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Ko Uda Spectacular Example


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#1 Vermithrax16

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Posted 24 August 2018 - 01:23 AM

Love Ko Uda swords and this one at Sanmei is a real dandy. Well worth a look:

http://www.sanmei.co...2066_PUP_E.html


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#2 raymondsinger

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Posted 24 August 2018 - 02:10 AM

Very beautiful. I wish it were possible to see the hamon better in their photos.
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#3 Vermithrax16

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Posted 24 August 2018 - 02:14 AM

I am sure they would provide some if asked.


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#4 TETSUGENDO

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Posted 24 August 2018 - 03:56 AM

That is one gorgeous piece Jeremiah, impressive!

 

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#5 Surfson

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Posted 26 August 2018 - 04:05 AM

I'm curious - do you know the price?  


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#6 Vermithrax16

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Posted 26 August 2018 - 04:43 AM

I don't see it listed anymore Bob, but I think it was around $30k


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#7 Jussi Ekholm

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Posted 26 August 2018 - 06:42 AM

Asking price was 2,7M Yen.


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#8 Marius

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 02:12 PM

Please enlighten me... What is special about this sword? It had an orikaeshi(?) mei that has been removed (my guess would be that the mei was Norishige). It has a nice shape and is relatively healthy. It is certainly a good sword, that the NBTHK has attributed to ko-Uda (a grab bag for swords with certain characteristics that cannot be credibly attributed to a sword smith).

 

It has what the NBTHK calls "chikei" (which is their damn right to do, of course) and which seem, in fact, to be the result of a particular forging technique using mixed steel. These chikei are very attractive and we all like them, but there is also another definition of chikei - arrays of steel particles that form a web disconnected form the patterns of the ha. I read that the latter are found in great swords, but even if they were present in this sword, we could not discern them in the pictures. Not in this polish anyway (regrettably, this type of modern polish is being applied even to the most valuable swords, defacing them IMHO - if you don't believe it, study the Norishige tanto at the Tokyo National Museum with its ridiculous notare-like whitening)

 

I used to own several "ko-Uda", all of them o-suriage mumei. I loved all of them - they were simple functional swords made with steel of varying quality in such an ingenious way that even with its mediocre steel the sword could still hold a sharp (hard) edge without being brittle.

 

None of them was contrived, their beauty was natural, it was a result of pure function and a certain tradition that you can see in very old swords (Shōsōin anybody?). They do not have those fascinating choji as Ichimonji. They were not as "perfect" and clean as many great Yamashiro swords (you certainly know what I mean). They lack the flamboyance of Soshu masters, nor do they show innovation like Kagemitsu's slanted hamon. But they are honest weapons. Like the one discussed here

 

So what is so special about this "ko-Uda" in your opinion? How does it differ from the other ko-Uda that can be bough cheaper? The potential it has to be papered to Norishige at some point? 

 

I am just being provocative, so feel free to bash me :)


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#9 Guest_Rayhan_*

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 06:45 PM

The factors that appeal to me on this one are:

Beautiful Sugata, very much Norishige like hada but i don't think it is a text book Norishige due to the kissaki shape, i could be wrong and hope i am.

The Hamon is beautifully understated but has a presence.

The kasane and mihaba are excellent indicators of a healthy sword.

The Juyo paper is pre 1970 and that means it passed rigorous testimony as pre 1970 shinsa was very tough. It might paper to Norishige but i doubt it.

The sword has no ware for its age

Most of all, this sword has a lot of soul, even from a picture that soul is apparent!

#10 Jean

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 07:15 PM

Subdued hamon is a kantei point in Norishige school (Tametsugu, Uda)
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#11 Vermithrax16

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 11:58 PM

I posted it, so what I loved:

- almost intact shape

- wildly healthy

- jingane is excellent

- not flashy or wild, just looks mean and evil

- early Juyo sword is pretty cool

 

I always check out Ko-Uda listings whenever they come up, and this one is one of the best over all swords I have seen.

 

Everyone is different, no worries Marius. I think I have let slip my general disregard for Bizen works a bunch of times. Surprised I was not banned  :)


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#12 Gakusee

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 12:49 AM

Good and healthy sword but nowhere near Norishige. Here we are starting a debate about tastes, which cannot have an objective resolution. A little bit like the the thread about Japanese swords being art vs high art vs functional art etc.... so, nothing to do with Bizen vs Yamato vs Yamashiro
Are Uda good and functional swords? Yes.
Could some of them be so good to be Juyo? Yes
Are they so good to be TokuJo? Not really, but that does not mean we should not like them.
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#13 Guest_Rayhan_*

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 07:24 AM

Are there really no Ko-Uda at Tokuju level? Anyone have a count, if any, as i am sure there are Norishige for certain

#14 paulb

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 09:10 AM

I have soft spot for some of the off-shoot schools based on techniques of the main traditions. This I think is a good example of ko-Uda and an attractive sword (at least in my mind) as are some of the better ko-Mihara and Enju work. There is a lot to like in this sword. I have recently seen a number of good swords trying to be Norishige, They are interesting and well made but placed side by side with an authentic work by that master they come nowhere near. This, if it was trying to be a Norishige falls well short of that goal.

I agree with Michael ko-Uda smiths produced some very good swords and every school has it's masterpieces this is a good work but I wouldn't class as outstanding.



#15 Jussi Ekholm

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 09:23 AM

I like Uda school too. I generally like the bit "rustic" appearance of more rural schools. They might not be the finest art there is but for a historical collector just basic swords of my liking tick enough boxes for me.

 

There are some very highly rated works by Uda school but they are signed. This must be taken into consideration, the highest ratings for Ko-Uda smiths are for signed pieces. There are 1 or 2 Jūbi tachi by Uda Kunifusa and I think 1 or 2 Jūbu tachi (don't know exactly how the designations carried on). Here is a Tokujū tachi by Uda Kunimitsu https://web.archive....o/item/a470.htm(I think this might be the Tokujū tachi attributed to 1st gen that is mentioned in one book).

 

I counted roughly c. 20 smiths from indexes that will make up the Ko-Uda school. Out of those I believe about 6 are rated, many of them are totally unknown. So if you have a signed piece from one of those 6 smiths you'll probably get to high level (historical / artistical value). I think the "problem" is that Uda school in general is not highly regarded apart from few good smiths and the same applied to Ko-Uda & pre-Muromachi swords and Uda swords from Muromachi.

 

Like Michael wrote above there is a huge gap in appreciation between Norishige and early Uda works. Is it justified? Well I don't want to go against common consensus but I think as a historical collector that some mumei swords are overvalued because of their attribution. That is just my personal opinion as I prefer signed or ubu mumei pieces in less than perfect condition over suriage mumei top tier condition. I think this example will show the difference in valuation a bit (my small statistics is just in the beginning but gives the idea). For Norishige 6 mumei blades, 3 Tokujū, 1 Jūyō and 2 are in museum collections. For Ko-Uda 23 mumei blades, 3 Jūyō, 12 Tokubetsu Hozon, 8 Hozon

 

I like the sword posted in the OP, I think it is a good sword but I think like Marius that I can get a Ko-Uda attributed sword with similarish attributes for a lot smaller price at Tokubetsu Hozon level. Of course Jūyō prestige carries a lot of weigh in pricing.


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#16 Jacques D.

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 09:29 AM

 

It has what the NBTHK calls "chikei" (which is their damn right to do, of course)

 

 

Marius,

 

No chikei on this sword, only ji nie



#17 Gakusee

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 10:53 AM

Excellent post, Jussi
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#18 Marius

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 10:59 AM

Marius,

 

No chikei on this sword, only ji nie

 

 

Jacques, as wiritten - I try not to confuse chikei with layers of mixed steel. But whether this sword has "real" chikei or not is really impossible to say just by looking at photographs. Also, I suspect that we get hung up on all those chikei, inazuma, kinsuji, sunagashi and what have you, because using these terms is fun and makes us look more like experts. 


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#19 Jacques D.

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 11:29 AM

Jacques, as wiritten - I try not to confuse chikei with layers of mixed steel. But whether this sword has "real" chikei or not is really impossible to say just by looking at photographs. Also, I suspect that we get hung up on all those chikei, inazuma, kinsuji, sunagashi and what have you, because using these terms is fun and makes us look more like experts. 

 

 

Marius, i didn't based my words on pictures of that sword, i just read the juyo paper which does not make mention of chikei.

 

ps i always say it's impossible to see hamon or hataraki on pictures, it's for that reason i think man should never buy a sword without having it in hand.

 

 

 

http://www.sanmei.co...13186_S2066.jpg



#20 Marius

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 11:33 AM

@Jacques,

 

Oh, my apologies. I stand corrected. 


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#21 Guest_Rayhan_*

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 11:36 AM

What else does the Juyo paper say Jacques!? :)

#22 Vermithrax16

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Posted 30 August 2018 - 01:51 AM

Danny at Nihonto Craft has a nice Ko Uda example (I think it's still for sale) which is great example at a lower price point. A lot to like in this package, sword, paper, sayagaki, nice habaki:

http://www.nihontocr...da_KatanTH.html

 

From above, I agree that one cannot visualize many activities from bad photos, I do believe you can see most that are important from GOOD photos.

 

EDIT:

And if a member here has this one and was ever looking to move on from it, you would want to contact me:

https://www.aoijapan...na-mumei-kouda/


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#23 Surfson

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Posted 30 August 2018 - 03:12 PM

You do like what you like Jeremiah.  Masamemania!


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#24 Jussi Ekholm

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 02:02 PM

Jeremiah, look what just popped up at Aoi for auction. ;-) Stunning sword, about only negative thing is the length.

 

https://www.aoijapan...na-mumei-kouda/


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#25 Stephen

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 04:52 PM

And really short...if one had same smith reall long like 30" they would make a great dai sho...lol
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#26 Vermithrax16

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Posted 17 September 2018 - 01:42 AM

The one I mentioned above has been relisted for sale by Aoi:

http://www.sword-auc...a-mumei-kouda-0


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#27 Gakusee

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Posted 17 September 2018 - 11:16 AM

Guys - there is a lot of misconception here about sword length etc. Darcy had done a very good study of sword lengths and how they cluster around certain inflexion points and local “peaks”.
We keep hearing about sword length but people really ought to read a little bit about the traditional sword lengths and what was in use at different times. A lot of old Koto blades that saw warfare in the Nanbokucho and Muromachi period were shortened to around 60-62 cm, which was practical for fighting. The next length up around which swords tend to experience suriage is 67-68cm. In fact, many Muromachi swords were originally made at that lengths (cf Muramasa, Sukesada etc).


Furthermore, the average Japanese had the following height in the following period:
- 1880s: 158cm
-1890s: 158cm
- 1900s: 159cm
-1910s: 160cm
-1920s: 161cm
-1930s: 161cm
-1940s: 163cm
and so on

Now, extrapolate backwards when famine prevailed and food culture and availability were different to the 19/20 century and you could arguable arrive at mid 140cm at best for the warring states period and Muromachi.

Tell me how could a person of such a stature draw a meter long sword that Americans and Europeans of larger stature noawadays so much marvel at and swing it around in close combat? It is obvious that for someone at 140 cm height, with his arm length, a sword in low-60s cm is plenty.

It is a completely different point about the display Shinto and Shinshinto swords, which people did not have to draw fast, they could wear for strutting around, etc. There you normally have 70-75cm. Oftentimes I see Edo koshirae housing venerable and high-quality Koto swords , but the saya is at least 20 cm longer than the sword inside! All of that probably for ostentatious display of having something putatively bigger than what it is.
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#28 Jean

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Posted 17 September 2018 - 12:29 PM

Just to illustrate Michael post

My swords

Naoe Shizu. 66 cm
Tegai/Hosho. 66,3 cm
Tametsugu. 67 cm
Yasumitsu Ubu. 70,3 cm
Ryokai. 70 cm
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#29 Marius

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Posted 17 September 2018 - 12:43 PM

@Gakusee

 

Excellent remark, Michael. Our fixation on length never ceases to puzzle. Is that perhaps some kind  of a "I have a longer... sword" boasting?  :laughing:

 

Given that also wakizashi-length swords were highy valued and given as rewards by warlords to their best generals (AFAIR Takeda Shingen has at some point given an masterpiece wakizashi to Baba Nobuharu) our insistence on long blades seems outright funny.

 

Of course, we have to take into account preferences prevalent in the market. Ubu is of course always desirable as the original shape is preserved, but length? Is my 59 cm ubu Fujishima uchigatana somehow inferior to a a 68cm ubu daito of the same school? I do not think so, do you? And why should be an osuriage daito with a 62 cm nagasa be inferior to a 70cm nagasa daito? OK, if we have a 110 cm "monster" then the value lies also in the rarity of such an item, but for a "standard" katana length of an osuriage daito, do 6 or 8 cm make such a difference?


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#30 Stephen

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Posted 17 September 2018 - 01:07 PM

Thats what he said!
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