南蛮鉄作之
Nanban tetsu wo motte kore wo tsukuru

So what does this mean? Awataguchi Ômi no Kami Tadatsuna (the artist) and Awataguchi (dô = ditto) Tadakuni, his natural born son (Chakushi) made this using western steel (Nanbantetsu)
On the surface this is a really exciting signature, a joint work by the first and second generation, using western steel, a rare thing for this school. However try as I might I could not find any good examples of the Tadakuni mei - it is listed in the Meikan (phone book) or something very similar, and there are other works that were made with nanban tetsu but if I had to say, it almost seems as if someone created a signature that would excite.

That said, looking at the photos of the signature so far I think that there are enough similarities in the characters to warrant serious research but also some worrisome differences that make me feel this is gimei (fake signature). If we believe the mei was cut by Tadakuni and not Tadatsuna then we need a valid example of a Tadakuni mei or I think we have to view this with extreme skepticism since this is almost too good to be true.

In the end the blade is the thing, we need better photos and it really needs to be examined in hand - it seems a decent sword and all swords should be cared for. I really do look forward to seeing more photos and perhaps some time seeing it in hand...
-t

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Thomas C Helm
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www.ncjsc.org
www.toryu-mon.com


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