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What is the meaning of DEN

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Hello to all,

 

this was discussed in the Nihonto forum.

 

Maybe here too, i can´t remember.

 

If a paper stated "Den Jingo" then we have a specific school.

 

Wy not only "Jingo"?

 

If we talk about a group.

 

"Den kanayama" why not "Kanayama"

 

I´m confused :-?

 

Michael

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I wonder if den in swords has a different meaning to den in tosogu?
I won't repeat the whole discussion around the meaning of den in swordsmith kantei. That can best be viewed on Darcy's site here: https://blog.yuhindo.com/den/
But I wonder if den just means school in tosogu? We are not talking about an individual smith here, more a tradition or school. So could Kanayama den, just mean Kanayama school? Which is what Jingo and Kanayama and so many of the other schools are....a line or school.
Interested in other opinions on this.

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My understanding, though it could be wrong, is that if/when we see a "den Kanayama" designation, for example, what is being conveyed is that the piece in question is likely Kanayama, but that it also exhibits elements that point away from Kanayama; in other words, it's probably Kanayama, but is atypical in some way(s) or another.  The atypical detail(s) may not be a "bad" thing, but simply represents a departure from the usual in some manner.  My understanding here could be mistaken, though, as I say. 

 

Cheers,

 

Steve

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At least one or even both of the NTHK groups use the word Den with any unsigned blade. They might point to a specific smith but since the piece is not signed they add Den. The same could be done for unsigned tsuba. I also agree with what Steve wrote in the post just above mine.

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My understanding, though it could be wrong, is that if/when we see a "den Kanayama" designation, for example, what is being conveyed is that the piece in question is likely Kanayama, but that it also exhibits elements that point away from Kanayama; in other words, it's probably Kanayama, but is atypical in some way(s) or another.  The atypical detail(s) may not be a "bad" thing, but simply represents a departure from the usual in some manner.  My understanding here could be mistaken, though, as I say. 

 

Cheers,

 

Steve

Agreed.

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Maybe I'm wrong, but do to one of the translations of den as "transmission" I think could be something like "school of.." or "atelier work", meaning that is a style of this school, but because it's imposible to determine the artist, you can mention only the style. Could be something like when we saw a Gôto kôgai that it's sure from Gôto style, but if it's not signed could be very difficult determine the artist that made it, so we say Gôto den.

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Just my perception, but I'm less positive about the "den" prefix. To me the true meaning is something like: "we do not really know, but the item has something resembling...". As far as I see it is a big manifestation of intellectual honesty (I do prefer an admission of uncertainty rather than a questionable affirmative attribution). Here below some examples:

post-2065-0-37479000-1592688014_thumb.jpg
den  tōshō: Amida-yasuri is not a feature typical for plain tōshō style
post-2065-0-09301400-1592688061_thumb.jpg
den Kanayama: here simply I can't understand why Kanayama school rather than whatever else
post-2065-0-98531400-1592688083_thumb.jpg
den Kanayama: nikubori carving surely not typical of Kanayama style
post-2065-0-31246300-1592688119_thumb.jpg
den Kunitomo-ha: just to remark the different meaning of "den" and "ha" (school)

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thank you all for the interresting answers.

 

When we go to a smaller school - Den Jingo - then it says it could be a Hayashi school work with Jingo traits?!

 

Michael

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Benson: What does “Den” mean in the use of “Den Rai Kunimitsu?”

 

Tanobe: The “Den” means that that sword is almost a Rai Kunimitsu. We use it meaning “almost”.

 

Benson: You mean the sword is lacking, so it is almost a Rai Kunimitsu?

 

Tanobe: No. That is where the misconception by collectors comes in. In some ways the sword might not have all the traits produced by that smith, but most of them, so we say “Den”. In this case it may be lacking somewhat, on the other hand it might have all the traits of a Rai Kunimitsu but in addition, it has work that is better or could be considered his best work. In this case it displays greater ability and qualities not normally seen in the smith so here again we use “Den”.

 

Here they talk about a specific smith.

 

But what means this compared to a Den Jingo atribution? Almost a 1./2. or 3. Master?

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Den Jingo means most likely by someone in the Jingo school BUT possibly by someone non-aligned directly to the school.  There were other tsuba shi in the area who could make copies so the shinsa team is saying it has a slight doubt otherwise it would receive 'Jingo'.  If they felt it was to a specific generation but had reservations they would say den Jingo Nidai or whatever.  In some schools such as Goto or Owari they will use a time period such as Goto Edo Shoki (early Edo).  What one shouldn't do is to go 'up' the ladder with a den attribution in fittings as if they meant higher they would have said it.  That's just wishful thinking and really won't get you anywhere in the long run.  

 

BTW - it's really important to understand that papers are just 'opinions' and attributions can be incorrect.  To me they act as a learning tool but don't make them the sole arbiter of your decisions.  It will take you ten to twenty years to begin to understand what really constitutes an attribution, especially if you live outside Japan and do not speak/read Japanese and nothing replaces hands on experience and the guidance of legitimate experts.

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