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AntiquarianCat

Looks Like O-suriage Kanbun Shinto? But What School Could Have Made?

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Hello Again, I grabbed this sword because I thought the old Koshirae handsome, the blade was mostly in polish and didn’t have many kizu, and it was at a good price. The downside is its lost its signature due to O-suriage and while I’m sure I’m looking at a Kanbun sugata, I’m not finding it all that easy to pin it down to a school/region.

Very little curvature for sure (8mm), even compared to the sword Mr. Benson said was Bizen Muromachi which was not terribly curved. What curvature it has seems to start early, although I’m not sure just how much losing close to 10cm in length might have affected the shape. Nagasa length is still 66.2cm despite having been shortened to lose of much of the original nagako.

As far as hada goes it looks like it starts with komokume and then further up the blade are large structures I think are some type of itame with small grain inside, often bordered by dark nie grains. I’m not sure but it looks a bit like the description of Echizen or Musashi hada from Connoisseur’s. Also the Shinogi has some roundish wood grain.

The Hamon I can’t tell if it suguha or komidare, it’s straightish but wobbles a bit, might have hotsure. The kisaki looks like a chukisaki with a hakikake boshi. Nagako has katte sagari that seem to disappear above the first hole.

 

So I guess my questions are: Am I correct in assuming this is a Kanbun Shinto? Would the sword having been produced near Edo be a reasonable guess? And is there any point in taking this to a shinsa once they return to America?

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Oh, and also this is the first time I’ve owned an old koshirae and the tsuka feels a bit rickety. I worry that if I handle it too much it will deteriorate, or the remaining bits of gold on the tsuba will fall off. I’m not sure what I can’ do to keep in in good condition apart from keeping it in a dry environment? Could Lohman or someone else do conservation work on the tsuka and saya without it losing its originality?

Also if it helps at all with the sleuthing, I've attached photos of the torokusho and export paperwork. Thank you again everyone.

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This is another photo of the large hada structures that start midway up the blade (picture 4 in my 1st post is another example). Is this what they refer to as "coarse"?

Also as an addenum: the motohaba is 2.9cm and sakihaba is just under 2cm. The kasane seems fairly thick. Both of which I guess fit in with a Kanbun period blade.

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Yes, likely Kanbun Shinto. Always look at the bare-blade sugata to determine jidai. Although there is some mokume hada, it's primarily itame. Nice hakikake in the ura boshi, & sunagashi. I'd consider sending this blade for polishing.

 

If the blade came with shirasaya, I'd store it in that, so you don't have to wonder about messing up the tsuka. If something is flaking off the tsuba, you can assume it was a modern addition.

 

Nice find, Juan.

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Thank you for the help and advice Ken. I guess I still have trouble telling itame and mokume apart whenever they’re remotely roundish. Would I be correct in assuming a classically trained polisher would charge about 3000$ to polish this blade?

Also, I don't have a shirasaya for this, which adds to the moisture damage concerns I had. Also much of the silver inlay on the Fuchi and Kashira has fallen off and nearly all the gold on the tsuba, save for a bit on a few of the animals is gone. I worry that if I'm not careful, it could be all gone in the future.

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Dear Juan.

 

First of all, I like your sword.  Don't worry about the tsuba, there is nothing left to concern you with that one.  Any restoration of the tsuka will really involve at least a re bind and possibly a new core.  Up to you but my feeling is keep until you really need to change.

 

As to sugata.  Hhmmm!  The yokote seems to have been put in the wrong place by the last polisher, according t your third photo.  Given that it should be a few millimetres back that makes the kissaki a little longer.  You estimate that it has lost 100mms through suriage so 766mms at least, possibly more.  You mention some mokume hada in the shinogi, which is rather narrow isn't it?  The boshi is not what one would expect from a Shinto sword, (and by Kanbun Shinto is well established), neither to my eye is the hada.  

 

I realise that I am posing more questions than giving answers but that's how it goes with this study.  Just to illustrate this you might like to work your way through this post.  

 

 

I am looking forward to what others have to say on this one but I don't think we have got to the bottom of it yet.

 

All the best.

 

 

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That is very interesting, so if I read your analysis between the lines right, it sounds like an implication is that this possibly could have been a large, pre kanbun sword that’s been cut down to losing its curvature and looking kanbun like, and having had its kissaki reduced in size to fit edo period conventions?
Yes the Shinogi seems somewhat narrow compared to some other swords I’ve held, and there are some of those circular woodgrain patterns on it. I’ve read that isn’t too common in Shinto but I assumed this was just one of many exceptions.

And thank you again Geraint, Ken and all the experienced collectors sharing their knowledge with me.

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Juan,

 

I like your sword. The trouble with an Ō-suriage sword is that it greatly change the original sugata. Since it is shortened, it takes away from the sori, the nakago is also modified, so what looks like Kanbun Shinto May actually be something else. That’s the problem with rules, you always find something to contradict them. At first sight, it looks Kanbun, and it might have been made around that date, but it could also be slightly earlier when the shape wasn’t already entirely set in stone. Then again, I believe, probably falsely, that you’re not too far off in terms of period.

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Hello everyone, I’d like to retract my claim about the Kasane being wide, it’s only about 6.5cm (I don’t have calipers which makes precision hard) whereas the Muromachi blade I’m using as a point of reference is just over 7mm. It’s more that the shinogi not being high makes the kassane look thick.

 

As for JP: I completely agree, I’m still learning the ropes so the shape having changed makes it all the harder to pin down. I haven’t studied a kanbun blade in person in the past so I don’t have a gut reaction as to how well this fits. I’m not sure but the Nagako makes it look like it lost some of its curvature. I wonder if this could have been a cut down Momoyama/keicho since those are described as being rather large, with longish kisaki and not much curvature? I’m definitely going to take this one to a shinsa once those come back.

 

And Christian: In some regards, like the Kisaki and it’s hakikake Boshi, the type of cold toned hues this takes under a daylight temperature bulb and small wood grains accompanied by larger coarse grains, this does remind me more of the Muromachi Bizen sword than the Mino style Shinto sword I owned which had much more even Hada and warm toned grey look; I’d just assumed that was due to this being made in a different part of the country and a couple generations earlier but maybe there is more to the looks difference than I though. That said, this sword, despite being a cut down, feels more substantial than the Muromachi one(mihaba is a bit bigger for instance). Maybe that’s just because this one was larger to begin with?

I guess I’m still pretty confused as to what I have. Kanbun? Cut down Momoyama? Or something else?

Thank you again everyone this thread has definitely been good food for thought.

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I should probably clarify my last comment about the kassane by saying I meant the definition that uses mune width. Also, I took a few more photos of both sides of the boshi, I'd left the other one out because it was somewhat out of polish but here goes...

It does look like the dense boshi pattern extends past the kissaki,  which does fit what people told me about it having been moved forward. Is that a typical way of shortening a kissaki? Especially in pre modern times?

Also, would the boshi, especially the one on the lower image be an example of kaen? Thank you again everyone for all your help.

 

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Kanbun swords were made to standard lengths for the period - a sword so long it needed to be cut down would be a rare thing from this time period. More likely it had greater curve before being cut down. I would be looking in Yamato - nagare hada - sunanagashi - hakkikake - chu-suguha - short or no turn back - suggests Yamato to me. This is Koto imho.

-t

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On 9/26/2020 at 8:34 PM, AntiquarianCat said:

It does look like the dense boshi pattern extends past the kissaki,  which does fit what people told me about it having been moved forward. Is that a typical way of shortening a kissaki?

Dear Juan.

 

Forgive me, I am not quite sure what you mean here.  As I am sure you know most shortening takes place at the nakago as it is not possible to do much work on the kissaki without losing the boshi.  However relatively small changes in shape at the kissaki do occur.  Have a look here for some information on what typically happens.  http://www.ksky.ne.jp./~sumie99/wornshape.htm

 

Momoyama swords are made with the sugata of cut down earlier swords but usually with well formed and finished nakago.

 

Have a look around the information that Tomas sugests.  For what it's worth I also think this is koto, you have the sword in hand, do you think it is suriage with the lower mehugi ana being original or do you think it is o suriage with neither of the current mehugi ana being original?  That makes a deal of difference to the original nagasa and hence the potential time of manufacture.

 

Good this hobby, isn't it?  Endless study and just when you think you might be getting somewhere you learn something else and everything goes out of the window.

 

Enjoy!

 

All the best.

 

 

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looks like a koto sword not like shinto. What does it looks under the habaki?

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Hello Everyone, thanks again for the advice and sorry for putting off replies. 
I’m sorry Gueraint, I misunderstood your previous comment and thought you meant a polisher reshaped the Kissaki by moving the Yokote forward. Yes, this definitely is interesting, I had presumed Kanbun (cut down for some reason) because I wanted to keep my expectations from being overly high. That said things like the boshi did remind me a bit of of koto swords I've seen and combined with osuriage did make me wonder if it could have been older. I guess I got lucky, I’ll definitely be reading on what was suggested. 

On 9/29/2020 at 4:13 AM, Geraint said:

For what it's worth I also think this is koto, you have the sword in hand, do you think it is suriage with the lower mehugi ana being original or do you think it is o suriage with neither of the current mehugi ana being original? 

 

I'm not experienced at judging these things but I think nearly all of the original nagako is gone: I took a closer look and it seems that at the far end of the nagako are very worn yasurime at a much sharper angle than the posthoc looking ones that are on the area around the lower ana (and stop well below the higher ana). That makes me think the nagako has been shortened more than once,  the lower ana is not original and probably neatly all the old nagako is gone. I hope this photo depicts what I said; I just moved and my camera is in a box somewhere so apologies if the image quality is low.

On 9/29/2020 at 1:22 AM, Toryu2020 said:

I would be looking in Yamato - nagare hada - sunanagashi - hakkikake - chu-suguha - short or no turn back - suggests Yamato to me. This is Koto imho.

Thank you for pointing me in that direction. I've never held a Yamato blade before so no wonder I couldn't recognize something in that style be one. Now that I pay attention, this does sound like the book description of nagare, and I see masame in places like the hamon and near it.

On 9/29/2020 at 12:26 PM, vajo said:

looks like a koto sword not like shinto. What does it looks under the habaki?

I'm sorry, I am having trouble removing it. From the looks of it, they hammered habaki’s ends in after they shortened it to keep it from falling off but now it's stuck. I'm not sure it there is a way to get it off without damage?

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I've just posted in the for sale section a wakizashi project that's very similar in construction to this even to hakikaki on one side of the boshi and the pronounced jigane. 

It's an shinto ubu unsigned wakizashi 

Have a look you might find similarities in construction. 

 

 

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Thank you for the example Adam. That's a nice sword, I can definitely see some similarities with the masame and itame and the hamon. It makes me wonder if both are influenced by a similar tradition. I guess the biggest difference I see is that this sword’s large nagare and masame structures seem more prominent... Or perhaps that's just a trick of the light and optical illusion because the small grains are not prominent.

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On 9/29/2020 at 12:16 AM, doomsdaymachine said:

Is this Satsuma style koshirae? No menuki, deep kashira, beefy tsuka and udenuki ana in the tsuba?

That is very interesting indeed. I know very little about koshirae so I assumed the menuki were just missing and those holes were just damage (even though that doesn't seem to be a typical way metal exibhits damage) but this sure does sound like your description of satsuma koshirae. It sure looks like other examples I can find. It's a shame the precious metal inlays are nearly gone in mine, but I guess that gives is a wabisabi vibe which fits in with an antique so it's not all bad. Deffinitely glad I grabbed this sword.

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