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Bit of a mystery


johnnyi
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Hello.  Hoipefully some of you can comment or enlighten regarding exactly what this piece is. It is iron measuring 80.7mm tall by 66.5 mm wide, by 1.8mm at edge and 2.2mm at dseppa dai.  The tsuba appears to be covered with possibly a composite resembling gold, or some type of amalgam. I know it does not react to vinegar, nor is there any evidence of a corrosion of any kind.  The plate itself appears to have been folded once (tosho style), as evidenced by wall of seppa dai.  * it is unclear to me whether the coating , gold leaf, or whatever, was applied before or after the tsuba was fitted to the sword. 

 

My guess, due to the squarish seppa dai, is something perhaps Chinese or Korean. It has been suggested to me however, that it could be Tosho, but an unusual shape. Here are some pictures which refuse to show the glint of the covering:    Thanks for your input      JohnnyI

 

 

s-l1600 (7).jpg

tsuba face.jpg

tsuba verso.jpg

tsuba fold.jpg

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What a kind good bunch you are not to comment. It was pointed out to me that what I was seeing was a photographic illusion of a fold within the seppa. Boy, that changes everything I think. It might be old but maybe oldish. The gold leaf is however gold leaf and crudely applied within nakago.  Thanks  John

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These show a little better. It seems that there is a substance between the "gold" and the iron. Was there a cheap leaf that might have been adhered to paper , due to it's weakness maybe?, that was applied to the iron? I see in my picture one of those pesky "folds" is there too.  

WIN_20211007_16_28_53_Pro.jpg

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Looks to me as if it could be a ' background seppa ' ( for want of a better description ) to show off a sukashi tsuba such as attached ( although this is, I think , a tsuba like object  , rather than the real thing ). Could have looked quite effective if the gold colour is toned down as at present - a bit flashy if much brighter.

 

IMG_1366.JPG

IMG_1367.JPG

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5 hours ago, johnnyi said:

What a kind good bunch you are not to comment. It was pointed out to me that what I was seeing was a photographic illusion of a fold within the seppa. Boy, that changes everything I think. It might be old but maybe oldish. The gold leaf is however gold leaf and crudely applied within nakago.  Thanks  John

 

I didn't see this post until now.

The blunt truth is I don't know.  My first instinct is that it is probably older than it looks and I'd have to send you to one of the guys like Boris M. that have a lot more experience than me with the much earlier stuff.

 

Then again, I could be totally wrong.

Still, first instinct is older. If Korean, then it falls into the older than the things I know category. If Chinese, gotta ask someone else.

 

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I don't think Gold leaf will stick to iron by itself, it is either glued, mercury gilding or nunome. I can't see any cross hatching so not nunome. Are the photos taken at an angle? The guard doesn't look symmetrical. 

Very thin and with a slightly rough surface texture, could it have been gilded much later than when it was first made.

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Thank you gentlemen for your comments. It is very interesting about the background "seppa" which I was unaware existed, but will now keep my eyes open for. This piece (which is slightly irregular and thus too crude for such a piece i think. 

 

A friend knowledgable in antiquities has suggested this morning that urushi is the coating. This would make sense of what we're seeing, and conform with what we're seeing. By the way, we are also seeing years of what looks like wax and dirt on the ura. The other side, face, has been cleaned apparently by the seller. 

Curran, my first instinct also leans to very old, but  that could certainly be wrong. I must take better pictures, as there does seem to be some deeper intentional scoring in exposed areas around the ana, but deeper than what you'd see in normal cross hatching. Perfexct though for providing a base for a lacquer such as urushi.  Still don't know much about this one.

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Given some of the wear pattern and appearance, I had considered some sort of powdered gold in urushi application.

The problem is that could have been done at any time.

 

Just to educate myself a little bit, I have worked with urushi before- more along the line of fountain pen work.

That is far from enough to have an educated opinion about antique urushi work, and certainly not anything to base opinions about older lacquerwork.

When it comes to the old lacquer, - ?ask an expert in Nara?

 

I've been interested in some Ko-Nara tsuba work, as Mr. Sesko wrote/translated was classified as the workmanship of temple ornament and implement makers. It definitely has a different feel to it and pretty much seems to have disappeared by the late 1600s, eclipsed by what we know as Nara work.

    When I see something usual with a degree of bling to it, yet looking old.... I think to look towards the people that worked in the Nara area.

[Please forgive the open thoughts just thrown up here stream of consciousness style, -it is busy at work and I am typing this in between various whack-a-mole type small jobs.].

 

 

 

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Thanks Curran,  foryour stream of consciousness . Yes, you are right that the  urushi could have been applied any time. When ever that time was, it seems to have been  long enough time to wear most of the urushi  away on the seppa dai. You're also right that I probably won't get anywhere until I can actually identify the urushi, if thats what it is, , and Nara expert seems like a good  plan.  For what it's worth, I re-measured the iron thickness again  and it does taper all the way from the edge of the seppa to the edge of the tsuba, not just a taper near the tsuba. Roughly goes from 2.2mm to 1.5-1.8mm on the edge. Very thin, but not flat plate.

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