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Aoi Auction Sword - Please help me understand this description


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Hey Gang-

 I haven't posted in awhile, been covered up with getting a prototype into validation. I promised myself that I would put the nihonto down until I got this motorcycle on the road. I have been a good boy for an entire year....now it's time to have some fun!

This flashy Shinshinto caught my eye, but there is a lot of info to try to  wade through with the description.

I am assuming that the red lacquer is some sort of cutting test?

Is the cutting test from kansei 12 (1801), or is the sword made in kansei 12?

Any analysis from our wise forum members would be appreciated, I am thinking about bidding on this sword. Thanks -- JT 

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Hi JT.

 

It is the cutting test that is dated, that's right.  Tsuruta san's comments suggest that the blade was tested right after it was completed.  I can see why you are attracted to it.

 

All the best.

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Hey Geraint and Chris-

 Thanks for responding!

  Do Ya'll know what the cutting test actually says?

 The smith's name is really confusing as well....Was this sword made by Banshu Fujiwara/Fujishige/Tegarayama/Ujishige? I am totally lost and unsure of what name to actually try to research.....

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Once again, Aoi Art relies on a machine translation and comes up with a monstrous English description.

 

播州住藤原氏重
Banshū-jū Fujiwara Ujishige

 

Ujishige (first generation) typically signed with "Banshū Tegarayama" in his signatures. Aoi notes the absence of this phrase on this particular sword, and suggests it makes this sword an historically interesting piece. The first character of the cutting test is illegible. The second seems to be 陥, but Aoi is silent about it, so maybe he is unsure. Cutting test would have been performed well after the manufacture of the sword. 

 

寛政十二庚申歳四月  陥胴落之

April, 1800                         ... body cut in half

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The English listing of that sword is so carelessly done (google translated) that it actually becomes misleading.

 

First the smith. His correct reading is UJISHIGE, not FUJISHIGE (which is correctly quoted, however, further down the listing). Now according to the description, the blade is a work of the first generation Ujishige (氏重). Ujishige (氏重, ?–1755) was actually the third generation of his lineage, but changed the writing of his name later in his career to (氏繁) and that is when the counting of generations was so to speak reset. i.e., Ujishige III (氏重) becomes Ujishige I (氏繁). This lineage continued for four more generations until Ujishige V (氏繁) who was active in the early 1800s.

 

To be sure which Ujishige it is, I would ask them to provide a picture of the Tokubetsu Hozon paper as the NBTHK may clarify in parenthesis the generation. 

 

Now Aoi Art brings Shinsengumi Captain Nagakura Shinpachi into play who did wear an Ujishige (氏繁) sword, although it is unspecified which generation, and the description is worded in a way that could mislead someone believing that it was actually the sword for sale, which it is not. But they always do that, like listing a 550 Spyder and saying: "Did you know, also James Dean was driving a 550 Spyder?"

 

As for the cutting test, as it was performed in Kansei twelve (1800), it was obviously not done when Ujishige III (氏重) / Ujishige I (氏繁) made the blade as he died 45 years prior. Unfortunately, the two characters above the character for "body" have come partially off. The first appears to be (間), but I can't make out the one below. So at this point, the cutting test can only be translated as: "[This blade] cut in the fourth month of Kansei twelve (1800), year of the monkey, through a body at the height of ?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Steve, Markus-

 Thank you so much for this info!! I have some Nihonto royalty posting here and I am honored for the kind donation of your time! I will ask Mr. Tsuruda for the origami to provide further clarification. I like this blade...I hope that you also see value in it. 

PS - Markus - I have a copy of your encyclopedia....It has helped me countless times. Thank you for the dedication that it took to create this tool. -- JT

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Saw Steve replied at the same time, sharing the same sentiment about the translation.

 

@JT: Thank you for getting my encyclopedia! If you get a reply from them with the paper, please post it here so we can take a look.

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I think also there's a hint that any cutting test that isn't inscribed on the tang with the name of an identifiable sword tester should be taken with a great deal of circumspection. It will be interesting to see if the cutting test is confirmed in the paper.

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Markus-

 Here is the reply from Aoi after I asked them to verify the generation of the smith by providing an image of the NBTHK origami-

 

"Dear Sir

Thank you for your reply.
No, the NBTHK paper does not write it is the 1st generation, but we can know it by the signature. Thie signature of this sword is 氏重(Ujishige). Only the 1st generation sign 氏重, thereafter  2nd generation, they sign 氏繁(Ujishige). The 1st used different characters on his signature, so we can know this sword is the 1st generations.
Kind regards"
 
The "reset" of the generations of Ujishige is hard to grasp, but I think I have an understanding - Please correct me if I am wrong:
1st through 3rd generation signed - 氏重 (1655-1750's)
The 3rd generation changed his signature in the 1750's to 氏繁
Meaning that this sword was made by the 3rd Ujishige BEFORE he changed the signature  - sometime in the early part of the 1750"s....
 
Some 45-50 years later, somebody got curious about how that old Ujishige would perform as a cutter and tested it out....in 1800.
 
Do I have my facts straight? Thanks -- JT
 
 
 
 
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Two more questions please -

 Because this sword was probably made in the 1750's, It would NOT be classified shinshinto as I had originally assumed but rather, late shinto - correct?

 Where would I go to find out more about Ujishige? Is his work generally held in high regard? Auction ends tomorrow, so  - tick tock. -- JT

 

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I think there might be some miscommunication with Aoi due to the language barrier. I am not too well versed in later smiths but I think the following. I have always grouped all of them under Tegarayama, perhaps wrongly (but it makes it easier for me to understand).

 

I know some sources like Fujishiro list the first generations as Yamato no Daijō (大和大掾) because they used that title.

 

From the 1st generation Ujishige (氏重) the lineage lived in Himeji city in Harima province. Himeji castle is probably the most famous in Japan. Now when you look at Himeji map, there is Mt. Tegara (手柄山) [Tegarayama/Tegarasan] in the middle of the city. This group of swordsmiths worked in this area. I think Tegarayama is in some sources only used after the 3rd generation.

 

When Aoi is replying to you they are indicating [3rd gen. Ujishige (氏重) / 1st gen. Ujishige (氏繁)] in their answer. So they are not mentioning 1st and 2nd generations that signed with Yamato no Daijō as a possibility in their opinion. That is why they are saying only the 1st generation used 氏重.

 

There is lot of marketing buff for it in the ad but I feel it is a nice sword in overall. Unfortunately I lack sources on the later swords but you can try to google Tegarayama 手柄山, Masashige (4th. gen Ujishige 氏繁) 手柄山正繁 who is the most famous and well regarded smith of the group, Ujishige 手柄山氏繁.

 

The smith in question that changed the character is ranked chū-saku by Fujishiro. For Jūyō swords by Tegarayama smiths I believe 1st gen. (Yamato no Daijō) has 1, and Masashige has 14 items (including 2 daishō & 1 attachment Naginata for koshirae).

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Thank you Jussi!

 

Now I went through some papered Ujishige examples and learned that the NBTHK does tend to add Shodai (初代), First Generation, in parenthesis when they are referring to the "first first" generation that was active in the mid-1600s (see attached pic). Upon reversion, the lack of that not being mention on the paper does speak for the blade being a work by Ujishige III (氏重) / Ujishige I (氏繁). Also, the first two generations Ujishige (氏重) usually signed the SHIGE character very close to the UJI character, which is not the case with the blade in question either, what further suggests Ujishige III (氏重) / Ujishige I (氏繁).

 

The Ujishige lineage goes as follows, with their years of death stated and their main active periods according to the meikan:

 

Ujishige I (氏重, ?–1691) – Manji (万治, 1658–1661)

Ujishige II (氏重, ?–1718) – Genroku (元禄, 1688–1704)

Ujishige III (氏重, ?–1755) = Ujishige I (氏繁) – Genbun (元文, 1736–1741)

Ujishige II (氏繁, ?–1783) – Meiwa (明和, 1764–1772)

Ujishige III (氏繁, ?–1790) – Tenmei (天明, 1781–1789)

Ujishige IV (氏繁, ?–1790) = Masashige (正繁, 1760–1830) – Kansei (寛政, 1789–1801)

Ujishige V (氏繁, ?–?) – Bunka (文化, 1804–1818)

 

When it comes to the existing body of work of this lineage, it mostly goes back to Masashige (正繁) and to Ujishige I (氏重, ?–1691). Reason for that is the sword boom of the 1660s and the patronage of Masashige. Ujishige III (氏繁, ?–1790) died early and Ujishige V (氏繁) was overshadowed by his predecessor Masashige. The others were active when the demand for swords had decreased significantly.

 

Regarding your question whether later shintō or shinshintō, you are correct, the blade falls into the former category. Shinshintō is usually linked to the work of Suishinshi Masahide (水心子正秀, 1750–1825), or to be precise, to his attempt of reviving kotō sword making roughly starting in the 1780s.

 

 

 

Papers.png

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Jussi, Markus-

Your dedication to this subject is beyond my comprehension. I am, and will probably will always be, a dilatant here. An rank armature interloper. My final question is this:

I don't have anything like this blade in my humble little collection of mostly Ebay stuff. Does this sword represent good value at 750,000 yen? This would be the most expensive piece of nihonto that I have bought by a 2x factor. A little sage and salubrious advise would be most welcome. Thank you for your time! -- JT

 

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You are very welcome, JT.

Maybe others can chime in as I am afraid, I am no longer allowed to give any monetary evaluations or make comments on such (museum policy).

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Markus- 

 You on a HNL (hole nutha level), like, Yoda style Brah! If you ever get down to NOLA, please let me know!

 In the meantime, could you please give me a recommendation for another one of your books?  

Anybody else? I am not afraid of putting it out there, getting made fun of, subjecting my taste to critique....I am used to it, big part of my professional life so I have thick skin. Is the sword in question worth the price of admission? Thanks all! -- JT

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3 hours ago, jt nesbitt said:

Is the sword in question worth the price of admission? 


Here is where it gets difficult to give advice… everyone’s ‘price of admission’ is different.  Anyone can tell you to spend your hard earn money, or how to spend it… or tell you that you should wait and spend 10x more of your hard earned money.  Sooner or later the decision is on you alone.  And really, you are the only one that has to live with your decision… unless you are worried about showing your blades and hoping everyone else likes them.

 

Do you have the $?  Do you love it?  Do you love it enough to love it no matter what anyone says after you buy it?  Not to be rude… but do you know enough about nihonto to decide this is the blade for you and love it long term?  

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You have to be on a life-long 'trip' to collect Nihonto.  If I worried about the money I have unwisely spent I'd never get any sleep, but the knowledge gained in the process - about swords, values and people, especially people - has been priceless.  At 77 yo and 55 years in collecting I have realised that one ideally needs to have sh-loads of money to do it well, but great satisfaction can be had at the lower levels of collecting far down from the stratospheric levels.  We see this here all the time...

 

BaZZa.

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5 hours ago, jt nesbitt said:

If you ever get down to NOLA, please let me know!

You'd better take him to Commander's Palace, JT!

 

On this sword, to summarize, the origami isn't specific enough on which generation, & there aren't specifics on the cutting test. Those two factors, alone, ould keep me from buying this blade, even if it was priced considerably lower.

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Dont be disheartened, plenty of others to choose from. keep looking and look broadly! That way you may also start to narrow down what it is in particular that you want to collect.

 

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11 hours ago, jt nesbitt said:

Well dang. I just got outbid. Lost this one by 1,000 Yen. Bummer. Thanks to everybody who posted and paid attention.  -- JT

 

You most likely lost by more than 1000 yen. The final price of an auction is the 2nd best bid (yours) + the bid increment (1000 yen here). If the winning bidder outbade you by 1000 or 100K yen, the final price will still be the same.

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4 hours ago, francois2605 said:

 

You most likely lost by more than 1000 yen. The final price of an auction is the 2nd best bid (yours) + the bid increment (1000 yen here). If the winning bidder outbade you by 1000 or 100K yen, the final price will still be the same.

 

To slightly hijack, this is a question I've been wondering about. To confirm, AOI's auctions work like EBAY auctions? You put in your top bid and they bid up for you pending other bids, correct? So No matter what bid you put in, if no one else bids it would be the starting bid.  Thanks.

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