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Well Carved Mei


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#1 Vermithrax16

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 02:51 AM

I have come around to the appreciation for well done mei. A small compilation of some pieces I care for:

Suifu Ju Katsumura Norikatsu (sword)

Ford Hallam (tsuba)

Tomohide (tsuba)

welldonemei.jpg


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#2 Ken-Hawaii

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 02:55 AM

I'd never thought much about it, but do you think that mei degraded, or got sloppier, as tosho aged? I know that my own signature barely resembles what it looked like back in my 20s & 30s.


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#3 SAS

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 03:06 AM

I agree that it could change over time, mine has too.


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#4 Vermithrax16

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 03:26 AM

Ken and Steve S, my own signature looks different every time even now, as we are in the digital age. I sign my scientific notebooks by digital sign off. In 10 years probably way different on the few checks I sign.

 

As for nihonto; No. Mei work can vary in style (block cut---- grass script----etc) but the execution is usually excellent for any example. At least from what I have seen.


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#5 Geraint

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 11:45 AM

Dear All.

 

Just  few random thoughts sparked by Jeremiah's post.  I do agree that a well done  mei has a beauty all its own.  The calligraphy is distinctive between different makers and one can recognise certain styles from certain hands, e.g. Chikuzen Moritsugu, Shigetaka and so on.  However a mei on a nakago or a piece of tosogu is not the same as a signature done with a pen or pencil.  I "sign" my work and while the size varies depending on the size of the piece there is a consciousness about the cutting of my "mei" that puts it on an altogether different level to the scrawl that is my pen signature.  The mei is a part of the craft, it is carefully and skilfully executed. Of course the content can vary for a host of reasons; new honorific, adoption of a Buddhist name, change of place of work, new name based on kanji taken from a superior's name and so on.  With some smiths there is a conscious change of style to take into account; kaku Tsuda and maru Tsuda for example.

My basic point remains, there is a deliberate and thoughtful approach to making these marks that is absent from our signatures.

 

I am sure that we have all at some point in our collecting history had that piece which is, "signed by a really famous guy", and that we have all clutched at the straw, "well my signature has changed a lot over the years", in defiance of the evidence that our beloved piece is in fact gimei.  However I think we need to separate any association between our signatures and the crafted and often beautiful mei on the works we love.

 

All the best.


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#6 SAS

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 01:43 PM

Not to defend gimei, but one thing I do not hear discussed is how physical changes in the body are reflected in the appearance of work, such as the effects of arthritis in the hands, etc. My hands can feel like stuffed sausages after an intense session in the shop; I can imagine this could have had effects on mei, and we would probably not have anything documenting the fact.


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#7 Stephen

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 02:53 PM

I seriously doubt any smith would sign the day that he finished forging would be done on another day or they hired someone to do it, which was often the case.
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#8 Death-Ace

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 04:09 PM

Agreed. We have all seen or heard of works papered to a smith that are mumei due to rejections to the same person.

Thank you for posting this, I have wondered if some signatures were just unique or due to condition or age as a swordsmith's years went on. Of course, an unusual "strong" signature in a smith's later life or whatnot could have various reasons, whether by his hand or an apprentice. As Steve said, one factor is that it could tell a smith's condition or maybe emotional state as painters/sculpters/writers do.

This is why I do not think gimei should not be removed, if "original" to the blade. While a bit more naive and maybe optimistic, it could have been a tribute/copy, an ato mei, etc., although it most likely is just a deceitful gimei. You can still tell a smith/school without a signature or modded yasurime due to removal. They can also be a learning point to who did gimei, which smiths they emulated the signature, when they they did it. Historically, it could point to a smith trying to put his name out and/or earn money, technically speaking, when times/finances were bad, etc. And putting timeframe of gimei by other smiths in the same, could have reflected sword markets' supply/demand. A bit far-fetched, but I think it is interesting.

Unfortunately, most smiths appear that have not kept a journal, some were illiterate, or maybe a few were lost in time. It would be a nice way to see a smith's personal work changed with artistic appeal, mood etc. With more documentation.
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#9 Tom Darling

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 04:42 AM

The mei looks a little groggy to me. Peace.

 

 

 

Tom D.



#10 PNSSHOGUN

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 08:59 AM

How so?


John


#11 Tom Darling

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 08:01 PM

Aesthetically unacceptable to the kaji Norikatsu/Tokukatsu.  I'll post a pic of one I had as soon as I can.  Peace.

 

 

Tom D.



#12 raymondsinger

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 09:07 PM

The mei looks fine to me.






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