Jump to content
sechan

Mei Translation

Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, sechan said:

when did they start using Kokuin in mei?

I'd like to hear the answer to that question too! 

 

While we wait, I can tell you that the small stamp at the top is the "Seki" stamp.  I assume there is no date on the other side of your nakagoa?  They are seen on blades from 1940-1945, with the majority of them seen on 1942 blades.  So that will give you an window of time you blade came from.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking of the kokuin, I had been assuming that the presence of a kao (hot stamp or an inscribed mark) would indicate the blade was made traditionally, because blades can be found by that same smith that don't have the kao.  But this blade has a Seki stamp which means it was not.  Hmmmm.   Of course, this hearkens back to the debate about stamps - are they always an indication of a non-traditionally made blade, or could they sometimes simply be an acceptance stamp.

 

The answer could lie in the reality that some blades with a smith's mei were really made by apprentices, so maybe the kao would indicate that this blade was made by the smith?  Another issue is that many WWII blades were signed by a professional mei-cutter (there's a word for that).  Maybe the presence of the kao, simply means the mei was cut by the smith himself?

 

What we know for a fact is that the government ordered all non-traditionally made blades to be stamped.  We do not have proof that stamps were being used in other ways, so with the assumption that the Seki stamp on the blade means that it was non-traditionally made, then the kao's significance lies somewhere else, like who made it or signed it.

 

Sorry for cluttering up your thread with my ruminations, but it was rolling and I needed to work through that!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your whole quandary assumes that the kao indicates traditionally made. That is not true, based on many examples. So your quest will have to revolve around what it does indicate, and not whether we are wrong about Seki stamps.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Brian said:

based on many examples

Yes, my thoughts too.  I know the kao is just a personal mark for the smith, this blade shook my subconscious assumptions loose when I saw it had both the Seki stamp and kao.  I'm firmly planted on the "inspector stamps mean non-traditionally made" side of the camp.

 

As to the original question - how long have smiths been using kao - I want to say I've seen some pretty old blades with them, but I haven't kept track of them and/or the ages.  Hopefully some of the nihonto guys can opine.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting, I wonder if kao stamps were used only during some periods of time of the country, e.g. wars etc... or just an inspectors proof mark at the armory as they did on firearms...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, sechan said:

 inspectors proof mark

We know they weren't army inspector marks, they were definitely personalized marks, like the "check-mark" of Nike.  I've just never read a dedicated article on them that went into their history.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Bruce Pennington said:

Yes, my thoughts too.  I know the kao is just a personal mark for the smith, this blade shook my subconscious assumptions loose when I saw it had both the Seki stamp and kao.  I'm firmly planted on the "inspector stamps mean non-traditionally made" side of the camp.

 

As to the original question - how long have smiths been using kao - I want to say I've seen some pretty old blades with them, but I haven't kept track of them and/or the ages.  Hopefully some of the nihonto guys can opine.

 

Hi Bruce,

I don't recall seeing a kokuin/ kao hot-stamp on a blade before the shin shinto period but I'm struggling to think of examples - it's the era of Taikai Naotane that I'm thinking about but in this game as soon as you say it's definitely anything a contradicting example pops up. Also I remember reading that (and I may have this wrong) Inoue Shinkai and another smith used to put a couple of marks on the nakago jiri to subtly differentiate their blades from potential copies and so the idea of adding an additional identifying mark on the tang potentially comes from earlier than that.

 

Edit: Was overlooking other carvings such as Aoi mon and the like. Had a quick flick through Markus Sesko's Shinshinto meikan, Kanzan Sato's Shinto Oshigata Dictionary and Shinto Bengi Oshigata. The earliest example of a carved Kao was on a Suishinshi Masahide blade from 1788 and the earliest hot-stamped kokuin I spotted was on another of his blades from 1798. Not definitive, but hopefully indicative.

 

As regards this example, is it possible that this is a middling quality blade?

 

The mei doesn't look like the normal nakirishi made signature so presumably the smith did it himself or it least it was done with greater care and added his seal to it so, in terms of the attention it got at that stage of manufacture, it's potentially a step or two up from the machine made blades as presumably there is something about the way it was made that sets it aside from those. It's a bit of a generalisation but typically a longer the signature and more information being provided on the tang point towards more love and care being put into the blade by the smith and, therefore, something superior to standard manufacture. That said, in this case we can presume that it did not tick all of the boxes to be considered fully traditionally made so it got the Seki stamp.

 

To the OP, is there anything about the blade that would indicate non-mass produced manufacture? Water quenching, folded blade...or something about the fittings that might mean they were a custom order to go with the blade or at least that they were non-standard?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Shugyosha said:

I spotted was on another of his blades from 1798

Thanks for looking into that for us John!  At least it gives us a "earliest known" date we can reference.

 

The sakura pattern on the tsuba (1st pic), shows that this is one of the gunto that Ohmura calls an Army Civilian Employee Gunto (probably Gunzoku).

 

731861442_Screenshot2020-11-26072914.thumb.jpg.9903ce7b60fccdf0ca7399a0813cec1d.jpg

 

They are discussed HERE on NMB.  There is another thread, which I haven't found yet, that quotes a WWII survivor that describes this pattern fittings as something a village paid to have made for one of their people going off to war.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...