What does this sayagaki say?
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Posted 27 July 2017 - 07:21 PM
its on Aoi Art, looks recently sanded and sayagaki added.
Posted 27 July 2017 - 07:33 PM
Sorry, but that's all I was able to identify! There are some experts here who will know the rest!
Posted 27 July 2017 - 07:34 PM
Another one for an unscrupulous seller in the west. Forged sayagaki is probably so bad that it would never fool a native.
Posted 27 July 2017 - 07:53 PM
I think it says 濃州孫六兼元 and the sanded portion says 九八六丙寅年二月於久我山房 薫山誌
I was surprised at the start price of bidding on this one as it was higher than I thought it would be.
Posted 27 July 2017 - 08:14 PM
Stephen hit on 60% of the story.
There is a blonded area in the shirasaya. On an old shirasaya you prepare the surface by sanding it, to remove oil, wax, debris, give yourself a good surface for the ink to stick. When you sand it however it doesn't make a window like this and especially go back and look at the edges which are wavy. It's not possible to make a hard border wavy line with sandpaper, this was furniture stripper that went on with a brush and the wavy outline is natural then from it flowing a bit.
So something on the bottom was removed on purpose. Look at the top. That part has no such removal. The top is possibly legitimate.
Now, the vendor is not disclaiming this sayagaki but claims it is the signature of Kunzan (Dr. Honma Junji) in 1986. The upper part of the date inscription reads
九 - 9
八 - 8
六 - 6
丙 - fire
寅 - tiger
Obviously you see a problem here. Several. Someone forgot the "1" at the top for 1986, plus Dr. Honma along with the other Japanese experts did not use the Gregorian calendar, but used proper Japanese dating, this should have been Showa era.
So I think we can conclude very strongly that the bottom part is a complete fake. The vendor though in their description strongly backs the attribution from this fake sayagaki saying that if you remove the fake signature that this would pass as Kanemoto.
This fake sayagaki being the primary leverage. If this was described as a forgery then their description would read, "Fake signature of Kanemoto. Plus someone forged part of the sayagaki. Trust us this is legitimate work of Kanemoto." Yeah... ok.
Here's the kicker though. This is the final part of the story that you need to understand. How does something get like this in the first place?
Go back and consider the fake sayagaki part. The fake sayagaki is missing the length. The length should always be there. Why is the length there? The length is there because it is a FINGERPRINT. If the blade is not exactly the length on the sayagaki ... then the blade and sayagaki do not belong to each other.
This is the part that the forger removed.
This shirasaya belongs to a different sword than the one that is currently inside it.
If I were someone with no scruples and I wanted to maximize my revenue, this is what I would do:
1. Separate legitimate Kanemoto from its shirasaya. Sell Kanemoto in new shirasaya with good papers.
2. Erase length information from legit sayagaki.
3. Replace with fakery. I cannot record the length because I do not have a candidate sword to use it for, but since I know fake Kanemoto comes around, I will find one sooner or later. I have to do this NOW because I need the wood to oxidize and age where I stripped it. I don't have my fake yet, I am just storing this as a bonus for the future.
4. Set aside while I wait, this also lets the wood oxidize and start to match where I removed the original information. Ideally I leave this a long time. Depends on my balance of greed vs. desire to fake, remember, my best ally is people's greed who want to believe. Also it helps if they cannot read Japanese and see that the date is done incorrectly, and it helps if they have not studied much and don't have examples of Homma sayagaki in high resolution that they can compare against.
5. Keep trying until I find candidate blades that match my faked up shirasaya. They are all about the same length since it's end of Muromachi stuff so I know I will find one. Tweak shirasaya if necessary.
6. I find one, mount it, and I sell new combination of fake blade with Dr. Honma's attestation attached now. I don't offer any guarantee myself of course, but I just say this is Dr. Honma who made this. If someone asks me in private I will say you know, the NBTHK doesn't have Tanobe sensei in there now and they are too nervous to accept this. I think the mei is good I just want to be conservative on my site. Even if the mei is no good Dr. Honma thought it was good. So you can probably remove it and get Kanemoto for it. (And maybe that could actually happen, but that's not the point, I am dressing this whole thing in a pretty dress to set up a certain kind of mentality... Dr. Honma thought it was good and the NBTHK now is not reliable so you are given this impression now and again and again and you go on messageboards and then post based on this repeated information that you keep receiving and ...)
I only screw up if I am too greedy and put it up before the wood has properly oxidized.
There is an alternate scenario where just the bottom had some kind of an inscription and the shirasaya is original to this sword and so the entire top and bottom is faked. Same result.
/puts on photographers hat
What a scanner or camera sees and what your eyes see when you decide to do this are two different things. Your aging eyes in yellow incandescent light see what is available to see at 3000 kelvin color temperature. The scanner and the flash at 6000 kelvin see different colors since they use a different color light to induce the image for the camera.
What is obvious under a flash is not obvious under room lighting conditions, which could lead an observer to not see the removed parts of the sayagaki in room lighting.
This also holds true for swords, and is one way of detecting if a mei has been there and removed.
This Hiromitsu on my site for instance has a removed signature. I didn't know when I wrote it up because in room light the nakago looks uniformly patinated. This probably had a signature that was put over to Go Yoshihiro or else was just made mumei to fake it up as Sadamune if the removal was old enough. Compare the room lighting picture and then look at the same area on the flash photography photo. Deep gray on flash photography is very old, the oxide combination is different than on repatinated steel which retains more red. The work was done long ago according to the texture of the surface. But not as long ago as the original nakago according to the balance of oxides revealed by the higher temperature flash.
The take home here is not to distrust sayagaki. The take home is to look for these issues and when you find the issues, to realize that you are looking at a crime scene. You can walk backwards and recreate the crime with the information available to you.
Something that doesn't fool you may fool someone else. And the converse applies where something that doesn't fool someone else, may fool you. That is the second take-home.
Bear in mind too that it is pretty easy to make a shirasaya a little bit longer by adding some horn koiguchi and also just by splitting the shirasaya and reshaping it then regluing. Easy to shorten by cutting at the top. From there if one can use a magical tool that can search the internet to see if a legitimate Kanemoto was sold sometime in the recent past that might add some substance to the crime scene investigation.
(Edit: side note on the Hiromitsu it almost looks like there are three different ages of the surface coming out in the flash photo? If not three, then two. Maybe there is the original nakago which is to the upper left and retains some yasurime. Or that could be refinished. There may be a larger area then where maybe the original signature was wiped and then a fake installed over it. Then there is the final area where for sure a fake two character signature was removed and patinated over again. So this blade either had a long mei of Hiromitsu and then wiped for Sadamune or Go in nijimei and the surfaces all say this with three surfaces. Or it was a nijimei Hiromitsu which was wiped and altered for Go as "Yoshihiro" or Sadamune in nijimei. And yes the HIRO character is different from Go and Hiromitsu but that didn't stop this from happening, there is a Hiromitsu out there that has only one character on it now because the MITSU was wiped and the YOSHI was added above the Hiromitsu. In the modern era the YOSHI was wiped and then the HIRO is just left to stand on its own after all the games are over.)
Posted 28 July 2017 - 12:56 AM
Nice sleuthing, Darcy. Well worth keeping. I've gotta' be more suspicious!
Posted 28 July 2017 - 01:53 AM
I would suggest we all aim to become the, 'Baker Street Irregulars'...!
“It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”
— Mark Twain
Posted 28 July 2017 - 01:57 AM
Posted 28 July 2017 - 03:11 AM
What an education!
Posted 29 July 2017 - 11:10 AM
An excellent set of observations that I enjoyed reading
I think this approach could be used (on in my case tsuba) to carefully look at every feature to see if the whole is the sum of the parts (features)
How many of us have been guilty of wanting to believe so we look at the features to proof our initial conclusion rather than looking at the features to disproof our conclusion
Posted 05 August 2017 - 05:43 PM
Nice discussion Darcy! Thanks for the brain teaser.
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