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Bugyotsuji

Serrated mimi, from Ninja tanto tsuba?

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Recently I came across a crude iron tanto tsuba with an indentation on one side for a hitsu implement. At first glance I thought it was a thick iron seppa. The edges were serrated like a saw blade, and the owner suggested, quite strongly, that it was from a Tanto carried by a Shinobi. "Very useful tool", he said, making motions of cutting through something.

 

I have seen so-called Ninja koshirae, with a long saw blade kozuka slid down one deep hitsu ana, but being of a somewhat sceptical nature, I wonder if anyone can add something to help tip the scales either way? 🕵️‍♂️

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Dear Piers,

 

Are you saying that the mimi of the tsuba is serrated like a saw?  I think that tsuba have similar rules to netsuke and must be wearable.  I don't think that you could wear or carry such a tanto comfortably.  More likely the tsuba is one of those "Jesuit" or "watch gear" tsuba that has lost its furukin.  Also, the kogatana with a serrated edge are generally thought to be bonsai tools (instead of romantic Ninja tools....)

Screen Shot 2020-08-18 at 7.23.25 PM.png

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Saw ninja katanas known as shikoro gatana are a fake of XX century, like the 90% of the ninja stuff.

Regarding tsuba, I suggest that the "saw shaped" tsuba or seppa, could be more related to a kiku shape, or in a second opinion a tokei shape, and in a third opinion a christian jesuitic anagram, but I don't think could exist such a "ninja seppa" as either don't exist a ninja tsuba.

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 George, thank you for your considered thoughts. I could not see any evidence that a rim mimi had once been attached. I looked because I do have an example of a tokei one like that, which has lost its circular outside guard. The serrated edge is more saw-like than the tokei remains, (one facet cut slanted) but so small that  it could not really give any  kind of damage to an opponent, except in a punch. At the same time it would surely be an uncomfortable irritant to the owner.  

 

SalaMarcos, yes, I agree with all of that. This tsuba looked old, though, so I was thinking that it must have had some kind of purpose. Hmmm....

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Dear Piers,

 

It seems have a bevel toward one side indicating that it was sandwiched with something else (probably with a bigger radius that protected the wearer from the serrated edge).

Thick Seppa.jpg

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Hard to tell the size and thickness from your photos, but assuming that your serrated disk is much larger than a standard seppa, I would believe that it would only be on the sword side of another larger disk (so only a two part tsuba).  So in mounting, the order would be habaki, seppa, then this serrated disk, then a larger radius tsuba, then a seppa, then fuchi.  I know we are used to seeing these kinds of things in pairs sandwiching a single larger tsuba in the middle (like the photo below), but I think this serrated one might have only been on one side (the sword side instead of the tsuka side) because if it is as large as it looks in your pictures and it were on the tsuka side of the larger disk when mounted, then it would hurt the hand in use.   Looking at your serrated disk from the top side (the smaller side of the beveled edge) can you see evidence of seppa or habaki wear?  I think I see habaki wear, which means that it would not have had another seppa between it and the habaki - thereby indicating that it may have been considered more like a seppa itself.  I just cannot see it as a tsuba itself - not practical to carry or use (unless against a larger disk with a smoother edge).

 

Sandwich.jpg

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Thank you for your thoughts, George. It’s a little larger than a seppa, and quite a bit thicker. Being iron, it would need seppa or something to stop it damaging anything it might rub against. I’ll be seeing some people tomorrow who may offer words of wisdom. I’ll also examine it for Habaki or seppa wear too.

G’nite! :thumbsup:

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A little off subject but in the same vein of tsuba themselves being used as a weapon.

I have just found a Japanese site that claims some tsuba were designed as sword breakers? https://nihontou.jp/choice03/tousougu/tuba/717/00.htm

I had thought this pattern represented a snow flake, but this site claims:

 

"A deformed collar shaped like a youkai that appears in manga. It's not just a design, it's meant to fold the opponent's blade with a dent and fold it, or to sharpen the blade, so the originator can be said to be a great warrior. It is a piece that you should carefully keep to remove the convex rust and keep it carefully as a good material for the actual stadium.
Not only artistic design value, but also a valuable material of Tsuba as a weapon." 

 

The translation is as usual poor, but the notches do look like those on a European swordbreaker .- the catch being that if you did happen to snag a blade edge you would probably have no fingers left with which to hold your own sword!                                                 

     Sword Breaker Knives/Daggers

01.jpg

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Took this in my pocket to a sword exhibition today and showed it to a collector. No hesitation. "Hamidashi tsuba," he said.

 

The jagged edge? Maybe could have been added later. He suggested what kind of seppa would go well with it. We  chatted for a few minutes about it, and then he started to walk away.

 

He half turned and gave me a funny look. "You do find some interesting things," he added.

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Today I brought it to the NBTHK local meeting and asked my sword appreciation no Sensei. It’s a seppa, he said, back from Muromachi when thin-walled iron tsuba were in the majority, to give added strength for warfare. There would have been one more. A very rare object, he added, admitting that he had never seen one himself before.

 

So the jury is still out...

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Good evening Old Bean,

 

Evidence of Absence is not Absence of Evidence....

Occam's Gillette....

Sho Kosugi.....

Numerous 12 year olds....

 

However, no sign of Ninja..........

 

Like Fight Club, if you can find a Ninja Dojo, it isn't.

 

Shinobi existed, but, hidden in plain sight, and part of the Densho of many Koryu.

 

Specific tools and impedimenta are a 20/21 Century construct, based upon Films and Manga.

 

Your NBTHK Sensei sounds the most plausible.

 

 

 

 

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Averting my eyes for a quick moment, in order not to spot the Ninja, may I just add to the anti-thesis, a comment from a dealer/collector friend yesterday who said, 'probably Edo Period.' This guy is usually pretty good, but he is not almighty as they often seem to say about each other. オールマイティではない。

 

Then he says, 'I'm sure I have one of those, ...somewhere,' crinkling his forehead.

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