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Can kirikomi be polished out?


GrahamC
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Well hi guys. I've lingered on the edge of sword collecting for some time but for most of my life finances didn't allow for a piece of art to sit and be appreciated just by me - my good lady, although understanding, isn't as in awe of Japanese blades as I am.

 

But time moves, mortgages are cleared, pay grades improve and swords follow, so I have one or two nice blades which I hope to showcase at some time. I started tamely with a papered blade which came my way through an auction and closed out at a very low price. It originated from Aoi Art and I purchased it off the chap who had it for several years - a fairly safe purchase.

 

This however is not my question, that's just my introduction.

 

My question concerns Kirikomi.

 

I have a sword (ito maki no-tachi) (currently in storage at an auction house awaiting delivery) which has  one kirikomi in the mune and one in the shinogi. I've already researched whether this devalues the sword (I think it does) , so my question  is this - can a good sword polisher disguise them?

 

It might sound like a very basic question to many of you, however the sword is out of polish but to my untrained eye worthy of restoring, if only for my own delight. I like it enough to consider the expense. The blade is signed Bizen No Suke Muentsugu.

 

image.thumb.png.05dfc92d58a79546c1bb6e4bb4683fe1.png

 

My understanding of any polishing process, is that it removes material. I've often seen it stated that a good polisher can remove some nicks to a blades edge, but I don't see how without reprofiling the blade completely. Clearly I have much to learn, hence asking the question.

 

I understand there are no 'fully qualified' polishers in the uk, however this blade may not be worth a trip to Japan so decisions and discussion will ensue.

 

The damage:

 

image.thumb.png.65ab74cc50e9a0537bd7b7d5172e3de1.png

 

Many thanks in advance.

 

GrahamC

 

 

 

 

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True kirikomi absolutely do not devalue a blade. They are not a flaw like a ware, for example. They are part of a blade's history. Some collectors simply do not like them all that much for personal / aesthetic reasons. But my personal opinion is that a kirikomi should not be polished out. Doing so would require way too much change to the geometry of the sword. It would be a mistake. It would be better to pass the sword on to a collector that enjoys kirikomi and find a more pristine blade if that's your style.

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Kirikomi are generally not polished out, they are regarded as "honorable scars" and part of the swords history, and actually no they don't generally devalue a blade. It is unlikely they would successfully polish out, it would involve removing too much material. With your sword there is very little to worry about. I have just bought a sword with three kirikomi of a similar size to the ones you have illustrated and don't consider them a problem, far from it.

Edit sorry Michael beat me to it but at least we are saying the same thing.

 

Edited by paulb
error in text
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And a good polisher will know how much material will need to be removed to get rid of the kirikomi and advise you accordingly… let their trained advice be your guide.

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I saw a blade with a kirikomi that had a piece of the blade that stuck this sword. There is no way that I would remove that kirikomi. I agree with the above comments on keeping them and if you can't live with them pass the blade on to someone who would be happy to have a battle tested blade.

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Speaking from personal taste: I think it adds to the aesthetics of the blade and gives it SO much more appreciable history. Its like the difference between an issued versus a non-issued WWII rifle. Both not withstanding fatal flaws, most collectors go for the issued piece.

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I can’t imagine wanting to polish out kirikomi unless one knew that the damage was not...historical, so to speak. Being that a large part of my interest in Nihonto revolves around the history of Japan and the blade’s place in that history, I would see most kirikomi as an added value rather than a detraction.

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I have learned to value the judgement of trained togi and whilst kirikomi are of little import, you do want to have your sword exhibit all of its beauty. It may require some patience, sending it to be assessed for polish will eliminate doubt. John

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I hope I’m not talking out of turn but I like the Kirikomi my swords have. Some of the swords look rather slender and insubstantial so it’s a nice reminder to see that even those were tested about as harshly as a sword could be (a fight) and survived.

 

Battle scars on the mune and shinogi remind me of the proofing marks old European armor have. I personally would not trade sword metal in exchange of their removal.

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If you study how the swords were used, and what part was used to block etc, you will eventually have a good idea if the marks are from battle, or from kids play fighting much later in life.
Those that are plausibly from battle (in areas feasible to be used to block) don't reduce value to much, and I would leave them in place. Yours, I would leave as is if it were mine. Rest of the sword looks good.

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Hi Graham,

Pretty much what everyone else has said. Kirikomi don't really devalue a blade and for many collectors having a battle-tested blade enhances the pleasure of ownership. Those on your blade are not out of keeping with being caused by deflecting a blade during a fight and I would think of them as enhancing its collectability rather than the reducing it, though I think it may be possible to have too much of a good thing:

https://tokka.biz/sword/suesa3.html

 

The chunk missing from the mune in this blade I feel mars what would otherwise be a fantastic blade and would be hard for me to live with.

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Many thanks to all who replied.

 

As I already suspected, the geometry of the blade would be altered significantly, therefore they simply stay as they are.

 

The blade hasn't been well cared for and does require a polish. Now I will be needing the advice of a UK polisher before deciding which route to take.

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Graham,

Might I suggest as a first step you show your sword to a member of the token Society of GB? fortunately living where you do you are very close to a couple of long term collectors and members who can help you lot in going through the process. They also know those involved in various restoration work.

If this is of interest drop me a pm and i can put you in touch with someone

Regards

Paul

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