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Chu-Mihara Sword


md02geist
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Picking up a nice Chu-Mihara blade from Aoi. 

 

I realize it has a large fukure in the nakago and some rough hada etc etc and the various wear but it seems to be a great sword (with marginal koshirae, and a nice shirasaya) for the price.

 

Chu-Mihara are supposedly relatively rare to find and this one seems like a nice, if well loved, blade. I'm always fascinated imagining the history of a piece. I think this one has a lot of study potential and with the current Yen:USD rate wasn't a bad deal.

 

I understand it will never be a high dollar juyo type blade so please keep the "oh wow bottom feeder blah blah" comments to yourselves. ;)

 

I love the simplistic, functional elegance of it (one of the reasons I like things like Naminohira) and Chu-Mihara supposedly are VERY close in quality generally to Ko-Mihara.

 

The hamon reminds me of clouds creating a second, opposing horizon across the sky on an open winter morning.

 

Sidenote: I always love Aoi pictures. I feel like they do a great job of showing you different things about the blade.

 

 

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post-1387-0-89753900-1487285287_thumb.jpg

 

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Beautiful sword Ray. I haven't seen the one I've purchased in person but I imagine yours is in better shape. Nice hada on that one, it really pops. 

 

The same sort of purposeful elegance about it that swords like Naminohira etc exhibit; made for use! I find absolute beauty in functional elegance.

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Rob

This sword can be described as many things but "Bottom Feeder" isn't one of them. you should have more confidence on your own opinion. The important thing is that you like it and regard it as good value (So do I BTW)

I think Ko and Chu Mihara can be greatly underrated and over the years some very fine examples have appeared here and on other sites. At its best older Mihara work is very high quality. The run of the mill Mihara still stands up well in comparison to other work of the time. One of the things that always impressed me with the works I have seen has been the shape. I have never seen a Mihara blade with a poor sugata.

Well done on your purchase and enjoy it when it arrives.

Regards

Paul

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Worth noting that the NBTHK will label pieces from this middle period as simply Mihara rather than Chu Mihara.

 

Best regards,

Ray

 

 

I noticed that as well. There seems to be some back and forth as to *exactly* what the years are where something would be considered Ko or Chu, and I found at least one reference that simply notes only "old" and "new" rather than any Chu or mid type Mihara.

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Same is true for Aoe. Ko-Aoe, Chu-Aoe and Sue Aoe, where three divisions are made different references quote different start  and finish dates. Currently the trend seems to be Ko-Aoe, Aoe  and Sue Aoe.

 

 

As I understand it the two were neighboring schools too, and share some similarities.

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Not sure about the geography but certainly Mihara had a lot in common with Aoe, and there are examples of swords being papred to Aoe and later Mihara or vice versa. Mihara at its best compares favourably with Aoe. Its a little like the recent discussion about Rai and Enju.

Quite often when reading about differences between schools I think it is possible to get an exaggerated idea of how great they are. Its a bit like the different Yamato schools. In reality such differences are quite subtle and open to interpretation. This is why attribution is not an exact science.

I think it also highlights the fact that good quality is not exclusive to the more famous schools. There are fine works produced in most schools and periods. It is just that some were more consistent than others producing great works with great regularity..

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Thank you very much. 

 

Interesting choice of decoration; I looked up the symbolism on it and it seems to refer to fertility, child birth, etc. 

 

They seem popular enough that several of you were able to reference it without any issue; any idea why these might be used on a sword? What would they represent to a warrior? Praying for many sons etc fertile lineage or something?

 

Just mulling over it. Maybe someone just really likes pomegranates lol.

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Not sure about the geography but certainly Mihara had a lot in common with Aoe, and there are examples of swords being papred to Aoe and later Mihara or vice versa. Mihara at its best compares favourably with Aoe. Its a little like the recent discussion about Rai and Enju.

Quite often when reading about differences between schools I think it is possible to get an exaggerated idea of how great they are. Its a bit like the different Yamato schools. In reality such differences are quite subtle and open to interpretation. This is why attribution is not an exact science.

I think it also highlights the fact that good quality is not exclusive to the more famous schools. There are fine works produced in most schools and periods. It is just that some were more consistent than others producing great works with great regularity..

 

 

It's funny you mention seeing papered swords swapped from Mihara to Aoe or back and forth; I've actually seen several examples of that just in my shopping. For instance a sayagaki will say Aoe but the NBTHK will call it Mihara etc.

 

Seen at least one knowledgeable vendor openly question the attribution as well stating they felt it was the other etc.

 

 

By the way you are right about the Mihara sugata; I too have never seen a Mihara with a poor sugata (of course my experience in looking and searching I'm sure is not as extensive as yours). I have my eye on one or two other Mihara blades as well, they seem to draw me in each time I see them. 

 

Like I said they have a lot of that functional elegance to them generally without super flashy hamons, etc. I don't mind the flashy stuff but to me true beauty lies in simple elegance. At least at this point in my journey! lol.

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Interesting choice of decoration; I looked up the symbolism on it and it seems to refer to fertility, child birth, etc. 

 

I, too, am not quite sure why they enjoyed such popularity on sword fittings, but they are often seen on midokoromono, like in the attached pic:

post-12-0-06606200-1487477414_thumb.jpg

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Quote:

Like I said they have a lot of that functional elegance to them generally without super flashy hamons, etc. I don't mind the flashy stuff but to me true beauty lies in simple elegance. At least at this point in my journey! lol.

 

 

Interestingly most people start the other way round. Initially attracted by the bolder more flamboyant hamon seen in Ichimonji and some Shinto work and then moving towards the subtlety of suguha. So who knows where you will end up :) 

The reality is you don't need to choose just enjoy the different styles for their own sake and appreciate what the smith was trying to achieve (and in most cases succeeding)

 

 

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I am sure you will be happy with your purchase Rob.

 

As for Mihara classification I think common age groupings are similarish to this.

Ko-Mihara c. 1310 - 1390 (earliest dated Bingo sword is 1324 according to Nihontō Kōza)

Chū-Mihara c. 1390 - 1450

Sue- Mihara c. 1450 onwards

 

I think you could say Ko-Mihara is generally to the end of Nanbokuchō. Chū-Mihara is to the beginning of Sengoku and Sue-Mihara is Sengoku period swords. For Mihara you can see that in many sources they are being listed being very close to Aoe. Sharing many similar characteristics with Aoe etc.

 

Now some newbie dewbie thoughts. I've been reading some good stuff about mumei swords from many sources and my own understanding about mumei attributions is getting more "open". I used to think them as too set in stone. You can sometimes hear seller/owner saying/writing that this Mihara sword looks like Aoe and could very well get attribution to that school. Which could very well be true but the opposite is something you don't hear too often. I believe Aoe classification on mumei sword indicates higher overall level than Mihara classification in general so you don't see dealers & owners wanting to make their swords "lesser". Like Paul said above about the Enju / Rai, you sometimes hear speculation about mumei Enju getting a pass for Rai but you don't often hear sellers/owners of mumei Rai blade saying it could very well be "only" Enju.

 

That being said all that speculation above is way over my actual knowledge level. I haven't seen & handled enough Rai / Enju blades in person to know the subtle differences etc. same goes for Mihara / Aoe. But I keep following the sword market which is fun even though I don't buy anything.

 

 

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Quote:

Like I said they have a lot of that functional elegance to them generally without super flashy hamons, etc. I don't mind the flashy stuff but to me true beauty lies in simple elegance. At least at this point in my journey! lol.

 

 

Interestingly most people start the other way round. Initially attracted by the bolder more flamboyant hamon seen in Ichimonji and some Shinto work and then moving towards the subtlety of suguha. So who knows where you will end up :)

The reality is you don't need to choose just enjoy the different styles for their own sake and appreciate what the smith was trying to achieve (and in most cases succeeding)

 

Certainly nothing wrong with appreciating all different varieties. I have a soft spot for tobiyaki!

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