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Everything posted by watsonmil

  1. Dear Adrian, Your concern for the Samurai or more probably Ashigaru climbing a wall using a grappling hook is commendable. Keep in mind that MANY grappling hooks were probably employed during a siege and if you have only one or two survivors inside a fortification they can wreck havoc. Otherwise the grappling hook if used singly would most likely have been employed by cover of darkness. Since when did those of authority not send men to sure death. My Grandfather was a Captain during WWI and was ordered by his superiors to " go over the top " with his men. He advised me that upon hearing the whistle he climbed over the top of the trench and turned his head slightly to call his men onward when a bullet entered his left cheek and removed a goodly portion of his lower right jaw upon exiting. He survived, only to be wounded twice more later in the war and was also gassed. In war you do as you are told period ! Grappling hooks have been used by armies from medieval times right up to the famous use at Pointe du Hoc on D-Day to the Vietnam War. I have an example from the Vietnam War that was rocket fired and used the retrieval by hand pulling the rope to detonate trip wires on booby traps. Your idea of war my friend is romanticised. There is nothing romantic about war. ... Ron Watson
  2. Dear Jean C., Lee, John : Jean and Lee, ... you two gentlemen are correct and I was incorrect when I earlier responded to Brian that my kaginawa was forged from one piece of iron. I believe it was Lee's sharp eye that picked up on a faint seam line. Upon close examination, I now see that this kaginawa was indeed forged from two pieces of iron expertly forged together. For someone who prides himself with noticing the smallest detail, ... I fully enjoy being corrected and in turn not only teaching but LEARNING ! Both Jean C. and Lee picked up on the fact that a short piece of chain for a scaling grapple not only aids in its handling but in its being able to handle the rigours of abrasion from the stone wall while being used to scale as opposed to only rope which would quickly separate. Now, ... John, ... I just got back from the Post Office and the weight of the kaginawa including chain is 505 grams or 17.81 ounce ( barely over 1 pound ). I realized the weight would not be a problem in throwing the grapple, ... but I had the advantage of actually having it in hand. Even so, I was somewhat surprized at it only weighing just over 1 pound. In conclusion, ... I hope we have all come to a consensus that this kaginawa was probably designed for scaling walls ( among other naval possibilities ). I would also like to assure Jean C. that I have the upmost respect for John Stuart and value his input. If I make my points in debate rather strongly, I accept full responsibility for being perhaps too aggressive ... a flaw in my character. It should not be taken as a dislike or a put down in any way towards John or anyone else. I try to research before I write an article in hopes that I get it right. I am very happy that perhaps our debate has spurred an interest in an otherwise diminutive part of Samurai history. ... Ron Watson
  3. Dear John, I have no idea where you came up with your " expert ", but here is the definition of kaginawa that I used : Kaginawa (鈎縄?) is the combination of the words kagi meaning hook and nawa meaning rope. [1] The kaginawa is a type of grappling hook used as tool in feudal Japan by the samurai class, their retainers, foot soldiers and reportedly by ninja. Kaginawa have several configurations, from one to four hooks. The kagi would be attached to a nawa of various lengths, this was then used to scale a rather large wall, to secure a boat, or for hanging up armor and other equipment during the night.[2] Kaginawa were regularly used during various sieges of miscellaneous castles. The nawa was attached to a ring on one end which could be used to hang it from a saddle Tomorrow, John I will take the item in question to the Post Office and have it weighed. I personally feel I would not have much trouble swinging this grapple EVEN with the very light chain attached. In fact having the bit of light chain attached would in my opinion aid in getting momentum to carry the grapple upward and over a wall. It would be more effective for momentum than just hemp rope attached to the hook. Now, ... the second suggestion your acquaintance made that this was some sort of weapon for entangling your sword wielding enemies makes no sense, ... since the grapple is overly large for this type of employment when a much smaller grapple would have been more efficient. Then your knowledgeable acquaintance goes on to say that he does not think it a weapon at all ( neither do I, ... so on that point we agree ), but that it is a Civil Defense tool manufactured between 1930 and 1945 ( most probably 1940 - 1942 ) Could you please give me credit at least for knowing OLD HAND FORGED Iron from something manufactured long after hand forging was in general use, ... and could you at least give me credit for knowing rust patina after all the years experience you know I possess in the field of antique weaponry ? I assure you this item is much older than the Meiji period let alone the 1940's ! Your friend is correct in the sakura mon being brass, .... did they not have proper drills back in the 1940's as this pin hole is drilled/punched at about a 50 degree angle from the perpendicular ??? I have no idea whether your acquaintance/collector is Japanese or not, .... but I will challenge his expertise in this field from what I have just read any day of the week. You are free to challenge my observations as you see fit, .... but please give me the benefit of seeing photographic example of what Civil Defense items carrying this type of emblem he is spouting on about. I have seen none ! Perhaps the sakura mon was a later addition but I doubt it very much. It irks me to be challenged on hearsay. ... Ron Watson
  4. Dear Mick, While we're on a bit of a tangent here ( Japanese Firemen ), ... the banner you refer to was called a matoi. Each Fire Brigade had a different shape of matoi for identification and for what ever reason took displeasure if another fire brigade showed up at a fire they were fighting. The Hikeshi ( firemen ) were both revered and feared as they were often ruffians ready at the drop of a hat to fight others as well as fires. Perhaps because of this camaraderie ... Body Tattoos became synonymous with the Hikeshi. Firemen had a strong group mentality, expressed in manifold ways. Attached to my response is a photo of a fireman's hook ( tobikuchi ) in my collection for your interest. By the way, ... I think the word Koro ( usually a Japanese brazier ) or alternatively among the Asian community a medical Syndrome associated with genital shrinkage ! I think the photograph you posted would be better simply classified as a 20th century bronze ( patina and style ). By the way I do like it ... Ron Watson
  5. Dear Tampa Show Attendees, It would really be appreciated if one or two of those who attended the show could post a few photographs for those of us less fortunate. Thanks, ... Ron Watson
  6. Dear Brian, The Kaginawa in this case was forged from one piece of iron. Even the chain is hand forged. Being well experienced in the appearance of rust both from age and of artificially induced I can vouch for this piece being much older than Meiji. You are right the addition of the mon would not be something one would find on a piece of fire fighting equipment nor a hook for hanging items from a rafter. I found it amusing the trouble whomever added the mon went to get a hole through the iron. He had a heck of a time. ... Ron Watson
  7. Dear John, Before writing that short piece on the kaginawa, ... I did a good deal of research. I was able to find many articles and/or photographs and woodblock prints dealing with fire fighting in old Japan. I was able to find all of the common tools used in such endeavours including tobikuchi ( fireman's axe ) of varying lengths, ryudosui (water pumps ), ladders, even the sasumata-yari ( crescent shaped ), water buckets, no end of specialized clothing, and was somewhat surprised to see an annual Firefighters Memorial Ceremony where ladder acrobatics are demonstrated. Please see here : http://www.pinterest.com/samuraiantique ... ku-and-eq/ and here : https://tokyobling.wordpress.com/tag/ladder-acrobatics/ Please be sure to scroll down the entire article. Now, I am sure a firefighter in old Japan used whatever tool was useful and/or available .... possibly a Kaginawa should it be handy, .... but I can find nowhere where the kaginawa was a standard fire fighting tool which your short comment would lead the reader to believe. I accept constructive criticism, or alternatively a different point of view so long as you've done your homework and back up your argument. I see nothing of this in your reply. ... Ron Watson
  8. I have written very little of late, ... so thought I might toss out to the membership a small but sometimes vital piece of Samurai gear. It is difficult to write much on an item so straight forward and pretty much self explanatory however many of you will know little or anything about the item. The item to be discussed is known to the Japanese as a KAGINAWA .... kaga being the word for hook and inawa being the word for rope. The kaginawa was a three to four armed iron hook generally forged from a single piece of iron with a ring attached to the opposite end of the hooks. This ring facilitated usually a short length of chain and attached to the chain was a rope. Here is a good definition: A grappling hook device with multiple hooks (known as claws or flukes), attached to a rope; it is thrown, dropped, sunk, projected, or fastened directly by hand to where at least one hook may catch and hold. Generally, grappling hooks are used to temporarily secure one end of a rope. They may also be used to dredge for submerged objects. Historically, grappling hooks were used in naval warfare to catch ship rigging so that it could be boarded. In the case of trying to scale a fortification wall, the kaginawa would be swung around and around above the head of the user by the rope and once momentum was gained it would have been released in an upward swing and hopefully would pass over the stone or wooden top of the wall to be scaled, there lodging itself securely by one or more of it's hooks to allow the user and others to climb the fortification wall. The short piece of chain attached to the bottom of the kaginawa proper would help prevent the abrasion of the rope. The example I picture was acquired a few years ago now, and is made of iron. Overall length including the chain is 29 inches ( 73 1/2 cm ) and the main part of the kaginawa is 7 inches ( 18 cm ) to where the hooks curve. Each hook is 4 inches around the curve long ( 10 cm ). The nice thing about this example as compared to say a hook used by a peasant to hang items from the rafters of a house is that this example has a well executed brass cherry blossom on one side and whom ever took the time to put it there had one hell of a time as the hole for the pin went crooked and came out about 50 degrees above the entrance. Just a nice bit of character and certainly not designed to hang items from a rafter. I could find drawings ( woodblock ) of the kaginawa in use, but for the life of me I could find nothing in print relating their use in a particular battle or siege. Photographs attached and as always any errors or omissions are mine alone. ... Ron Watson
  9. Dear Peter, I am glad I did not book a flight to Tampa as I would have to make a connecting flight out of O'Hare. It's strange as I desperately wanted to escape the winter we are experiencing up here in Manitoba even for a few days, .... but the number of times Winnipeg International has been shut down this winter ??? This has been one God awful winter up here and across Canada and extending well down into the USA. It seems worldwide ... Asia, Europe , everyone is having climate related trouble. The Snow and extreme Cold have finally abated somewhat but right from before Christmas to now has been one of, if not the coldest winters on record and we up here are used to long winters. ... Ron Watson
  10. Dear Stephen, When I was in business, ... sometimes shipping out 30 or more parcels a week to destinations all over the world. I found the Canadian postal system to be amongst the WORST in the world. Fortunately I live only 25 miles from the US border, ... so used to ship virtually all my items from the US Post Office. In many years of business, ... the USPO lost only 1 parcel, ... and paid the insurance claim promptly. I also always received my ordered goods at my US Postal Address and again only 1 lost parcel in all the years. The absolute worst postal system has got to be the Italian followed closely by Spain, and the UK and lest I forget CANADA ! What I am trying to say, ... is be thankful for your postal system it is among the very best in the world. You can be sure the USPS will do there very best to locate your shipment . ... Ron Watson PS. Brian I forgot to include the African countries among the worst, ... sorry to be negligent. PPS. With the Internet virtually having taken over the regular postal letter business ( email ), .... the world's PO's are all running terrible deficits. It will be a wonder if we have any POST OFFICES left in a few years which leaves us with the expensive Private Carriers to deliver parcels and heaven forbid letter mail !
  11. Dear Brandon, Shows come and go, ... I realize you are disappointed, ... but there will be other shows. In the meantime concentrate on getting well . ... Ron Watson
  12. Dear Eric, A " gardening tool " ... for the Daimyo with a passion of bonsai or gardening no doubt. ... Ron Watson
  13. Dear Randy, I would say, ... the first definitive example of a Kubikiri tanto ( head cutting dagger ) that I've seen. Vitually all other so called kubikri tanto pictured are most likely pruning knives or some other tool type implement. ... Ron Watson
  14. Dear Jacques, As you probably know, ... but not all of our members will, ... on some of the shodai's works, the kiku-mon petals are cut from left to right, while on others the petals are cut from right to left. Perhaps someone here can give a photographic illustration to better explain. An illustration is better than a 1000 words. Examples of each can be found on pages 49 and 50 of the JSSUS Volume Seven, Art and the Sword 1997. ... Ron Watson
  15. Dear Edward, Jacques ( a man of too few words ) has posted a couple of images of genuine signatures for you to compare with your wakizashi signature. The differences will be quite obvious. Also compare your wakizashi signature to the ones posted by Matt. ... Ron Watson
  16. Dear Edward, The signature does not match ( or come close to ) the First or Second Generation Hisamichi, and since the Third generation and onwards used an eda-giku ( chrysanthemum and branch ) rather than a kiku-mon ( just the flower ), and the signature still does not match the third generation, ... one can safely assume this is a gimei of the first generation. The second generation made many ghost works signing as his father and is known to have used both the kiku-mon and the eda-giku but the signature on your blade is way off in my reference books. As well as the above, ... the kiku-mon appears to be poorly carved which on correct blades is never the case. ... Ron Watson
  17. Dear Steve, You said : " No-one could ever tell. " I beg to differ with you the most important person who would know, .... would be YOU. ... Ron Watson
  18. Dear Jean C. " To sum this up I suspect the Chinese fakers do not at all feel bad about their business. They might even not feel guilty when they are caught selling pirated products. To an extent this could be a question of Asian mentality. " After having been the proprietor of one of the largest Antique and Militaria store sites on the Internet, ... selling high end items all over the world and dealing with many major museums, virtually all movie studios, governments including the US government ( Library of the Congress ) and White House, the government of South Korea ( South Korean Secret Service ) to name a couple that come to mind, as well as the wealthiest of private collectors to the average client with a limited budget, I think I can speak with a little authority on the mentality of the Asian when it comes to business. All Asians treat business as war. Unless they can beat you down to a surrender of any profit, they feel they have not succeeded. The Art object is not the begin all end all with them, ... it is the game of negotiating at any cost the best deal. I once sold a WWII Enigma Machine to the South Korean Secret Service for display in their offices in Seoul. The negotiations went on for months, until finally they crossed a line and I told them to F off and never call me again. This suddenly threw them into a panic, ... and speaking to my wife by phone ( I would not take their call ) they lost everything they had negotiated with me and I now dictated the terms of the deal and I was not easy. In yet another example, ... I was in Chicago attending a sword show, and a group of three Japanese dealers ( one is the spotter, one is the negotiator, the last comes in for the kill ) wanted a sword I had. I was wined, dined and offered the services of two lovely and very young Japanese girls. I accepted the wine, the food, but dared not accept the girls as then they would have used that indiscretion as a bargaining chip without doubt ( even morality was a tool in their arsenal ). Yet, ... I must say virtually every European government or museum I have dealt with have been good to their word and although negotiating on high priced items is to be expected, I always felt good in the end. The one exception has been my own Canadian government who have used everything from threatening invoking the Heritage Act to out right lying in my dealings with them. They lost big time by the way. ... Ron Watson
  19. Dear All, The Mishina School, .... any and all of the Five Smiths of Kyoto [ Kyoto Gokaji ] . ... Ron Watson
  20. Dear Guido et al, Doing a bit of research, I did come up with this photo of a couple of Chinese made jars for the Portuguese Colonial ( China ) market circ. 1860-1870 showing that the Jesuit Symbol did not always depict alternating straight and curvy spokes. Just a bit more information, but certainly in line with the rays on the Tsuba depicted. http://www.michaelbackmanltd.com/906.html These photos were posted on the Google Image page so I think it will be alright to post the link. ... Ron Watson
  21. Dear Guido, I too notice that none of the alternating 32 rays are wavy, ... and wondered about this as being unusual if they were DIRECTLY copying the Jesuit Symbol. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that by 1597 Hideyoshi was already persecuting the Christian faith a mere 48 years after its introduction to Japan and that although the Tsuba makers liked the design rather than the religion, modified the rays in such a way as not to be to conspicuous to the authorities and/or to fill orders for Christian Samurai who preferred ( wisely to keep a low profile ). The latter would certainly be a reason for leaving the INS and the nails off the design. We definitely do know that in spite of the edicts against Christianity, and the outright ban from 1626 to 1854 that there were many secretly practicing Christians in Japan and a goodly number of these were Samurai. I have in my collection a Naginata with an unidentified stylized cross mon on the shaft and although I do not feel it represents a Christian Cross, I could easily see the authorities in Edo Japan questioning the symbol if they wanted to be sticky. Perhaps they were not as stringent as we all surmise and unless a blatant Christian Symbol ... passing it by. This of course is all supposition and I have no solid ground to stand on. Although I am far from definite in stating the 32 pointed rayed tsuba was in indeed owned by a Christian, I would strongly argue that the design is inspired by the Jesuit symbol. To me at least it is just too much of a coincidence. I suppose we will perhaps never know, ... but I feel it has been a good exercise in thought and research at any rate. ... Ron Watson
  22. Dear Curran, Yes, ... the swastika has been around for around 3000 years, ... but with an educated eye one can automatically tell those are not the Nazi swastikas, as the Nazi swastika is on a slant of 45 degrees. Speaking of getting back on track, ... the design we were discussing was the Jesuit symbol which we know was first used on August 15, 1534 with the founding of the Jesuits ... not 3000 years ago. I believe the first Jesuits set foot in Japan in 1549 ... a mere 15 years after being founded. Previous to the Jesuits I can find no 32 pointed symbol being used by any culture let alone the Japanese ( although the possibility exists, I cannot find a single example ). It would therefore to me at least seem implausible that tsubasa would suddenly come up with the design without Jesuit inspiration. ... Ron Watson
  23. Dear Keith, I too am highly sceptical about many of the tsuba being given Christian attribution. On that point Guido, you, and I agree, ... but in this particular case I think given the albeit circumstantial evidence, .... one can lean towards a Jesuit inspired design. Not saying either the tsuba maker nor the samurai who bought/ordered it were Christian, ... but simply that the tsuba maker thought it an interesting design and so copied it. I doubt that we can come up with a better reason for the inspiration at least. ... Ron Watson
  24. Dear Chris, Proto : Indicating the first or earliest or original, ... I doubt the Buddhists were either Pro - Nazi or Proto Nazi ..... ah ... never mind ... ... Ron Watson
  25. Dear Guido, I don't think so Guido, ... the Nazi Swastika and the Buddhist Symbol differ in that The Nazi swastika symbol (卐) is a cross with four arms of equal length with the ends of each arm bent at right angle in right, whereas the Buddhist symbol ( not a swastika ) is a cross with four arms of equal length with the ends of each arm bent at left angle in left and signifying Auspiciousness and Good Fortune as well as Buddha's Heart. It has been in use by Buddhists for approximately 2000 years whereas the Swastika although similar but different to the Buddhist Symbol was adopted I believe by the Nazi's in the 1920's. as a symbol of the Aryan Race ( please don't quote me on the date ). Also as part of the argument for the tsuba design being derived from the Jesuits, ... I do not to my knowledge know of a similar tsuba design prior to the arrival of the Jesuits. Although prior to the 1500's might be a bit early for this elaborate a Sukashi style anyway. ... Ron Watson PS. Chris, ... Having had members of my family lose their lives to the Nazi ... I see no humour ... I strongly doubt anyone except a few Skin Heads are or were pro-Nazi.
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