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IanB last won the day on May 30 2020

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About IanB

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    Sai Jo Saku

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  1. I think we can get very fixated about sword definitions and lengths. As mentioned in Marcus's article, the Tokugawa were obviously uptight about commoners carrying swords that were just below 2 shaku, probably in overlong saya, and decreed the maximum lengths. Having said that, the samurai class were obviously not so rigid in their attitude, wearing swords commensurate to their stature. I have a daisho in which the daito is only 22.4" (57cm) long and the shoto 18.1" (46cm) which I worried about for a while before being told it was for a small person. Ian Bottomley
  2. IanB

    Urushi Maintenance?

    By far the greatest danger to lacquer is light, and in particular sunlight. Whilst I am no expert on the chemistry of urushi, I understand the lacquer particles are surrounded by adsorbed water that is lost by light absorption (if I remember by chemistry from the very distant past the term 'micelles' comes to mind). The resulting damage leaves to the loss of the glossy surface leaving it dull and absorbent. This process is irreversible and the only 'cure' is either to apply a material to the damaged surface that seals it, or to remove the damaged layer. The car re-finishing materials mentioned by Piers either cut away the damaged top coats to reveal fresh lacquer underneath or are wax-like substances that cover the damaged layer and put a polished coating over it. There is a material sold called 'Armour' used to polish violins and similar that seems to be a wax containing a mild abrasive that seems to do both processes at once. Ian Bottomley
  3. [Edited]

    Sorry, already solved.

  4. Copies of this and other famous Kamakura period o-yoroi were made my a Mr. Miura (apparently no relation to the present armour restorer of that name) for the coronation of Emperor Hirohito. One of these copies is now in the Royal Armouries collection in Leeds, UK. The copies are all made exactly, and I mean exactly, as the originals and have had special braid, stencilled leathers and kanamono made. Sadly the Royal Armouries one had come via Argentina where it lost one sode, a few kanamono and as a finishing touch someone had done some re-colouring of the lacing which had faded badly on one side. Even more sadly, the 'restorer' had decided the ideal way to restore the colour was to use bright red oil paint to recolour the silk lacing - nice. Ian Bottomley
  5. As I understand it, following the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate, some non-samurai took to carrying swords that were strictly legal, but only marginally under 2 shaku. Sometimes they were worn in longer saya to give the impression the wearer was of samurai class. As a result the Shogunate issued an edict limiting non-samurai from carrying swords longer than 18 inches (45.7cm). (memory may be playing tricks but I think this edict was around 1630). In 1680, or thereabouts, this limit was reduced even further to 15 inches (38 cm). This probably explains a Tadoyoshi III blade I once owned that had been shortened by about 2cm - presumably to bring it into line with the new regulation. In view of these edicts, the length of the above blade does seems rather short. - however, I have a daisho in which the daito has a nagasa of only 56cm, presumably made for someone of small stature. I think we can get rather hung up on lengths and forget that swords were personal and often made to suit the wearer's needs. Ian Bottomley
  6. I have this tsuba (picture taken of the rear) which shows considerable wear to the arcs at the ends of the slots, especially the one at 11.00 o'clock- probably because of rubbing against the clothing. Ian Bottomley
  7. IanB

    Kogai crests

    I have an original copy of a monsho - a publication that lists all the daimyo, their kamon, family tree, shapes of spear scabbards, jinbaori and so forth. They were used, among other reasons, during the daimyo gyoretsu to identify processions on the roads and determine who had to make way for the other. Whilst many daimyo are shown with three kamon, some had five. Clearly some kamon were used by the daimyo and his family, others being worn by his retainers and servants. Ian B
  8. All, Several topics have become entangled here, so please bear with me. Firstly - the whole leather situation. Japan was in fact a large user of leather despite the fact that the raw skins and the leather workers were regarded as unclean. Several native sources were used including deer and horses but the supply was totally inadequate and hides needed to be imported. Quantities of buffalo skins came in from China and SE Asia that was converted into rawhide or nerigawa. Sakakibara Kozan states that that produced in Nagato and Suwo were best. In 1604 and 1635 it is recorded that some 250,000 deer skins were imported from Siam and Cambodia (Yoneo Ishii, www.asjapan.org/web.php/lectures/2002/04). Large quantities of rawhide, including that made from buffalo skin, when suitably lacquered, was used in the making of armour. as did deer skins. It seems that when processed into something it was no longer defiling. A softer white leather was a speciality of Himeiji. Deer skins were first washed in the local river and then dried.The stiff rawhide was then treated by trampling with rape seed oil for hours to give the soft white leather. This was then usually treated in three ways: firstly by smoking to give fusube gawa. This involved fastening the skin on a drum above a small furnace in which was burnt either straw or pine needles. The former gave yellow colours, the latter browns. The leather could be patterned by folding, binding with cords or pasting paper cut-outs on the surface. Fusube gawa was mainly used in situations where rubbing could occur such as the linings of armour. The second method was by stencilling to give e-gawa, often in patterns involving shi shi lions amid peony foliage in blue with flowers in red. The third method was to dye the leather.A common pattern, shobu gawa, involved rows of stylized iris leaves and flowers in white on an indigo dyed ground. This was done by carving the patterns in relief in wooden battens and binding them onto the leather wrapped around a drum. When dyed in indigo, the wood patterns prevented the dye reaching the leather under them giving a white pattern on the blue ground. See: 'Leather in Warfare' edited by Quita Mould, Conference proceedings, Royal Armouries ISBN 9780948092763 I forgot the cuir bouilli bit. In reality it was just moulded rawhide. To make a helmet or mask, the hide was stretched over a wooden block carved to the required shape and dried. Where the leather needed to be concave, small nails were hammered in. When fully dry and translucent it then underwent a long lacquering process to prevent it absorbing moisture. For helmets, several shapes were made and nested together, either glued or sewn with rawhide thongs. I have one such helmet which has 4 layers of hide making up the thickness. Provided the lacquer kept the moisture out it made excellent armour, but if cracked, the hide swelled and soften and the piece was ruined. Ian Bottomleyi
  9. Much of this nonsense arose from the knee-jerk reaction of our pathetic government in banning the shipping of knives by post after a spate of murders and stabbings by members of drug gangs. A rather glaring omission in this legislation was any reference to antiques. However, this rather unthinking legislation is only a supplement to existing legislation concerning prohibited weapons which does in fact exempt antiques. As a result, the new legislation does not supersede this situation. It is therefore perfectly legal to ship antique swords and knives. Sadly it is the numpties at Post Offices and shipping companies who have had the wind put up them. As for destruction, they would be risking massive compensation claims if they tried it. Ian Bottomley
  10. IanB

    Eboshi Kabuto

    Uwe, If my memory is correct, the signed momonari kabuto was by Myochin Munechika. Ian B.
  11. IanB

    Eboshi Kabuto

    It looks to be a nice enough example of its type, however it looks as if the fukigayeshi have been broken off and the lacquer of the shikoro is in a bad state and will continue to drop off unless you can stabilise it. Piers, I very much doubt it will be signed. I have only ever seen one helmet that was similar (in fact a momonari kabuto) with a signature. Ian Bottomley
  12. Geraint, I too remember another where the flute was a dark bronze and the dragon in silver but who had it I cannot remember. It was a very long while ago that is for sure. These items are undoubtedly fantastic metalwork, but designed as a novelty to appeal to the Western market. Ian Bottomley
  13. Uwe, I have seen this extra plate idea once before. It was used when the owner of the armour became too fat for it to fit properly. I have also seen a dou where the original hinge had been replaced by a very wide one for the same reason. It happens to most of us as we get older. John, No worries, I have made enough mistake - in fact I knew that a sugake laced ni mai dou had a particular name but I couldn't for the life of me think what it was. In the end I looked it up in H. Russell-Robinson's book on Oriental Armour - nuinobe dou - of course it is. I'm getting senile. Ian Bottomley
  14. Adam, Well done in being seduced to the Dark Side by acquiring some armour. What you have bought is a nuinobe dou, that is a form of two section dou laced in the sugake style - that is the plates are theoretically held together with paired lacings [a mogami dou is also laced in sugake but is in five sections with four small individual hinges on each horizontal row of plates]. I say theoretically because in reality the plates are really held together with leather thongs hidden under the lacing. The parts under the arms that are flopping loose would be held by similar ties. You have some lacquer problems, and it would not be a bad plan to consolidate any loose flakes of lacquer that are still in position with an adhesive. As an ex museum curator I am supposed to say the adhesive should be reversible, but since you wont want to reverse it, superglue will be fine - just work a drop under the edge of each loose flake and press it back into place until it hardens - any excess that gets in the wrong place can be removed with acetone. Ian Bottomley
  15. Bruce, I saw that kamon on a helmet in Turino, Italy, that had been given to the Duke of Savoy by the Japanese mission. It isn't listed in Iemon no Jiten by Seishi, so the family mayhave died out. Ian Bottomley
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