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drbvac

Would this polish up ?

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I see no reason why this wouldn't take a polish; whether it makes monetary sense to polish it is another matter. By the time you pay for polish, shira-saya, and the naginata you'll likely have more in this than you could reasonably expect to sell it for. Small to medium size Shinto naginata by smiths who aren't terribly important don't attract much interest (they're often called "women's naginata").

Understanding that, and the vagaries of ebay auctions, if you want to buy this naginata I can see no reason not to.

Grey

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Brian,

 

first of all, it should be noted that this opinion is probably worth what you paid for it.... Second, its always

risky to buy pieces based on analysis of a few marginal photographs - there could be a bunch of issues that the

seller has decided not to "emphasize" in the images (A major US dealer once commented that if he took the best

pictures he could of his wares, he would never sell anything), or simply didn't realize the issues were meaningful.

 

That said, there appears to be nothing really obvious that would indicate that this piece wouldn't polish up

other than the "usual suspects" (ware/fukure that rise to the surface during polish (naginata are bad for this

since they are very difficult to make + short/shinto ones were made mostly for women, so they tended to put less

effort into them,etc.), possibly a hidden hagire (sometimes you see swords supposedly worked over by the clueless

owner with steel wool, having some "minor scratching" etc., to hide fatal flaws like this), etc.), but I agree with

Grey about asking "why" - I personally don't like its shape, but in addition to that its not a particularly interesting example (its kind of under sized, not done by anybody interesting, etc.,).

 

If you were to have the piece polished by somebody competent in Japan,

papered, shirasaya made, etc., you'll be out nearly what you could buy a polished, papered, perfect piece for - throw in

what it will probably go for, and you'd probably not be coming out ahead doing this... If the piece doesn't go for much

you might get closer to not being underwater by having the piece polished some US based "amateur" polisher, and

the shirasaya made here, but...

 

Anyway, good luck on the auction if you are going to bid...

 

"no name" naginata are nearly as hard to sell as wakizashi, so if you are patient you should be able to find a good

in polish example for a reasonable price...

 

Best,

 

rkg

(Richard George)

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Rich,

 

"no name" naginata are nearly as hard to sell as wakizashi, so if you are patient you should be able to find a good

in polish example for a reasonable price...

 

 

Not sure what you mean by your comment? Are waki's that much more difficult to sell than tanto or katana? What is the overall stereotype for these pieces?

 

Thanks.

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Paul,

Yes, wakizashi are the bottom of the food chain all other things being equal. Even a relative value puts wakizashi after katana and tanto. Given the same workmanship, a wakizashi fetches roughly half the price of a katana, with a tanto being roughly 2/3 the value of the katana.

Nothing against wakizashi...they are recommended for this reason to beginners as you can study and learn everything at a relatively lower price. But these are the facts based on supply and demand. Which means there are a lot of bargain wakizashi out there. :)

 

Brian

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Brian,

 

Thanks for the explanation. I understand but not necessarily the logic behind it. Could you elaborate on where these trends came from? Has it always been in this manner?

 

Thanks!

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Just a guess...

Many wakizashi are not ubu, being shortened daito. That would affect the value. The ones that are, well you have to consider that they were not primary weapons. Being sort of a backup to the katana probably doesn't help. Where a katana wasn't allowed to be worn, a tanto could be discreetly hidden. The wakizashi was favored also by non-samurai such as merchants and others, so it doesn't have that same romance that the katana has, and the tanto being a battle knife and also used for ritual suicide. I guess it has just become fashion now to want something as long as possible..or if it has to be shorter, then might as well go for something that was designed to be short and compact like a tanto.

Feeble reasons maybe..it's all I can come up with for now.

 

Brian

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Well said Brian. I was always under the impression that the wakizashi (short sword as they were called) was as a companion for daisho used for indoor fighting. I believe there were even schools that specialized in the short sword. Could be wrong though. Your comments are all valid.

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I think what Brian's getting at is that essentially it comes down to numbers. There are a *lot* of wakis out there. Suriage'd swords contribute to the number greatly, but the numbers of smiths working in the Edo period was huge....so was the growth and success of the merchant class which were permitted to wear shorter swords like Waki and Tanto. Longer was better to the extent of the length they were permitted, and they had the funds to acquire them. Thus the increase in numbers of Wakizashi that were produced. If we look at many of the schools that fourished in Edo Jidai like Mishina, Tadayoshi, etc., and then the really spectacular smiths working like Kotetsu, consider the numbers of works that were Wakizashi. Who could afford these swords in the age of keeping Daimyo poor? The merchants of course.

 

The general perception of the waki being the "indoor" sword is indeed valid, but a little overplayed. It was a backup, or additional weapon to weild by terms of a daisho, at least by Edo period standards. But we can't forget that somewhat oft confused term of "Uchigatana" which were made by the bundle in Sue-koto times. How many Waki sized swords signed "Bishu ju...bla bla" have we all seen? Of course lots of Tantos were made in sue-koto times (all the wierd Bizen shapes come to mind) carried by Bushi that needed close in fighting weapons that even uchigatana were too long for use, so those guys had a daito already anyway. So in this regard it was also the primary weapon if you weren't carrying or permitted to carry a long sword, indoor or not. We can also consider that tanto are not nearly as commonly produced by comparison in the Shinto period. It gets really tough to find Tanto made past Genroku period and they really only started to pick up more popularity into the Bakumatsu period with some really extravegant works being produced with stunning mounts. Again, this goes back to the merchants spending lots of money and dressing up nice.

 

It seems folks view Wakizashi somewhat like "neither Katana nor Tanto" which is technically true of course but I'm specifically referring the mental image when considering a sword for a collection. Somewhere there's a blip they are somehow less a work of art than longer ones or shorter ones. I have a running joke with a friend everytime we encounter a sword that is 24 inches; "Well, it neither Katana nor Waki, but at least it's either Katana or Waki!". :)

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Interesting points. Actually I never thought about that, because I always assumed that Katana are the most difficult to make - maintaining the quality of the Jitetsu and Hamon on a rather long piece of metal - and Tantô are a challenge because it's difficult to not overload them, but make them interesting nonetheless, and all that on a very short piece of metal.

 

In my understanding it's therefore a combination of craftsmanship and artistic ability that make Katana and Tantô more desirable than Wakizashi; the latter are easier to forge than Katana, and don't give the smith the headache of the limited space that Tantô do.

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Hi,

 

Almost all blade made by Umetada Myoju are wakizashi and tanto, lack of skill?

 

Iga no kami Kinmichi was ordered by Tokugawa Ieyasu to produce 1000 katana within 100 days, these blades are made without delay, are they all artistic swords?

 

I think like Ted, it is mainly an economic and pragmatic aspect. The bulk of swordsmiths are not great artists but only weapon makers.

 

It is not more difficult to make a practical katana than a stunning waki. When a swordsmith is talented to make a good tanto he is also to make a katana.

 

This is my opinion.

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Hi,

 

On the wakizashi, I believe its simply supply and demand - In the scheme of things there just aren't that many katana

length pieces because in the post Momoyama period there really weren't that many samurai,

but there were a LOT of commoners who had carried/owned wakizashi for the dictates of style/personal security/etc.,.

In addition, a lot of the samurai in this period were dirt poor, and couldn't really afford to get new pieces made very

often (unlike many of the merchants who could afford to get a new blades regularly to follow the dictates of fashion,

(get a new blade to go with that new koshirae), be "in" by owning a sword by the newest hotshot tosho,etc.,).

 

In addition, I'd posit that the nasty consequences of katana ownership by commoners

in the post Momoyama period probably motivated a lot of commoners who had "family" blades that weren't rounded

up during the sword hunts to get 'em shortened to comply with the law.

 

Also, you'll see a fair number late Muromachi uchigatana that are what would be considered "wakizashi" sized.

I personally believe that this is because of their usage - for very close-in fighting. I've always thought of them

as the weapon of last resort after somebody got inside the effective range of your gun/bow/polearm) - but still,

hordes of these were turned out during the sengoku period (and they didn't get used up because they seldom

got used).

 

On the other hand, the wakizashi is what the samurai type could keep with him at all times, and I've heard

some people assert that often favorite old pieces would get shortened just so they could be carried at all times.

 

Tying this back to naginata, they are kind of in the same price range as the wakizashi because they had limited usage

in the edo period - aside from the "woman's weapon" stigma, it seems like most polearms were relegated to storage/

decorative use/conversion into other weapons during the Edo period when there wasn't much organized fighting going

on. Naginata kind of got supplanted by yari as the polearm of choice. Yari were lots cheaper to make, and were

probably more versatile in a crowded battlefield situation. And actually, you see some naginata made at

the beginning of the shinto period with the back edge sharpened - I personally believe this was kind of the last

development in naginata before being relegated to the dustbin of history, being added so they could be used

for "poking" attacks like yari as well - this vanished as they were relegated to ceremonial/decorative/women's use.

 

I personally think naginata are interesting because 1) they're actually a pretty wicked weapon if you have the space to

use it, 2) they're hard to make (so a good example really shows off the tosho's skill), 3) they have acres of

hada to study, and 4) (IMHO) they look cool. The trouble is in finding a "good" one - a lot of the pre-Edo

ones got converted into wakizashi/katana, machi'd down to a "Shinto size" and/or had their nakagos

shortened considerably, and a lot of the post Momoyama ones just are not very high quality and/or have a

strange shape.

 

Best,

 

rkg

(Richard George)

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I just want to add that during the Muromachi period when uchigatana and wakizashi were being developed, the short swords were primarily for the Ashigaru and Keishohei to use as backup weapons. The tachi and ultimately the katana had rank and status written all over them. This carried over into the Edojidai where this status was codified by the Tokugawa bakufu. I think this feeling still persists even in European arms. Artillery short swords for example are less coveted than cavalry sabres, with rarity, of course, being the exception to the rule. As I believe anyhow. John

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John touches on a good point. People don't just want a "Samurai Sword" they want a Samurai's Sword. Waki don't bring that element of romance in general. Having one by a luminary like Umetada, Kotetsu, Shinkai, etc., is a situation of work trumping romance. Then again, those that can collect and appreciate the work of smiths such as those, have the ability to look past the rudimentary catagories anyway.

 

Going back to the original question... (though enjoyable conversation, sorry for adding to the thread drift...) The shape looks okay, but shall we say, utilitarian in nature? But what's under the haze is the real question. I think I'd want some kind of inspection period concession to allow seeing it in hand. Because like Richard touched on, the lack of really good works in the Shinto period stacks the odds to unknowns being lesser quality and this maker is not running in the herd of big antlers. At the end of the day, I don't think anyone can really confirm or deny any post polish possibility from the images so you see it for what it is; an out of polish, shinto period, mediocre naginata. A candidate for restoration? Maybe. The thing is that these, along with yari and jumonjiyari, sometimes got poked into blazing buildings during fire fighting efforts just by necessity of their length. I've seen quite a few fire damaged ones where the tips had no yakiba, but the machis or mid-section of the blade had some yakiba left and the nakagos were still okay looking.

 

Just thoughts.

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Hi,

Almost all blade made by Umetada Myoju are wakizashi and tanto, lack of skill?

 

Iga no kami Kinmichi was ordered by Tokugawa Ieyasu to produce 1000 katana within 100 days, these blades are made without delay, are they all artistic swords?......

 

It is not more difficult to make a practical katana than a stunning waki. When a swordsmith is talented to make a good tanto he is also to make a katana.

 

Just a few points to make. No-one was suggesting that good wakizashi don't take skill. It was clearly pointed out I think that we are talking about "all things being equal" so in other words given a katana and a wakizashi of equal quality..the katana is harder to make. I don't think a tosho would argue that point. Getting hamon, hada and sori right on a long sword can't be the same as a shorter blade.

 

Once again, all things being equal means we are not talking about all katana, and no-one said that all katana have good quality. 1000 Mediocre katana have nothing to do with whether wakizashi are easier to make. I am sure it was a workshop or group that worked on that project anyways, since one smith couldn't possibly make 10 katana a day for 100 days. However mass production of swords doesn't contribute to why longer swords are worth more.

 

And since we are talking about similar quality in swords, a practical katana has no relevance to a stunning wakizashi. Take the same smith, using the same techniques, I am sure it takes quite a bit longer to finish the katana than the wakizashi and keep the quality level superior. Let's not put words in people's mouths.

 

Brian

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Iga no kami Kinmichi was ordered by Tokugawa Ieyasu to produce 1000 katana within 100 days, these blades are made without delay, are they all artistic swords? .

 

IMHO this statement is used in a context that can be misunderstood by people that have no

knowledge about the whole process. Phisically, it was impossible for Kinmichi to make

such a number of swords in that time without most of the work made by others, meaning

they were no more "Kinmichi swords" as implied in the statement, but simply "swords".

More, smiths and polishers have a limited number of "working hours" in their body,

no matter how strong and healty the artisans are, being these stressing works.

A smith that have achieved a top rank would have saved his back and bones for better

works. It would be even against the interest of the same Ieyasu to ruin his best swordsmith

in order to have a lot of lesser swords that were perfectly affordable (as far as technical skill

goes) by others.

This make the statement quiet useless as an example of good smiths making crap swords.

Maybe other examples can fit better.

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Hi,

 

This make the statement quiet useless as an example of good smiths making crap swords

 

During Sengoku jidai all swordsmiths made more practical blades than artistic ones.

 

This statement is used in a context that can be misunderstood by people that have no

knowledge about the whole process. Phisically, it was impossible for Kinmichi to make

such a number of swords in that time without most of the work made by others, meaning

they were no more "Kinmichi swords" as implied in the statement

 

Have i said he made these blades himself? No and it goes without saying for anyone who has a little interest about nihon-tô.

 

I said that to explain forging katana is not more difficult than forging wakizashi.

 

 

 

Please stop to distort my ramblings.

 

 

To Brian,

 

Brian, the question was why more waki than katana or tanto, the heart of the matter is quantity, and not quality.

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The thing is that these, along with yari and jumonjiyari, sometimes got poked into blazing buildings during fire fighting efforts just by necessity of their length. I've seen quite a few fire damaged ones where the tips had no yakiba, but the machis or mid-section of the blade had some yakiba left and the nakagos were still okay looking.

 

Just thoughts.

 

Ted,

 

Just out of curiosity, is there some source that describes fire crews using these pieces in this

way? When you mentioned this, my first thought was that these pieces could have been

fire damaged instead - Since these pieces were kind of marginalized in the Edo period, I'd posit

that they weren't the first things people grabbed when they saw the house/armory was burning,

and once toasted I'd also posit that because of their relative lack of utility few if any them

got retempered (why bother if you are just going to put it in another fancy koshirae on it and

use it in your processions, or in the case of a Nag it belonged to the wife who never

practiced anyway...). On yari it probably didn't help any that you have to be very careful

when tempering or you blow the tip off.

 

Anyway, just a thought...

 

Best,

 

rkg

(Richard George)

 

P.S. Were these edo period pieces? I almost wonder if this somehow ties into some writer's

descriptions of line troops detempering the kissaki of their swords by sticking them in the

campfire so they didn't break off in combat.

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Richard,

 

Regrettably, I have no written source to validate my statement. I was told this during a discussion of the same subject about three years ago and in looking at the examples I'd seen it appeared quite plausible.

 

I'd agree they likely weren't the first concern for "rescue" when a fire broke out, but the length they offered would be somewhat of a natural choice if you had to demolish higher points of a building to create a fire break and there was neither a fire fighting crew around nor tool designed for the specific task. In the dash to defend other structures the weapons could have come from neighbors rather than the burning armory they were held.

 

Interestingly enough, all those that I have seen with this damage were indeed Edo pieces. In them, one could clearly see the yakiba in the lower part of the blade. Approaching the Kissaki, the yakiba became sleepy then disappeared. If these things had been left behind to fully burn, the yakiba wouldn't be visable at all and I'd expect to see the nakago damaged as well, especially when considering the Ebu (shaft) is wood and would ignite the same as the saya would. Even today most of them that are seen in shops are hung on the walls or from rafters in the ceiling because their length prevents putting them elsewhere. This storage method would expose them to the extremes of the fire and promote more than just regional damage.

 

P.S. Were these edo period pieces? I almost wonder if this somehow ties into some writer's

descriptions of line troops detempering the kissaki of their swords by sticking them in the

campfire so they didn't break off in combat.

 

I'd not read or heard about troops practicing this method of altering their weapons, but I wouldn't discount it either. It does seem odd that all the ones I've seen were Edo pieces though, and in a period without any larger conflicts it's curious why troops would alter what were then very new blades.

 

Interesting stuff anyways....

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Ted,

 

I have no real doubt that your conclusion is correct on them being used as big "fire pokers", its just a little confusing as

it usually takes quite a bit of heat to detemper/cause a phase change a chunk of metal, and... I wonder if there is a

book somewhere on fire fighting techniques in the Edo period (I'm wondering if their technique was to pull the offending

buildings down, create a break by pulling down the surrounding structures, or...?)

 

If they were looking for "pokers", interesting that you wouldn't find the odd koto piece like this (I mean they're

usually longer and you find things like kama yari which would be useful for this) - I wonder if that meant these

were considered more valuable or if they got retempered or they were relatively rare or the koshirae were in

such decrepit shape they couldn't be used or...

 

I can't remember where I came across that tidbit on detempering sword tips (I'm too young to have senior moments, dammit!), but if it was done, I could see it being one of those "pot roast" things that got passed along, particularly if it

was among the ashigaru or something...

 

Best,

 

rkg

(Richard George)

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Hi,

 

was among the ashigaru or something...

 

I own one yari (13cm nagasa) which has lost its hamon and i have been told that ashigaru used their yari point to keep going their campfires. :?:

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