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Not wanting to Hijack a For Sale post that are discussing this topic, I thought that I would start another discussion about Samurai Thumbprints here.

I have this Tsuba attributed to the Bushu school which has a wear mark that appears to have been done by constant wearing by a thumb.

1. How likely is this to be so ?

Thought: - If this was worn with  Kozuka nearest body as it should, then the thumb would rest quite a way over the rim.

I am constantly being told off by my Iaido teacher for doing this as it is a cert giveaway if you move it to loosen sword in Saya.

He suggests just enough thumb not to be obvious but ALWAYS on Tsuba holding Katana safely in Saya.

What are your views?

Gwyn

Thumb.jpg

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If the koshirae fits the sword correctly then you need firm thumb pressure to the tsuba to push the sword from the saya. 

I've seen photos of Samurai with the sword almost upside down and there being no signs of it coming loose. 

This one is 1867

28F969DF00000578-3092617-image-a-34_1432296568513.jpg

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Ahem; the guy on the right appears to have his index finger hooked over the tsuba and they guy in the middle appears to have the sageo, or something like it, wrapped around the tsuka and over the tsuba, one would guess for the purpose of holding the sword in the saya. Not to say that the sword might not have stayed in the saya anyway, but they weren't trusting to that.

 

Cheers, Michael

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I have this tsuba (picture taken of the rear) which shows considerable wear to the arcs at the ends of the slots, especially the one at 11.00 o'clock- probably because of rubbing against the clothing.

Ian Bottomley

IMG_20191217_0002.jpg

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Gwyn, I agree with your observation. Your thumb is always on the tsuba, at 11 o'clock, both to hold the blade in the saya, & to facilitate drawing it. Putting the thumb at 12 o'clock can easily get you a split, bloody thumb, & a mess on the blade.

 

However, when you draw the blade, the wear will be on the bottom of the tsuba, as it faces your opponent.

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I have heard the opinion that "tekkotsu", or iron bones, can result from uneven wear such that the softer iron is worn away and the harder steel of the tekkotsu becomes more prominent.  I'm not presenting it as fact, but just a concept that has been presented to me.  

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Those color tin type are staged...much like the old west that we have at amusement parks here in us. 

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Perhaps but the picture was taken by a photographer given unprecedented access to samurai with instructions to comply with his needs.

Picture was taken in the late 1800's and is part of a national collection not noted as staged photography other than the usual ”stand here” direction.

Whatever the case all is mere speculation as of this point for any suggested thumb wear.You will never know, so cannot say it is or indeed if it isn't.

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Good afternoon Gentlemen,

 

The Silver Albumen print of the three figures in #2 is ascribed to  Felice Beato c.1865; Beato was working in Japan between 1863  - 1884.

 

The armour worn by the seated figure shows up in another Beato image, also dated 1865.

 

Reference: Gallerie Verdeau Paris, who exhibited both images at the London Photograph Fair in 2015.

 

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/pictures/stunning-vintage-photographs-depict-daily-life-19th-century-Japan-10284236.html

 

Beato produced Commercial Albums which were extremely popular in the West.

 

He is referenced as one of the earliest Photo Journalists, having documented a variety of events Worldwide.

 

Just an addendum regarding Tsuba control.

 

A few Koryu use the thumb  (As it faces forwards) at 1 o'clock (11o'clock from the observer's POV) and the index finger curled around the front of the tsuba at 7 o'clock (5 o'clock observers POV).

 

Also a certain Household in Kyushu advised its young Samurai against random acts of violence, enforcing them to tie their swords closed with a knotted paper string through the Kozuka Hitsu ana and Kurikata, there are Tsuba which  have a hole precisely for this purpose. .

 

Would you want to tangle with this fine gentleman, back in the day?

 

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/285902

 

PS The Circle and Cross Kamon shown in both images in the Independent Newspaper article, is still associated with the Shimadzu Family.

 

 

 

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Cheerio is right Malcolm.

Mr Beato used the props to stage his photos not really knowing how samurai wore ther sword.  There's one some where with a togi polishing swords. 

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There are genuine images of actual named Samurai taken during the Bakumatsu.

 

Probably the most famous are those of of Sakamoto Ryoma:

 

904861418_download(2).jpg.d7cb1249893ac58744d974d3f76ac7c7.jpg

 

Katsu Kaishuu

 

800px-Kaishu_Katsu_2.thumb.jpg.ef9239482e5da6cf6bdfcfac5ed52eca.jpg

 

And here's a Conte (Chalk Drawing from Life) of Saigo Takamori, by Edoardo Choisonne

 

800px-Saigo_Takamori.thumb.jpg.bb44136bd741e74d1d8864fd2a07ab7a.jpg

 

Note the Kamon of the Satsuma and the Shimadzu Family.

 

Here's a link to Sengan En and the Legacy of the Shimadzu Family, which is curated by Alex Bradshaw, who hails from Sheffield:

 

https://www.senganen.jp/en/

 

This should fill in some gaps between Hollywood Fantasy and Reality:

 

https://www.senganen.jp/en/topic/news-en/

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