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Peter Bleed

European blades in Japanese mounts?

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I have become involved in a project about a European blade that was mounted  as a "tachi". I see it as an interesting reflection of the Edo period craze for foreign stuff, but I wonder if it is unique. We all know about European fittings that were re-purposed in Japan. And there are those Japanese blades that Europeans mounted up to to their tastes. But I wonder if the NMB can point me to foreign blades that were given Japanese style koshirae?

Peter

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Excellent! I'd forgotten that one, Geraint. And, in fact weren't there a couple of these? And I think that Jason is correct in questioning whether or not these blades were actual cutters.

Thank you both!

Peter

 

 

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This is a snapshot of the sword I am thinking about. And as Jason observed, in addition to being rather crudely shortened, this blade has been given a Japanese polish with a hint of a kesho applied hamon.

Peter

nanban Tachi crop.jpg

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Further to the tanto mentioned by Geraint above. I first became acquainted with it when it was exhibited in a ToKen exhibition in Oxford way back. When it reappeared for sale I managed to purchase it for the Royal Armouries collection. A bit of digging has revealed the following:

 

Both the English and Dutch 'factories' in Japan were based on the island of Hirado during the early 17th century. The two groups were to some extent rivals, and there were some altercations between them, but somehow they rubbed along. The British finally closed their base in 1623 when Tokugawa Iemitsu became Shogun, in the main because the textiles they were trying to sell were of little interest to the Japanese and the principle trader, Cox or Cocks, was in reality more interested in trading with China. They did however managed to sell quite a number of decorated guns (none of which, nor any part of one, appears to have survived). The Dutch in contrast did quite well, trading in goods the Japanese did want. Whilst Tokugawa Ieyasu and his son Hidetada were tolerant of the foreigners, Iemitsu was less so, at first confining the Catholic Portuguese to the artificial island of Dejima in Nagasaki harbour, and then finally expelling them altogether. He then transferred the Dutch to Dejima so they could be more closely controlled and limited the number of ships they were allowed each year. On leaving Hirado, the Dutch presented the Matsura daimyo with a gift that included at least two pikeman's armours (that Matsura Hoin had made into a Japanese armour that is now in Hirado Museum) and at least one sword from the blade of which the above tanto was made. It appears to have been originally a cavalry sword with a blade made in Solingen in the early 17th century. The blade is dated and inscribed with the maker's name in the fuller, but the inscription is partially removed through polishing. Matsura Hoin had it cut down, shaped into a tanto and given a yakiba. The scabbard is covered in Dutch leather and the mounts decorated with the Matsura kamon appear to be solid gold. 

Ian Bottomley,  Curator Emeritus, Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds.

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Going the other way, there is a Nihon-to mounted in U.S. Navy Model 1852  officer’s sword mounts. Hard to date, because the mounts have been in continuous use since 1852. It was for sale some years ago. My impression is that it was done sometime before WW1.

 

Steve

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Glad you joined the party Ian, I think you showed me that tanto while it was being photographed.

 

And famously Field Marshall Festing had a Tadayoshi blade custom mounted in his official sabre!

 

All the best.

 

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Western Bayonet blade in Japanese mounts... I know nothing else about this piece, and it has been discussed elsewhere.

2.jpg

 

 

3.jpg

bayonet blade 1.jpg

Edited by Dave R

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