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Austus

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Posts posted by Austus


  1. You guys are killin' me.   

     

    Don't get me wrong... I'm not putting down Nihonto at all. This thread has actually helped me appreciate Nihonto even more; while pondering the logic behind the word. While the steel used seems to be the biggest variable, the forging techniques are what make them special. [but Best, that's a different discussion]  Taking days or weeks to make a sword definitely separates them from mass or fast produced blades. When you consider the spiritual and religious path of that process, they do rise above other weapons in their creation. But if you start looking at the metaphysical and Quantum physics involved in the traditional method; there is nothing else that can compare.

    However, this discussion has also reminded me about all the reasons why I like Gunto.  A lot.


  2. "...large proportion of tamahagane... at least 75 per cent..."   I've not heard that before. We got some wiggle room, here?

     

    I have felt the pain of Nihonto rejection!  When I look at my elegant Kanezane blade, which he proudly signed as being made with Yasuki steel; I can't believe anyone would want to exclude this prizewinning smith's work as a non-Nihonto. But I have come to terms with that, even though it doesn't feel right. This question keeps coming up because there are too many exceptions and inconsistences in the rules as applied through history. 

     

    If I could tell the Japanese authorities anything, it would probably be:  "The war is long over. We're Friends, now. Let's take all those non-Nihonto swords and call them Nippon-To, and give them back their rightful place in history; and let your people register and own them proudly."   If the Japanese could own Gunto; I bet the prices would go crazy.

    • Like 2

  3. Thanks, Michael.  Does that mean the same as what David said; that there's a cutoff at war's end; but they're still Gendaito?   My problem with that is, the post-war swords were traditional in every way of the definition; but were fully Art Swords and not primarily weapons. Matter of fact, I'm surprised they weren't legally required to be dulled, considering the political environment.  So they may be Nihonto; but they are very different from pre-1950 swords; and they deserve a different Era name than Gendaito. 


  4. On one hand you have Nihonto collectors, and on the other hand you have the Japanese authorities.  They both agree to the meaning of the term "Nihonto." 

    While this thread has made clear the historical and manufacturing applications of the word; it has also shined the light on why the discussion keeps coming up. When a word translates as one thing; but later becomes applied to only a portion of that thing; it gets confusing. Then when you add "elitist" and monetary considerations; it gets contentious.

     

    Setting aside the word wars, you're left with a problem for the future: The Japanese authorities have completely rejected their association with WW2 weapons, and maybe any weapons at all. Until you see them let smiths make more than 2 swords a month; you can assume that nothing has changed in that department. So don't hold your breath that they are worried about counterfeits of a blade that they are trying to ignore. And get rid of that gunto koshirae.

     

    Another thing that this thread has done is to spotlight the political implications of the swords produced during the post Meiji times.  For one thing, they were produced by a Nation, for fighting other nations. And now they're illegal in that Nation. On either side of that time period, everything else is "traditional."  We just need to be okay with that. The guntos belong to us, now; they don't want them. They consider "Gunto" to be a dirty word. We shouldn't. We faced them. We can love them as much as we want. Their value will continue to rise, papers or not.

     

    And one more thing. I'm not too sure that the Traditionalists will be all that happy to have to include today's traditionally made swords as Nihonto.  Their purpose and function is so removed from the original that we really do need a different name for them than Gendaito.  I vote Shin-Gendaito; and the postwar period needs a new name, too. 

    • Like 2

  5. I am not qualified to discuss hada, or hataraki, or many of the finer points of traditional swords. I'm here partly to learn about that stuff; which is hard to do from books or pictures only. 

    I'm a weapons enthusiast.  Luckily, I don't know enough about Japanese swords to only like the ones that I can't afford, and rarely see. I don't expect Showa swords to look like Koto masterpieces; and I'm okay with that. I feel fortunate to be able to see the beauty and lethality of 20th century swords without noticing what could be missing in someone else's eyes. Ignorance really can be bliss! But I don't look down on the things that other people like; or feel superior by not liking them. Life's too short.

    • Like 2

  6. Hey, Jean, can we try this, first?  Please go to post #47 in "The Mysterious W Stamp", 8/15/19, in this Militaria forum for some photos.

    I have only taken the tsuka off once, had to pry it off.  There seems to be gold leaf traces all over the nakago.  Could be something else; but this tang is a real mystery.  I'll save you the details; or will try and help in any way I can. 

    Whenever I take out this sword, I don't wonder if it's traditional or not.  I'm just so glad it's mine.

    • Like 1

  7. I may have one of these swords. The mei was filed almost completely off; and there is what Brian called "the top of a showa stamp" which could be erased easily. The blade doesn't have that hada you mention; but has a real hamon and it's my prettiest blade by far. Might not actually be traditional; but I love this stunning sword. Have pics if needed.

    • Like 2

  8. From "Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths," by Kapp and Yoshihara, page 63:

     

    "Fujiwara Kanefusa...who was working in Seki during this period, says that many of the better craftsmen could produce work of such a high standard that it was almost impossible for swordsmiths or experienced collectors to determine if the blade was traditionally made or was a Showa-to. Because of this, many of the better Showa-to aquired false signatures and were passed off as older traditional blades. This angered the army authorities and they jailed some of the people responsible. Kanefusa also speculates that there were makers who put very small, faint stamps on their swords that could be easily removed, allowing these swords to pass as traditional blades."

     

    If a sword was good enough to pose as a traditional blade; I bet it was a pretty good sword.  But still not a Nihonto, right?

    • Like 3

  9. There was a previous thread where Ed defined Shinsakuto as a post-Gendaito category, where the Gendai smith had died. 

    I thought it was what we call today's traditionally forged Japanese swords. (Shin Gendaito, in one book?)  So what do we call them, and are they Nihonto?  Is it just the time period or purely the forging techniques? As for them, I think they are the truest Art Swords. More art than weapon. 

     

    Can we get more on the designation of "Nihonto" by the Japanese?  That doesn't sound like something that can be argued with, unless it was part of the attempt to save swords from destruction after the war. In that context, they may not have expected swords to be made anymore; or just wanted to put distance between war weapons and heirlooms. 

     

    I'm fascinated with how and why we draw these lines.  Bet I'm not the only one that wants to see it be logical and fair.


  10. But don't you see how confusing that is?

    Gunto = Military sword

    Showa = time period

    Gendaito = Traditional sword made during Showa period

    Showato… all Gendaito??     That's not the way I understood it.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  And please define Shinsakuto for me. 

     

    If the original purpose in those terms was to communicate the physical attributes of those swords, they failed.  Except for the category Gendaito. They're well defined.

     

    One thing for sure, they're all Japanese.   Nihonto?

    • Like 1

  11. Perhaps the reason that this discussion keeps coming up is that the previous answers didn't work. 

    The word Nihonto means "Japanese sword." But it seems that one type of Japanese sword is trying to exclude all others, and commandeer a term that is in itself, completely inclusive. 

    One answer would be to use categories. Subsets of the total, which could be much more honest; and is something we are already doing. We have Koto, Shinto, Gendaito, etc., already. We know what they mean. We need to further enlarge the list of categories, and define them, using whatever qualities that can be agreed upon. 

    Think of a pie chart. Nihonto is the pie. The different categories are the slices. They could be cut to reflect known percentages, but then be different colors to reflect certain attributes. A Showa slice could then contain Gendaito and semi-traditional, and maybe even the 9 other types of manufacture. Maybe they could be arranged in a historical position, oldest to newest.  Etc.

    Another possible answer would be to get the Traditional guys to come up with a better name for their category. All we need is some agreement . Good Luck!

     

    With that in mind; I answer the OP with an enthusiastic Yes. 

    • Like 4

  12. Not only does the sword have to be made of tamahagane to be considered Traditional; that tamahahagane had to be produced in a tatara. There's another thing that can't be known after forging, unless there's a stamp or other confession. The tatara is an ancient and inefficient method of steel production that ultimately results in impurities that manifest themselves in patterns that we consider beautiful. If those patterns can be produced with other steels, aren't they still artful? Do those activities make for a better sword? Seems to me, that's the more important question in the mind of the man carrying the sword into battle. 


  13. Don't do anything yet!  Let some of these folks lead you forward.

     

    My 2cents?  That could be cosmoline, and it could be period. That could explain the lack of rust, unless they have been heavily cleaned in the past before all-over greasing. One of your leather seppas is gone, and the other is ruined from that process. Even if I'm wrong, it looks like you scored.


  14. Hey, Bruce -- that's a good spot already. I like to stand mine up, too.   Maybe use a small rack and rotate them for show or study.

     

    Neil -- Good looking collection, there.  Always enjoy seeing your fine specimens. Was surprised to see them with edges down.

     

    Adam -- Better get another rack. You're just getting started.   Welcome to the madness. There is no cure.


  15. Hey, Antti, I didn't mean to step on your thread.   This subject has been discussed in previous threads… maybe try the search function. There's a lot of great stuff there. 

    One of the easiest tips was to use a black background. 

    One of the best things about digital is that you can try and try again.  Trial and error is an effective learning process. I'm getting real good at errors.

     

    Welcome and Good Luck!

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