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Tameshigiri , two cutting tests


Tengu1957
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Kaga Tameshigiri tests cuts by individual  Samurai #2

Sue Koto sword with (2) Tameshigiri or cutting tests
69.8 cm
Ubu signed Kashu Iyetsugu late Muromachi period katana with mounts 1570's 

Cutting test I dated in 1650's by Miyai Rokubei - two bodies cut in half. Inlayed in Kinzogan mei or gold
Rokubei is a listed tester of Samurai status

Cutting test 2 dated in 1650's by Fujita Yoemon - a cutting test  riokaruma ,the most difficult cut through the hips. Yoemon is also a listed tester of Samurai status. Inlayed in Kinzogan mei or gold . Test cuts on Koto swords are less common
Kaga Samurai conducted their own test cuts similar to the Yamano family. The Samurai were the executioners and also did the test cutting , sometimes on live condemned criminals

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Tameshigiri is part of the history of the Japanese sword. Swords are designed to be used to cut , I don't know how you separate historically it's intended use as a weapon. Some of the best swordsmiths of the Edo period worked directly with the sword testers. If it offends you please don't look at it. 

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31 minutes ago, Baba Yaga said:

Something that shows how many bodies a sword can cut doesn't appeal to me,

It even appeals less on WW2 swords. I'm not sure why said swords are legal to sell. 

 


Why do you think they should not be legal to sell?  This whole hobby is based around fascination with implements exquisitely designed for the purpose of killing people…  The Japanese naturally pursued that aim with their typical single-minded rigor and cultural aesthetic but I believe it’s important for people to occasionally be reminded that these swords are not mere art objects, but also tools made for the purpose of rendering living, breathing human beings into inert lumps of dead meat.  The Japanese were holding head chopping contests with living victims well into the Second World War.  They certainly did/do not have a culture that centered individual dignity in the western sense and murdering random passers-by to test a new sword or fighting technique was such a common phenomenon that there is an actual term in Japanese “tsujigiri” for that practice. 

 

As much as I love Japanese art and aesthetics and am interested in Japanese culture I’ve heard stories of my friends grandparents who lived through the war in China, the Philippines and Malaysia and survived Japanese atrocities.  Own of my mother’s uncles was killed by the Japanese and I have no trouble understanding why other veterans in my family hated them until their dying day.  
 

I’m still perfectly capable of being impressed with the aesthetic of these tools. 

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So why pursue an interest in nihonto at all then?  I can’t say I find it more disturbing to know that the Japanese were killing people with these things in the 20th century than that they were killing people with them at any other time in history. That’s rather the point of swords when you get down to it…  Plenty of other equally aesthetically interesting objects to study that are not made for killing.

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Please don’t take my comments the wrong way I don’t mean to attack your views I’m genuinely interested in your moral composition and views.

 

I don’t really consider myself a humanist particularly and I’ve seen my share of killing in Afghanistan among other places so for my own part I can’t say I find the rather callous approach the Japanese took to testing their swords on live or dead human beings particularly more troubling than I do many other aspects of their culture (their treatment of women for one). 

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32 minutes ago, PNSSHOGUN said:

The simple fact is Japanese swords were made to kill. To deny such a fundamental aspect of them is completely failing to understand them at all. 

Man against man and sword against sword is interesting to me. Psychopathic indefensible murder objects aren't and are not in my home. 

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I've read that during koto times the blades were tested on convicted criminals to:

 

1st - punish them for their wrongdoings (thief gets their arm/s cut off or worse)

2nd - reassure that blade is strong and sharp enough to survive in battle

3rd - who knows maybe give the steel a taste of blood

 

In any event, at the time (and later) it was the weapon used for other reasons besides an elegant 'one on one' as what you value the most in your personal opinion. Also, most of the bodies cut were probably not even alive at the time of the test.

 

I personally find nothing psychopathic about any of it but no argument intended whatsoever. 

 

Angles..

 

J.

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8 minutes ago, Darkcon said:

I've read that during koto times the blades were tested on convicted criminals to:

 

1st - punish them for their wrongdoings (thief gets their arm/s cut off or worse)

2nd - reassure that blade is strong and sharp enough to survive in battle

3rd - who knows maybe give the steel a taste of blood

 

In any event, at the time (and later) it was the weapon used for other reasons besides an elegant 'one on one' as what you value the most in your personal opinion. Also, most of the bodies cut were probably not even alive at the time of the test.

 

I personally find nothing psychopathic about any of it but no argument intended whatsoever. 

 

Angles..

 

J.

"The Japanese were holding head chopping contests with living victims well into the Second World War."

I'm not judging, but if that's ok with you, who am I too change your mind. I'm only expressing my own feelings,

Kind of sounds a lot like Putin ways who everyone's been talking about. 

 

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Swords we're tested during the Edo period as a means of establishing the cutting ability of the sword. During the age of wars they didn't need this since the sword was tested/ used in actual battles. The practice became institutionalized and subsidized by the Bakufu ( shogunate government ). A rating system was developed for the cutting ability ( wazamono ) so swordsmiths could be judged. There were different punishments for crimes but death was one of them. They needed someone to be the executioners so the bodies became properties of the state and we're also used for testing as part of the system to judge the quality of the swords. I won't go into the whole thing but it served a purpose during times of peace to regulate the quality of swords being made. It wasn't just for the pleasure of killing people. From my perspective it's just part of the history of the sword and culture of the Samurai during a specific period. 

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Really interesting stuff and amazing sword. This is the second cutting test sword I've seen on NMB lately!

Did every cutting test get inscribed into the nagako? How likely is it that these tests were done, but not recorded into the sword? Or was this practice only done with swords of high quality? 

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Hummm...to put a stigma onto an inanimate object, just because an action is documented for that object is odd by itself, but then to wear blinders toward all other identical objects and pretend they did not deal the same type of action?

 

This is a seriously delusional approach to logic, facts and reason.

 

The reality is that many a Nihonto sword has been used for their intended purpose, whether it was in battle or in testing. Absolutely no way to know which is which on a un-marked blade, and no way to know if a sword is a "virgin" or not.

 

I have no interest in trying to change anybody's ideals or morals, nor do I wish to entertain any dialog about these.

 

In the end, I guess it all comes down to what ever lets you sleep at night.

 

Mark

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Living in Japan I have sometimes come across people with a strong aversion to or dislike of swords. Two or three have described a palpable ‘dark aura’ around a particular blade. No point telling their stories here, but just to say that I respect their feelings and stance. 
 

One antiques collector might avoid blades altogether. One might collect blades with no evidence of Tameshigiri or other actual use. Some people here won’t touch anything secondhand or live in a house that someone else has lived in. It’s up to the individual. 
 

The only thing I could not relate to in Baba Yaga’s comment was to make something with a certain inscription illegal. Illegal for sale where? In the US? Not at all sure how that would work. 
 

(A valid discussion but apologies to the thread starter for further thread drift.)

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1 hour ago, Baba Yaga said:

"The Japanese were holding head chopping contests with living victims well into the Second World War."

I'm not judging, but if that's ok with you, who am I too change your mind. I'm only expressing my own feelings,

Kind of sounds a lot like Putin ways who everyone's been talking about. 

 

 

Not my statement! Knowing what a sword is built for I'm 'ok' with it. I look at its aesthetic side 99% but I respect and I acknowledge its other sides also.

 

We are all expressing different perspectives so no judgments or unnecessary debates are intended. Oh and that name you mentioned.. .and whatever is happening in the region... is the last thing I want to discuss. Considerably off topic.

 

J.

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6 hours ago, GeorgeLuucas said:

Really interesting stuff and amazing sword. This is the second cutting test sword I've seen on NMB lately!

Did every cutting test get inscribed into the nagako? How likely is it that these tests were done, but not recorded into the sword? Or was this practice only done with swords of high quality? 

 

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It was very expensive to have the test done , about the same as purchasing a new sword from one of the better sword smiths of the period . Because of the cost they wanted the results recorded. There were only about 100 recorded sword tester during the Edo period. Some sword smiths worked directly with the testers so they would make the sword then send it directly to the tester for the cut. It was like one stop shopping then. There are also fake cutting tests added to swords during the Edo period because of potential profit in selling swords with a cutting test. If you submit a sword for shinsa there is a term they will use to call out if it's a false test. 

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 There are certainly cultural beliefs that swords and other inanimate objects have a spirit of their own. Many temples will accept swords believed to be evil for safe keeping. Please share information about this practice if your aware of any.

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PS

I have enjoyed your swords I believe most of this discussion should be moved elsewhere, its part of their history. One may not agree with it but it shouldn't be taken away from what it is.

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54 minutes ago, Stephen said:

I haven't looked yet to see if you jave posted the guns in appropriate form but if you have not please do I want to see that massive cannon.

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14 hours ago, Wolfmanreid said:

So why pursue an interest in nihonto at all then?  

 

Well for many-many reasons. We study smiths (20,000) and judge each sword accordingly. We grade such smiths for the quality and give points for such work. The Japanese government and other countries have very stringent laws concerning swords.  A question to my fellow Americans, would you want to own a gun that "murdered" people?  

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2 minutes ago, Baba Yaga said:

 

Well for many-many reasons. We study smiths (20,000) and judge each sword accordingly. We grade such smiths for the quality and give points for such work. The Japanese government and other countries have very stringent laws concerning swords.  A question to my fellow Americans, would you want to own a gun that "murdered" people?  

Depends on the gun. Was it Wyatt Earp's? Yes. Was it Charles Whitman's? No.

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Many years ago I had the pleasure of entertaining a very high ranking iaido sensei who had a considerable collection of swords himself and certainly knew far more than I did. After showing him my humble collection, I took him to see a good friend who had a collection with many fine papered blades. Sitting in his living room, my friend dissapeared and returned with half a dozen or so swords which were duely admired, in some cases out of politeness I suspect, but in most cases in admiration as well. My friend then brought out a second bundle and laid them on the floor. Despite being sat on the opposite side of the room, the iaido sensei stiffened and went totally silent. Eventually after much persuasion, he stated that he did not want to comment on one particular sword. What he had seen about that sword I still do not know. The sword in question is a katana in copper handachi mounts engraved with two kamon and with a kagamishi tsuba in a pale alloy - perfectly normal to my eyes. After being pressed even harder he declared that his reason for not commenting was so as not to insult our host. Intrigued, we pressed him further and he finally stated his reaction was because the sword had belonged to a thief / crook / criminal (exactly what type of villan I couldn't determine). Far from being insulted, our host was over the moon at the idea of owing a sword belonging to a member of the underworld. The sword in question now resides in the Royal Armouries collection in Leeds and so far as I know has caused no problems with the other swords stored in the same storage drawer.

Ian Bottomley

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10 hours ago, Bugyotsuji said:

Living in Japan I have sometimes come across people with a strong aversion to or dislike of swords. Two or three have described a palpable ‘dark aura’ around a particular blade. No point telling their stories here, but just to say that I respect their feelings and stance. 
 

One antiques collector might avoid blades altogether. One might collect blades with no evidence of Tameshigiri or other actual use. Some people here won’t touch anything secondhand or live in a house that someone else has lived in. It’s up to the individual. 
 

The only thing I could not relate to in Baba Yaga’s comment was to make something with a certain inscription illegal. Illegal for sale where? In the US? Not at all sure how that would work. 
 

(A valid discussion but apologies to the thread starter for further thread drift.)

"The only thing I could not relate to in Baba Yaga’s comment was to make something with a certain inscription illegal. Illegal for sale where? In the US? Not at all sure how that would work."

 

Look, that remark was tongue and cheek , Google it. The USA has made many objects from Asia illegal, starting with (mammals).  If our woke culture knew about these cuttings test swords, they would be illegal in a hot seconded.  Have you seen the power of our woke culture???

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5 hours ago, Tengu1957 said:

It was very expensive to have the test done , about the same as purchasing a new sword from one of the better sword smiths of the period . Because of the cost they wanted the results recorded. There were only about 100 recorded sword tester during the Edo period. Some sword smiths worked directly with the testers so they would make the sword then send it directly to the tester for the cut. It was like one stop shopping then. There are also fake cutting tests added to swords during the Edo period because of potential profit in selling swords with a cutting test. If you submit a sword for shinsa there is a term they will use to call out if it's a false test. 


Very interesting, and thank you for the info!

 

I’m still a very early learner, and with every page I turn, I’m enlightened to how little I know.
 

Cool collection and thanks! 

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4 hours ago, Stephen said:

PS

I have enjoyed your swords I believe most of this discussion should be moved elsewhere, its part of their history. One may not agree with it but it shouldn't be taken away from what it is.

 

 

Well said Stephen. I have a definite opinion on this subject, but this is not the place for this discussion. A member has made the effort and taken the time to post a very nice sword for us to appreciate, study, and learn from. I assume that's why we're here. At least I am.

So thank you Gary, for sharing this with us. I appreciate it.

 

    Steve

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