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IanB last won the day on January 13

IanB had the most liked content!


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  1. Piers, Your escapade with the gunto, coincidently matches a similar event that happened to me. Rambling around an arms fair my eye was caught by a sword with a leather saya cover and carrying ring that had black tsuka ito on the slightly curved tsuka. The fuchi and kabutogane were in shakudo with gold borders as was the matching tsuba. Rather than the more usual nanako, the shakudo areas were lightly punched with overlapping circles that form 6 pointed star / flower shapes. Clearly it was very far from being a normal gunto. A bit of feeling through the leather suggested that there was a lot more metalwork on the scabbard tan normal and clearly indicated it was a sword in an old koshirae that had been fitted with the leather cover before being dragged around South East Asia. Accompanying the sword was a plastic bag containing photos, documents and a flag. Although not cheap, waving a bundle of notes persuaded the dealer to drop his asking price a bit, and on impulse I bought it. I had noted the length of the blade (nagasa 71cm) and having removed the hilt found it had a two character signature that read Tomomitsu 友光. The high shinogi and general appearance suggest it was by a Yamato smith by that name working around 1400. The related documents contained a document which I had never seen before and which others might find interesting:- CAPTURED ENEMY WAR MATERIAL - RETENTION CERTIFICATE 185, issued from the General Staff, General Headquarters, India. dated 3 January 1946. Reference India Army Order 541/45, the retention of (in ink script) 'One Japanese officers sword' as a trophy is hereby authorised. This permit is issued subject to the owner complying with local civil laws in force and must be producednon demand. The retention of any item captured from the enemy without a certificate is published (crossed out in ink and replaced by the word 'prohibited). It is signed by a Captain Barber (?) and issued to a Major Findlay. There is also a photo of a Japanese officer handing over a sword to what looks like an Air commodore. As the saya turned out to be slightly damaged under the leather and is now being repaired, I will refrain from posting images of the sword until that is done. Ian Bottomley
  2. An interesting thread indeed. The UK is fortunate in that contact with Japan occurred not only during the 16th and 17th centuries, but also very soon after Japan was 'opened ' during the 19th century. For a while during the late 19th century there was a considerable interest in Japanese art and culture during which a considerable quantity of Japanese art of all types, including swords and fittings, was imported into the UK. Retailers such as Liberties in London sold vast quantities of lacquer work and other treasures, and if stories are to believe, even used woodblock prints as wrapping paper. Other tales are told of tsuba, tied in dozens on a string, being sold on the London docks, having served as ballast in ships. There is even a fleeting mention of a Japanese armour in one of the Sherlock Holmes stories. All this points to the fact that there still remains a considerable number of armour, swords and considerable quantities of fittings in the UK. We are also fortunate in that some of the earlier collectors have left a corpus of valuable reference material in publications such as the Journal of the Japan Society. This initial enthusiasm for all things Japanese dwindled around the close of the 19th century, becoming positively antagonistic after WWII. It is to such people as B.W. Robinson, whose writings during the post war period, rekindled the current widespread interest. To this earlier category must be added the not inconsiderable number of swords brought back by soldiers who fought in the Far East during WWII. All of this preamble leads up to the obvious statement that we in the UK are blessed in living in a country rich in swords, armour and fittings. Whist there now exist severe restrictions on the acquisition of swords from abroad, plenty of swords are available at arms fairs and many more are available from public auctions. Some of these items are of considerable merit, many having belonged to those who began collecting after WWII and who are now dying off. There are lots of good items out there if you take the trouble to learn what is worth having. Ian Bottomley
  3. Perhaps less obvious is the change in appearance of a blade. When newly made and given its first polish, the smith would examine it for defects before passing it to its first owner. What they saw would be lost after the next polish which cut away the original surface. Subsequent polishes would gradually reveal what had initially been the interior of the blade. In other words when we gaze in admiration at the activity in a koto blade, it is a bit sobering to think that we, and the last polisher, are the only people who have seen that incarnation of the blade that probably differs considerably from what its maker saw. Ian Bottomley
  4. Piers, Officially it is 4th September, but in reality I stopped having them as they are too much of a reminder of my mortality. To counter the problem, I have been going backwards for some time now and have reached the grand old age of 63. Ian
  5. Jan, A Happy New Year to you and other Vikings. I now have three teppo - a Saki one covered in fancy brass ornament, the Satsuma gun and now this. Thanks to Piers I also have a primer and a powder flask. All I need now is a bullet mould and I have the complete outfit. I have shot the Sakai gun with powder and a wad only. Great fun Ian
  6. Ray and Piers, Many thanks for your wishes for the new year as well as on the gun. Problem solved. It goes well with my Sakai and Satsuma ones. May I return my best wishes to you both in return. Ian
  7. As I usually do, I make a point of buying a Christmas present for myself as a counter to the inevitable socks / shirt / sweater (delete where appropriate) from my nearest and dearest. This year, a scan through the auctions failed to find a sword of any interest, but a teppo in an auction normally devoted to modern shotguns sparked by interest and was duly acquired. When Christmas day dawned, I found to my delight that I was now the proud owner of what appeared to be a military gun that might have some age. There is no kamon or other decoration on the octagonal barrel or stock, other than the usual flower shaped around the mekugi holes. The gun has a bore of just over 16mm, which equates to 7 momme, with a barrel length of 910mm. The barrel is signed by smith named Tanaka ....? I can find in my albeit very limited references on gun-makers a Tanaka Nobuyuki 田中信之 but mine is a different person. I can make out Tanaka jugo ..... the rest being beyond me. There are also two kanji on the adjacent flat. I append images and would appreciate any assistance. Ian Bottomley
  8. Jeff, Lines drawn on the tsuka work well for braid, but you cannot squeeze up jabara much. The other complication is that you have to sew all the strands together where they need to form a twist, making sure the sewing thread will be on the underside of course. All in all using jabara for binding a tsuka is a long tedious job but it looks really good when complete. Ian Bottomley
  9. Chris, Sadly it doesn't really get much easier. First you have to get a tsukamaki ito that is the right width so that it reaches the kashira exactly and that the two ends are pointing to the back of the tsuka at that point. You can do a bit to squeezing up to get this right but not too much. The width should also be such that the major nodule of the rayskin is revealed between the upper two twists. I've just spent weeks doing a hilt with 0.7mm jabara, using 10 strands (or really 5 pairs with an S and a Z twist in each strand). I thought I had it right, doing fancy plaiting to hold the menuki and everything, and feeling dead smug when it worked out right with the kashira only to find that the last twist is exactly over the main nodule!!!! Back to square one and try again. Ian Bottomley
  10. IanB

    Hira Zukuri katana

    I once discussed this with Yoshindo Yoshihara who likes making them, but he said they have a tendency to develop hagiri, sometimes long after having been made. Ian Bottomley
  11. Dan, I will photograph the page once my camera battery is charged. Ian
  12. Dan, The diagrams above are from Garbutt's treatise on armour and are really showing how a katana can be worn as a tachi. A real tachi has the two metal hangers, ashi, through which are leather loops (or in one case chains) through which the sageo passes. In Gunyoki, there is an illustration that shows that the sageo was not tied around the waist, but used to tie the tachi to the ordinary obi or sash. Ian Bottomley
  13. I too have just acquired a blade signed by Bizen Osafune Norimitsu dated to 1468. When I have had time to study it properly I will publish images and details. What is immediately evident is that it is a short, heavy blade with prominent bo utsuri and suguba hamon. Ian Bottomley
  14. Many thanks Jean and Charles, - yes of course a bokuto. Makes sense being carried and used by a doctor as a crack on someone's head would require the professional services of the wearer. Ian B.
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