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Have you seen something like this before?


Jussi Ekholm
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Well I am not too hot thread starter but as I encountered this in old NBTHK magazine I thought I'd share this one.

 

Like the thread title says. Have you seen something like this before? Short and sweet opening post. Of course I do have the article but I've struggled to figure out what should something like this be called. I haven't found a term in any of my glossaries. Maybe it will spark some discussion who knows...

 

post-381-0-11372000-1585424805_thumb.jpg

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I don't know what the article is about, but I very much doubt its a traditional Ainu weapon. Feels like late Edo, or more likely Meiji to Showa gimmick signature, maybe by a part Ainu Japanese swordsmith.

Plenty of hirazukuri waki found in Hokkaido and further north and west, none are signed.

 

Kirill R.

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Well here is the full article for those interested, this was published in NBTHK magazine 110. I am not totally sure if it is ok to post it in public like this but as the purpose is purely educational I think we can get a pass on this one.

 

The sword seems to be made by Horikawa Kunihiro. The sword seems to be signed in very weird way but I believe experts read it as 田中国広 Tanaka Kunihiro. The real name of Horikawa Kunihiro was Tanaka Kintarō (田中金太郎). Now when you look Horikawa Kunihiro signatures you'll see that he signed Kunihiro with 國廣 (old form which is not commonly used in texts anymore) So mei 田中國廣 actually kinda fits in as you look at the picture (eyes are kinda seeing what you want to see). I was completely puzzled as I believe most were when I saw that nakago on the magazine but I had the article there to help guiding the thought process (even though I can only read it partially). And hopefully I got the thought process somewhat correctly.

 

I believe this article series could be called something like interesting items, and this particular article is 珍銘 田中国広についての私感. At first I thought this 珍銘 (chin-mei?) would refer this weird type of signing as I couldn't find it in any of my glossaries but then I found out same kanji in other old NBTHK article and that sword had regular mei.

 

Unfortunately I cannot fully read the text near the nakago in article but I do recognize it reads kawari-mei 変り銘 in there which I might think in this occasion means something like weird/unusual mei. And you can also see Kanzan shiruzu + Kao in the end 寒山誌 (花押).

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This has been an interesting thread and I have been waiting for someone from Japan to tell us what is going one. In fact, Jussi has done a good job and gotten us started. My surficial understanding is that the "mei" on this sword is a rendering of a person's name, - apparently the name is Tanaka Kunihiro. And i can kind of see that in the posted mei. I'll bet there is a name for this style of calligraphy but I sure don' know what it is. I suspect that it is derived from very early Chinese script. I did, indeed, try to find some markings like this in sources on Ainu material culture and swords. And "YES"  there are similarities, but this mei does not "look Ainu" to me. This sword also looks basically different from other Ainu blades.

Peter

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ALONE WITH THE HAIRY AINU. OR, 3,800 MILES ON A PACK SADDLE IN YEZO AND A CRUISE TO THE KURILE ISLANDS. BY A. H. SAVAGE LANDOR.

 

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/37873/37873-h/37873-h.htm

 

For me this sword was made for a Ainu Warrior. And signed with symbols of the Ainu culture. Maybe it was a present?

 

 

During the Edo period (1601–1868) the Ainu, who controlled the northern island which is now named Hokkaidō, became increasingly involved in trade with the Japanese who controlled the southern portion of the island. The Tokugawa bakufu (feudal government) granted the Matsumae clan exclusive rights to trade with the Ainu in the northern part of the island. Later, the Matsumae began to lease out trading rights to Japanese merchants, and contact between Japanese and Ainu became more extensive.

 

Ainu_People_Blog_2.png?v=1538769425

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It has been really interesting. Thanks Peter and Kirill for pointing towards ancient forms of Chinese texts. I think I was able to identify quite close characters for Kunihiro in Liushutong type of Chinese characters (I am still missing first two).

 

Here are those attached.

 

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Always interesting to hear about Ainu culture and items too. :thumbsup:

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Got the book today. I must say not a must have.

Only 2 ceremonial swords inside with a wooden blade (text). They wrote that the Ainu have not much experience in metalworking. Most is easy made.

They use Japanese weapons which they owned by trading. I didn't read the hole book, only the first sites. For me i think that culture is only one step above the stone age.

 

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There are a lots of pictures of commodities inside the book. 

It seems to me they weren't very adept at making items with great care but they try to imitate the Japanese culture. So i cant belive that they are forge and making weapons of a good quality. More for a practical use.

 

The most stuff in the museum is from collections around 1900. So think that museum collection is more near the truth without modern romanticize their culture.

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