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Markings Inside Habaki

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I would like opinions (or suggestions for sources to study) in regards to what appears to be markings or kanji inside this habaki. The markings seem too distinct to be random hammer marks in my novice opinion. I read some previous posts that spoke about hammer marks and an indistinguishable maker’s mark or an unknown internal shop marking noted inside of other habaki. What are your thoughts?

 

Thank You,

Mark

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Mark,

as you wrote, probably some maker's mark. I think I can see something that resembles a YAMA (mountain) KANJI.

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Hello:

 The last one seems to say "mountain sword", and of course the habaki started as a flat sheet that could be easily written on. I suppose the question is why were they not written on more often and the only reason I can imagine is that the chisel "pillow" might threaten the togi. Yours in unique in my experience.

 Arnold F.

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 What type of blade did this come off?

  I have two thoughts on this, one is that mass produced blades like shin-gunto might have something like this as part of the production tracking system.

  The other is that the original metal sheet might have a production mark, and it just happened to carry on over to the finished item.

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Thank you for your responses.

 

Dave—

 

To answer your question this blade is from the WW2 era, dated “A lucky/auspicious day in August 1944.” The mei reads “Ryu Jin Toto Ju Kuniteru Saku”. So far my research points to an unrecorded apprentice to Miyaguchi Toshihiro/Yasuhiro or an unrecorded art name for Miyaguchi Toshihiro/Yasuhiro.

 

Hello Arnold—

 

Thank you for your thoughts and translation. This habaki is from the sword that we have spoken about briefly. The little bit of research you are reviewing for me is for this sword in particular, so I’m glad you saw this post. I wonder if there is any connection between the sword being named “Ryu Jin” (Dragon King) and the habaki name of “Mountain Sword”? This seems to be a lot of work for a late wartime blade.

 

 

My original post asking for verification of mei translation is here: http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/topic/25581-mei-translation-verification-please/

 

Unfortunately my photos are pretty poor and they do not do justice to the blade. I’ve included a few pics that show some detail.

 

Thank you all again for all of the input.

 

Mark

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Mark,

while the HAMON seems to be created by oil-quenching, the whole blade is obviously very carefully made. The MEI is really beautiful. I think it is something special and can very well be enjoyed.

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Mark,

 

while the HAMON seems to be created by oil-quenching, the whole blade is obviously very carefully made. The MEI is really beautiful. I think it is something special and can very well be enjoyed.

Hi Jean:

 

Thank you for your input and thoughts. You obviously have much more experience than me and I’m glad you mentioned that you think this sword may have been oil quenched or at least appears so. Personally I’m not 100% sold that it is indeed an oil quenched blade. I have to admit that there are always exceptions but from the research I have done into Miyaguchi Toshihiro and his work at Baron Okura’s Forge (or post-Yasukuni) is that he and his students water quenched all of their blades—even the blades made with western steel added in were water quenched. This blade may have western steel (puddled steel or railroad track steel) in its composition but should have been water quenched. This fact is mentioned in one of the references but I can’t remember if it was Markus or Fujishiro.

 

When I asked Chris Bowen about this blade he thought that it may have western steel in its construction and water quenched but could not say for certain. He also agreed that the mei was signed by Miyaguchi Toshihiro/Yasuhiro himself and that Kuniteru was either an unrecorded apprentice or that it was an unrecorded art name of Miyaguchi Toshihiro for a short period before the war ended.

 

Clearly I cannot say for certain one way or the other but I am glad to have input from those with much more experience than myself such as you Jean, thank you.

 

Mark

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Dear Mark,

 

The mark inside the habaki appears to be "dragon" (龍) in reverse (mirror image).  Can you make a rubbing with a small, thin piece of paper and small pencil?

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Dear Mark,

 

The mark inside the habaki appears to be "dragon" (龍) in reverse (mirror image).  Can you make a rubbing with a small, thin piece of paper and small pencil?

Hi George,

 

Thank you for your response. I will try and do a rubbing once I get back home from work. I have wondered if it was a reverse image as well. At first I discounted the mark as being a reverse image from fitting the habaki and the blade transposing the kanji onto the inside of the habaki. But then I could not account for why there was an additional symbol/kanji on the opposite interior side of the habaki. My next thought was that it could be a repurposed habaki that had already been engraved on the outside but must have had an issue and was scrapped and then reused but turned inside out to save material. But then the marks seem to not have the chiseling “pillow” that Arnold mentioned above which would indicate a different form of adding the markings other than a chisel or that extra time and care was taken to add the kanji to the interior parts and then file or remove the chiseling “pillow” or marks as to not scratch the blade when putting the habaki on or removing it. If it is indeed a reverse image then I would imagine the other image is a reverse image of the kanji for “Sho” as in Showa.

 

So all that to say I have no idea.

 

Thanks again for your thoughts George and I will do my best to get a decent rubbing.

 

Regards,

Mark

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I was able to do as George suggested and made some (very poor) rubbings of the interior sides of the habaki. I think George is right and these are reverse images of the kanji for “dragon” and “sho”. I took pictures of the rubbings and then flipped the paper over to compare on the other pictures.

 

Thank you to everyone who offered input I really appreciate the help and enjoy the discussion.

 

George—great suggestion and thank you for offering it up. It is logical and also seems to be the simplest explanation—Occam’s razor comes to mind.

 

Thanks again

Mark

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