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Everything posted by mas4t0

  1. It's from Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156-1868 (Metropolitan Museum of Art) It's been out of print for a few years, but it's available to download for free as a PDF from the MET website. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Art_of_the_Samurai_Japanese_Arms_and_Armor_1156_1868
  2. I think this is well captured by another quote from Ogawa Morihiro (on the same page as the quote above). Before the Meiji era, when swords were still used as practical weapons of war, a fine blade was so esteemed that a samurai would make virtually any sacrifice in order to obtain a great sword that would protect him on the battlefield. The sword — often called the "spirit of the samurai” — was also the most coveted of gifts, to be given or exchanged on auspicious occasions and special events. In addition, after victory in battle generals often presented renowned swords to their commanders who had achieved military success, regarded as the highest honour by the recipient. Indeed, just one superior sword conveyed more meaning, and more prestige, than gifts of large domains or any quantity of gold, silver, paintings, and other treasures. The following is one example illustrating the scope of the samurai's obsession with swords. It concerns the tachi named “Ikkoku Kanemitsu” (One Province Kanemitsu) in the possession of the family of Duke Yamanouchi, formerly lords of Tosa han, which is designated an Important Cultural Property. In the early Edo period, this sword, by Bizen Kanemitsu, was highly reputed as a very great sword indeed. Having heard of it, Tokugawa Yorinobu, son of Tokugawa leyasu and the ancestor-founder of the Kishū Tokugawa family, asked Tōdō Takatora, a famous general under leyasu, to obtain the sword for him from the Yamanouchi family. The story goes that Yamanouchi Tadayoshi refused the request, to which Tōdō Takatora replied, “Even though you say that, if it were a command of the shogun you would have to give up the sword." Tadayoshi countered, saying that he "would return the whole province of Tosa” — an area covering the whole of present-day Kōchi Prefecture and nearly priceless in value — but would “never part with the great sword by Kanemitsu.” Swords made by famous smiths were, accordingly, extremely difficult to obtain, and for that reason fakes purporting to be the work of famous smiths have been made even since ancient times. In the Kanchi-in Bon Meizukushi — a 1423 copy of a Kamakura-period treatise on swords, kept in the Kyōo Gukoku-ji, Kyōto — it is recorded that cleverly made fakes of blades by the early Kamakura period swordsmith Bungo no Kuni Yukihira were in circulation, and it explains how the fakes could be recognised. In another instance, there were apparently so many blades purported to be the work of the famous seventeenth century smith Kotetsu, it was often said that if you see one hundred swords with his signature then without doubt you have seen one hundred fakes. I realise that this is well known to all participants in this thread, but it might be of interest to some people reading along.
  3. I think it is important that we take an integrative approach and consider the blade in its proper context; at least all the parts of a sword (blade, koshirae, etc) and ideally also the other accoutrements such as kimono or armour, bows, etc. Additionally it isn't really fair to compare to painting as a whole. The Japanese sword is one part of a unique culture and aesthetic. How successful would we expect an Ancient Egypt exhibition to be if only swords were displayed? This isn't to deride the Japanese sword in any way, but rather to illustrate that it is punching well above its weight as an art object. Comparison to suiboku-ga (sumi-e) is perhaps fairer, where there are defined boundaries and limitations. Some of the finest art in all domains comes from the creative and innovative ways an artist overcomes the constraints of their medium. I think this quote from Ogawa Morihiro is perhaps worth sharing: If the Japanese sword can be likened to a picture, it would relate aesthetically to the black ink paintings known as suiboku-ga. The bright and dark, clearly polished jigane would be analogous to the paper, and the yakiba, with the appearance of white blossoming flowers, for example, would represent how the black ink is said to display "five colours," meaning the impression of colour derived through variations in tone. In order to preserve this essential beauty and carry the polished sword, a scabbard of soft wood is made to contain the blade. To strengthen the scabbard, and to protect the blade against humidity, the scabbard is covered overall with lacquer. The other components of a sword mounting (discussed more fully in the essay titled "Sword Mountings and Fittings" in this volume) include a hilt (tsuka), whereby the sword is gripped in the hands, which is typically wrapped with ray-skin and bound with cords or leather to protect it from fracture under violent impact. The ends of the wooden portions of the scabbard are protected by metal fittings, and a tsuba (sword guard) is attached, protecting the palms of the hands and aiding adjustments to the overall balance. Accordingly, the Japanese sword can be said to represent the essence of several traditional crafts and fine arts represented by three specialist groups: swordsmiths, polishers, and the makers of sword mountings and fittings.
  4. What's the discolouration just above the habaki? The blade edge looks almost scalloped in areas and there's some unusual reflections along the face of the blade which give the impression of a wavy surface. I'm not sure if it's the camera, the lighting or the blade.
  5. I wouldn't be too concerned; buffing shouldn't have done too much harm. It obviously isn't a good thing to have done, but buffing with a cloth is very different to grinding the blade on a stone. Given that it has clearly been buffed I wouldn't be surprised if the person had done other damage to the blade.
  6. Does it matter whether the categories are strictly correct, or only that a useful taxonomy is established? A taxonomy describes, names and classifies things based on shared characteristics and helps us categorize, organize and communicate information more clearly and efficiently. The benefits of the taxonomy stem from the information embedded within the data structure itself. It's far more useful to group animals by taxonomic rank (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species) than to group them by their colour. We can identify an unknown animal as a beetle based on phenotypic traits without ever having seen a member of that species before. A very brief glance will tell us that it's an animal, an arthropod and an insect (from the order Coleoptera). This taxonomic information contains a lot of embedded information. Without any prior experience with this species, we can guess with high probability that it has undergone complete metamorphosis and was previously an egg, a larva and a pupa before reaching adulthood. We also know with certainty that it can't asexually reproduce and many other things that I won't bore you with. That got quite entomology heavy, but I'm sure you can see the parallels to sword kantei. I'm much better at insect identification than I'll ever be at sword kantei, but it is the same process and the taxonomy is doing most of the heavy lifting in both cases. My point being that the taxonomy is of great value regardless of whether or not it is strictly correct (whether in a historical or genetic sense). It also greatly increases repeatability and reproducibility of judgements, I guess it's debatable whether it increases reliability or only increases consensus.
  7. mas4t0

    Tsuba reading

    Yeah, that’s what I thought too!
  8. This is likely to be the key piece of evidence. Hopefully this will be enough to have them release it, but if not I'm sure it'll be very valuable in court. In my (limited) experience, these people are quite readily persuaded by expert opinions given from a position of authority (which they recognise as valid).
  9. Kindle books have some solid DRM to prevent copyright infringement, so you can't do much without removing the copy protection. There's a free piece of software available from Amazon called Kindle Create which allows authors to quickly and easily convert documents into properly formatted e-books and publish them on Amazon. It takes under an hour to go from a word document to a published e-book. If Yurie's contract with Alpha allows for this, it would be best to re-publish the e-book this way. I could do the work in Kindle Create for her (obviously at no charge) and send her the files, but she'd need to publish it from her account.
  10. Matt, It would be best to first decide which style of koshirae you're going for. If you already have tosogu then their era, school, level of opulence, etc will help you determine the appropriate style of koshirae and thereby the reasonable options for the saya. An overall koshirae can turn out quite poorly if you focus myopically on individual component parts. A reference book with lots of examples would be the best place to go for inspiration, but you'll see a few examples here: https://www.nihonto.com/uchigatana-koshirae/ https://markussesko.com/2014/10/ Here's some specific examples I'm sure you'll enjoy: https://yuhindo.com/goto-mitsunobu-yokoya-nobusada-daisho/ https://yuhindo.com/hoshizukiyo-kencho/ https://yuhindo.com/mutsu-no-kami-tadayoshi/ https://yuhindo.com/hatakeda-moriie/ https://yuhindo.com/rai-kunitoshi-4/ https://yuhindo.com/imagawa-shizu-meito/ https://yuhindo.com/kanemoto-katana/ https://yuhindo.com/ko-yamashiro-gojo-tachi/ https://yuhindo.com/awataguchi-yoshimitsu/ https://yuhindo.com/samonji/
  11. +1 I'd very much appreciate some more thoughts and opinions on these lots. I've only been studying Japanese armour for a few months, so I won't muddy the waters with my twaddle.
  12. The profile is reminiscent of a German (Wusthof, etc) kitchen knife. The tang is in the Japanese style, and would be used with a wa handle. It's a somewhat unusual combination as Japanese double bevel kitchen knives such as Gyuto and Sujihiki (but obviously not Nakiri, Santoku, etc) are generally based on the French profile (Sabatier, etc) and European knives generally have Western style handles. It's even more unusual that it was pretending to be a kogatana.
  13. https://web.archive.org/web/20170328123936/http://www.n-p-s.net:80/musubi4.htm
  14. Ford, Would it be of any assistance to have someone organise and compile your old posts, relevant to this volume? I'm sure they represent thousands of hours of work and there's more than enough content. I have a lot of time on my hands right now, and my secretary has had almost nothing to do for the last year, so it really wouldn't be any trouble. I did back the project, but I don't really care about the book. I personally would prefer that you abandoned the project, called it a failure and focussed on yourself. As you are dedicated to completing the book, I'm offering this in case it might be of assistance to you. If you would like to take me up on this, or if you can think of anything else I could do to assist, please let me know. I read about 800 pages most days, so I would probably be able to go through everything you've written on this site by this time tomorrow.
  15. I don't recall ever seeing an NBTHK papered tachi tsuba photographed edge down on the papers. I think I've seen quite a few edge up, but I don't have anything on file to share, and could be mistaken.
  16. Is postage really that cheap within SA or is it being subsided by the seller?
  17. What do you mean by "tournament quality"?
  18. I tried reading the background on your website and only got about half way though; could you condense the story somewhat? How long do you believe it's been missing for? From the sounds of things, it could have been lost, sold or misplaced decades ago.
  19. To clean up after my prior posts, I have no doubt that the court will find in Tony's favour (if it goes that far without being resolved). You are in excellent hands and will likely get this resolved before it gets to court. The questions I posed before are not real questions I'm asking you, just things it's worth ensuring you can confidently answer if it does go to court.
  20. The important information here is not to know the traditional handmade methods, but rather to know the machine processes, which falls within the purview of an engineer. The specifics of the traditional processes is not the relevant information to determine if something is hand made; rather a detailed knowledge of what is possible with machinery. This way we can pursue a null hypothesis. You cannot prove a negative, you cannot prove it is handmade with information about handmade processes, you can only conjecture. To let an engineer explain why the blade could not be made with modern machine processes, and that as such it must be made by traditional ones (to which the exemption applies) is a much stronger argument. The issue I'm addressing here is not whether the sword is a genuine nihonto, but how to establish that it is definitely exempt. The primary traditional hand forming techniques are forging and stock removal. It seems clear from the modern production blades available for sale in the UK (without the need for a licence) that the working interpretation of the legislation is: if the blade were formed by hand, the blade is exempt. Empirically we can see this to be the case as: blades with non-traditional heat treatment are not excluded. blades made from mill steel (monosteel) are not excluded on account of the steel not having been hand made. furthermore, there is no way to know if a monosteel blade was drawn out by hand or if the blade was formed entirely through stock removal on a belt grinder, with no forging by the "smith". Since none of the above are excluded from the exemption, we can conclude that hand forging, traditional heat treatment, and traditional steel are not required to qualify for the exemption. So what is excluded? Blades formed by means other than forging and stock removal by hand: which would be stamping primarily and stock removal by CNC or other machine processes. The rub though is that hand finishing will erase all evidence of non-traditional machining, other than in the case of a stamped blade. A stamped sword is very thin, as it's made of sheet metal. A CNC machining process could achieve the correct cross sectional geometry, and would leave behind tells, but you only need to run it on a belt grinder for a few minutes to remove all evidence. It could equally be argued that by completing the blade with a hand finishing process, the blade has been hand made by traditional methods. As the final stage was evidently to stock remove by hand, it's just a matter of degrees. Are you taking it from a billet to a blade by cutting it to a rough shape with a saw and then shaping it on a grinder, or roughing it out a CNC mill and then finishing on the grinder. Does this change whether the blade is handmade or not? There's no difference in the end product, so I would have to go with no. My point is simply that the legislation is not specific to Nihonto, and as such, specific knowledge of Nihonto is not necessary to prove the exemption. The only blade definitely not hand made by traditional methods is a stamped sheet metal blade. Ultimately the real restriction is on cheap, low quality blades, which are likely to be used as weapons. If we are trying to assess the manufacturing method of an item, "A", and I describe how it would be made by traditional methods and you (as the engineer) then describe how it would be made by modern machine tools; have I proven it was made by traditional methods? If you weren't there to explain how it could be made with modern machine tools, would I have proven anything in the above example? If, on the other hand, we are trying to assess the manufacturing method of item, "B", and I describe how it would be made by traditional methods, and you then explain that it could not have been made by any non-traditional method; has anything been proven? Would the same thing have been proven if the explanation of traditional methods had not been provided? I concur. This is the point I was making. It's not about who is really the expert, but rather who will be accepted as the expert and trusted by the court on that basis. Many people will fit the bill as an expert witness, but there's the issue of availability, rates and expenses. There's no need for a world class expert, but only for someone who is accepted by the court as impartial, trustworthy, and more knowledgable than anyone else in attendance. For clarity for the sake of anyone overseas accustomed to a different system, the UK system does not allow for each side to bring in their own biased experts, but rather calls for a single, mutually acceptable expert witness who's allegiance is to the court and not to either side (irrespective of who is paying him). In the higher courts there's a process by which you commission an expert report months in advance of the trial and provide it to the other side. They then pose their questions and seek clarification from the expert witness, and the answers to these matters are incorporated into the final report supplied by the expert at trial. This way there is no real need for the expert to attend the trial and both sides are aware of the expert testimony ahead of time, which is useful in reaching out of court resolutions. This type of system is seemingly not in place in the magistrates court and I'm not sure what happens if the expert is not available on the day to give evidence in person. I have no experience or knowledge of this, but my (uninformed) inclination is to seek an expert who can attend and give oral evidence on the day, even if they are a lower tier expert. This can of course be in addition to other evidence, such as a written report by a more esteemed expert who is unable to attend in person (which may or may not be accepted as expert witness evidence). How does an individual prove this authentication to the court? Wouldn't we need a trusted impartial 3rd party to confirm to the court that the papers were authentic and that they had been in touch with the NBTHK to confirm this? Presumably a legal professional could also have the papers authenticated and give his word, on the record, to having verified their validity. In the case of a litigant in person, it seems like low hanging fruit for the opposing barrister. I am of course not a barrister or a legal professional of any kind, but I would certainly look to undermine the papers if I were the opposing barrister and it would be quite difficult to defend if preparations hadn't already been made. I don't think radiocarbon dating would be accurate to determine age for the majority of antique swords. The half-life of radiocarbon is 5730 years, so the acceptable range would be from around 1/10th to 10x that length of time; approximately 573 - 57,300 years. It would be something, but papers, documentation, provenance and other standard historical records would likely be the best way to establish things. To be pedantic, you're really dating the wood, which was used to produce the charcoal, which was used in the tatara to produce the steel. Antique steel does not necessarily mean antique sword. I concur that NBTHK certificates and existing documentation are the key pieces of evidence, my point really was they they are not in English and they need some unpacking. It's entirely reasonable for the border force and the court to not trust a translation and explanation provided by the person wanting to import a (potentially illegal) weapon. A professor of Japanese studies (for instance) would be able to quickly get to grips with what the NBTHK is and explain this to the court; read and interpret the documents, etc. Most importantly they could be trusted to understand the documents and to communicate their content accurately and in an unbiased way.
  21. Keep in mind that this is an ongoing process and they may change their mind prior to court if presented with compelling evidence. Ensure that your indignation isn't noticeable at any stage (especially in court) otherwise it would be wise to consider legal representation. No matter how much you know, you won't be considered an expert witness. Knowing something is quite different from being able to prove it, especially when you won't be taken at your word due to having skin in the game. How will you authenticate the Japanese papers and prove they're not forgeries? Who will translate the papers, and how will the court know that your translation is accurate and unbiased? The court will likely lack the pre-requisite knowledge to judge the validity of any evidence or expert testimony presented, so will tend to trust credentials. To illustrate the point... a random member of the public; an Oxbridge history professor, who is a member of the Royal Historical Society and a recipient of the Cundill History Prize; a religious apologist; an ancient alien theorist on the History Channel. ...will each come to vastly different interpretations of the same historical evidence, and only one of them should be trusted to give expert testimony (with regards to the aforementioned historical evidence) in a court of law. The age is likely best "proven" in court by arranging the attendance of a knowledgeable staff member from a local antiques shop or museum. That way your can keep expenses to a minimum as they'll only have to travel a few minutes. The manufacturing techniques are likely best "proven" by arranging the attendance of an engineer, who has professional accreditation and can talk the court through the production processes involved.. This might be worth a look to add further clarity. The magistrates court is much less formal than the higher courts, but of course the same principles apply. An Expert Witness can be anyone with knowledge or experience of a particular field or discipline beyond that to be expected of a layman. The Expert Witness's duty is to give to the Court or tribunal an impartial opinion on particular aspects of matters within his expertise which are in dispute. A letter from Michael could of course constitute expert evidence, but you'd need to provide full disclose of any pre-existing relationship. If you were to rely on it as expert evidence, it may be expected that Michael attend the hearing (leave would need to be arranged) or else the evidence may be inadmissible. Section 30 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 states that an expert's report is admissible as evidence of fact and opinion, whether or not the expert attends court to give oral evidence. If it is not proposed to call the expert witness, the leave of the court must be obtained prior to introducing it. In considering whether to grant leave, the court will have regard to: The contents of the report; The reasons why it is proposed that the expert will not give live evidence; The risk that it may not be possible to controvert statements in the report if the expert does not attend;
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