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Evidence Of Reversed Menuki In History?


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#1 Katsujinken

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 12:50 AM

Hi folks,

I'm curious if anyone here has ever seen any evidence of menuki being "reversed" (so they settle into the palms and not the fingers when the tsuka is gripped).

It's a not uncommon choice among sword practitioners of certain styles today, and some claim it has a historical basis and improves grip and sensitivity.

Nakamura Taizaburo writes that the standard placement today – what he calls the Edo style – came about after the need for combat subsided, but that prior to that the menuki were in opposite positions as described above.

What say you, fine NMBers? Is there any historical evidence?
Michael

#2 Derek

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 12:59 AM

Hi Michael,

As I recall, Yagyu koshirae often exhibit reversed menuki placement.


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Derek

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#3 Katsujinken

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 01:06 AM

Ah yes, Yagyu Ryu is one of the schools known for doing this, but I had no idea there were extant koshirae that we could refer to. Very cool.
Michael

#4 Derek

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 01:07 AM

http://www.japaneses...-yagyu-koshirae

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If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.
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#5 Katsujinken

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 01:08 AM

I love this board.
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#6 Ford Hallam

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 01:10 PM

The 1985 Tokyo National Museum exhibition, and catalogue 1987, "Uchigatana-goshirae"  might be worth examining for evidence of what early Edo, and earlier, menuki placements might have been.

 

From a  quick browse though I'd suggest that the usual placement we see today, ie: under the finger tips, was most common even back then.     Thare are a number of tsuka illustrated that look pretty ancient and to have seen campaign use. Where there are menuki present, not always the case, they are in the usual position.

 

I think there is an unfortunate modern tendency to insist that everything on the sword has a functional reason for being there and while this may have some basis in terms of thing's origins true functionality is easily forgotten.   The earliest hilt ornaments we might equate with menuki are 'tawara-byo'. There are the little gilt 'rice straw bales' that act as rivets to secure the same in place on kazari-tachi koshirae. In my opinion menuki evolved from these and I think attempts to try to imply a purely functional reason for them (menuki) being on the sword might miss the reality that they more likely had votive or talismanic meaning and/or were to an extent fashion/status signifiers.


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#7 DirkO

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 02:14 PM

In the Daijisen dictionary (大辞泉, publisher Shôgakukan Inc, 小学館) menuki are described the following way: „Menuki (目貫), originally referring to the mekugi (目釘). Later a rivet-like ornament on the top of the mekugi which is visible on the sword hilt. Became later an independent decorative element of the sword hilt.“
 
Extract from the NBTHK-EB translation by Markus Sesko of "Menuki – Sono rekishi to igi ni tsuite" - 目貫・その歴史と意義について - "About the History and Meaning of menuki"
Iiyama Yoshimasa (飯山嘉昌) tôsô and tôsôgu expert Tôken-Bijutsu 9-2011, Nr. 656

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#8 Brian

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 03:40 PM

http://www.militaria...ki-orientation/


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#9 Katsujinken

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 03:58 PM

Enlightening! Thank you Brian.
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#10 Ford Hallam

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 03:09 PM

Just to add to the present accepted understanding of what menuki are/were I will quote  Arai Hakuseki (1657 - 1725) from his Honcho Gunkiko (Eighth Book).

 

"menuki are things to put through the menuki hole (menuki ana) , to prevent the blade of the sword from coming out of the handle."

 

[According to Japanese custom the term me (eye) is used to describe all sorts of holes, as, for instance, hikime (frog's eye), Inome (wild boar eye), etc.]

目 me = eye

貫 nuki =  crosspiece (between pillars, etc.); penetrating tie beam, to penetrate, to brace.

 

Hakuseki goes on to say;

" At the present day (circa 1700?) a mekugi is used in place of a menuki (to hold the blade) , and the menuki has become of no (practical) use."

 

So what actually happened was the name of the peg changed from menuki to mekugi. Then little ornaments were invented, with no practical function, and ended up being called menuki, which makes no sense at all. :dunno:

 

If you're interested in learning a little about this Edo period authority you'll find more on Wikipedia here.

 

"Arai Hakuseki (新井 白石?, March 24, 1657 – June 29, 1725) was a Confucianist, scholar-bureaucrat, academic, administrator, writer and politician in Japan during the middle of the Edo Period, who advised the Shogun Tokugawa Ienobu.[1][2] His personal name was Kinmi or Kimiyoshi (君美). Hakuseki (白石) was his pen name. His father was a Kururi han samurai Arai Masazumi (新井 正済)."


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#11 Ford Hallam

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 04:27 PM

Another little titbit to add to the story here. Something I happened on by accident this morning in the index of Henri Joly's  Sword and Same.

 

"Menuki: During the Fujiwara Period (presumably the Heian Period, 794–1185. ) rice bale shaped dummy rivets called sora menuki were placed on the haft (tsuka) , so that the lower edge of the nakago had to be notched to escape them."


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#12 John A Stuart

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 05:12 AM

You could call the menuki of the Uchigatana, Katana etc., Soramenuki, 'sora' meaning 'fake'. I think, Menuki actually refers more to the pierced hole itself, which we call Mekugiana now. The terminology has evolved. I wonder why the Nakago had to be notched? There was no actual rivet in the ornamental rice bale Menuki of the swords'  mentioned by Joly was there? John



#13 Ford Hallam

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 06:27 AM

According to Markus Sesko's Encyclopedia of Japanese Swords sora menuki are imitation/fake menuki or ornamental menuki, whereas actual menuki were the peg and called makoto menuki, true menuki.

 

Sora menuki, also called kasari menuki, came in to fashion from the Nambokucho period onwards.

 

 

 

 

 

I think, Menuki actually refers more to the pierced hole itself, which we call Mekugiana now.

 

To  refer to Arai Hakuseki again (1657 - 1725) from his Honcho Gunkiko (Eighth Book).

 

"menuki are things to put through the menuki hole (menuki ana) , to prevent the blade of the sword from coming out of the handle."


 

 


#14 John A Stuart

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 12:28 PM

A pic illustrating the rice bail soramenuki referenced earlier. John

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