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Tameshigiri , two cutting tests


Tengu1957
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@Baba Yaga

i take your point only in terms of ww2 swords, and the link with the atrocities. But your blaming the tool rather than the swordsman which I find absurd. 

 

These are first and foremost military objects and intended purposes were to kill an enemy , not art objects. I just watched a show on YouTube where people like pablo kuntz and nick ricupero were selling swords to possible buyers. And guess what sold the sword ? The history and story behind them. That's all the buyers wanted to know , who had it, did it kill. And the one that sold was the one that had been tested on bodies. 

 

Point is these buyers saw the "weapon" first  art object,  way after. 

I have a koto and shinto blade without knowing who had it and how many it killed. So why are you interested in collecting nihonto ? There's every chance you don't know what your blade has done. 

 

Regards

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I think the notion that Nihonto were "weapons first art object, way after" is a very Western reading of a Japanese art object, as where Japanese aesthetics would certainly not make any such clear distinction. Yes, the Japanese sword had a very specific utilitarian function as a weapon that was designed to take a human life, but it was also a social signaling object that indicated that the owner possessed not only the technological means to take a life, but also the social standing in which to do it (remember this a feudal society that made these objects, were basic civil rights for the average citizen were not even codified by and large until the Edo period). 

 

Furthermore, a tea bowl also has a utilitarian function of holding hot liquids to drink, that didn't stop the Japanese, and most societies within East Asia, from regarding the finest tea bowls, such as Song Dynasty Jian ware, as being viewed simultaneously as high-art. This same principle applies to Nihonto. For example, in the poem "The Song of Japanese Swords" Ouyang Xiu, a renowned poet of the Song Dynasty, he described Japanese swords as "It is a treasured sword with a scabbard made of fragrant wood covered with fish skin, decorated with brass and copper, encases the white sword and golden blade, and capable of exorcising evil spirits. It is imported at a great cost."

 

A mere weapon would never be described in such terms. This is obviously something revered, not only from a monetary perspective, but also from a religious one. In other words, it was considered an art-object, and a divine one at that. Part of its divinity is derived from the very fact that it can take a life, or alternatively, protect one. I find it almost impossible to believe that the Awataguchi (粟田口) smiths were trying to produce mere weapons. No, they were trying to produce a holy object fit for a living god in the persona of the emperor and his consorts at the imperial court, as were their counterparts producing imperial porcelain at Jingdezhen. While it is true that all swords are weapons, it not necessarily true that all swords were not also art. 

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Do you consider the fine beautiful lines of a Spitfire as art? Were these created as artistic flourishes rather than highly practical design choices to allow superior performance on the battlefield? Yes, fine Japanese swords from the Nanbokucho  period are considered art pieces now, but they were not created to be art pieces. They were created as serious weapons, and the attributes we so admire and appreciate today are the results of forging techniques being refined to produce better weapons, not whimsical study pieces. 

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The greatest issue I have with a modern society is its commitment to morals being a preset of unchangeable postulates. Philosophy worthy of Bronze Age fundamentalists but a wholesome rejection of historical realities.

My mother grew up in camps. Cannibalism was rampant. As were very late term abortions. Infanticide. Was this evil? I would not say. Very little in prisons or war qualifies as "good", whichever side one was part of.

The problem of modern morals is limited experience our journalists and professors have with life outside their career path. Air conditioning does mellow once's spirit. Makes life a bit more boring also.

 

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There is a great misunderstanding about art being usually regarded as useless objects. Utility does not define the opposite of beauty, especially considering the known phrase: beauty is truth and truth is beauty. Art is not necessarily a way to make objects more decorative. Sometimes it only means to give a functional object more individual traits without reducing its initial utility. 

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3 hours ago, PNSSHOGUN said:

Do you consider the fine beautiful lines of a Spitfire as art? Were these created as artistic flourishes rather than highly practical design choices to allow superior performance on the battlefield? Yes, fine Japanese swords from the Nanbokucho  period are considered art pieces now, but they were not created to be art pieces. They were created as serious weapons, and the attributes we so admire and appreciate today are the results of forging techniques being refined to produce better weapons, not whimsical study pieces. 

 

 

Your taking a 20th century example from a post-industrialized Western nation and trying to apply it to a pre-industrial 12th century society in East Asia. Personally, I find the Spitfire to be a very aesthetically pleasing piece of machinery, but I am not going to put it, or insert your favorite classic car here, on the same level as a Rembrandt.

 

Once again, these clear categorical boundaries between art and utilization did not exist in these societies when the Japanese sword was in use as both a weapon, and as, yes, a whimsical study piece ( or more accurately as a means of reaching a transcendent understanding of the self and ones place in the cosmos.) Which is why many swords over the centuries have been donated to religious sites within Japan. Contrary, nobody, as least as far I know, has donated a Spitfire to St Paul's Cathedral as an act of spiritual reverence. Take for example this quote about the influence of Confucian philosophy on aesthetics in East Asia:

 

"Confucian philosophy addresses the issue by first stressing the development that artists must undergo in acquiring their arts, emphasizing the development of artistic ability and ultimately the process of person‐making. Practicing an art is necessarily a moral affair as it entails transforming the self, finding a place within a tradition, and otherwise entering into significant relationships with others. Second, Confucianism also says something on the matter of the relationship between aesthetic and ethical value. It denies the moral autonomy of works of art and argues that art objects should serve the interests of the communities and states that they inhabit."

 

That last sentence "art objects should serve the interests of the communities and states that they inhabit" explains why in pre-modern Japan the sword could be viewed as both a weapon that serves the state, but also as symbol of ethical value personified through the finest craftsmanship/artistry. This is what 

Nitobe Inazō meant when he wrote the following: 

 

"The sword-smith was not a mere artisan but an inspired artist and his workshop a sanctuary. Daily, he commenced his craft with prayer and purification, or, as the phrase was, ‘he committed his soul and spirit into the forging and tempering of the steel"

 

Or D. T. Suzuki when he said:

 

"The sword is the soul of the samurai, we must remember all that goes with it – loyalty, self-sacrifice, reverence, benevolence,...” 

 

During the Kofun Period (250-538CE) Animism was introduced into Japanese society. Animism is the belief that everything in life contains or is connected to a divine spirits, which is why you even have myths of spirits helping sword-smiths create these objects, such as the story of Munechika who was helped by a fox spirit, forging the blade kogitsune-maru ("Little fox"). This is illustrated further by story in The Nihongi, which has a particularly fascinating tale about a short sword that has a mind of its own, and how its disappearance from its owner’s cabinet, Kiyo-hiko, caused a great surprise as the story relates bellow:

 

Last night the short sword came of its own accord to thy servant's house; but
this morning it has disappeared.The emperor & was struck with awe, and made
no further endeavor to find it. Afterwards the sword went of its own accord
to the Island of Awaji, where the people considered it a God and erected a
shrine for it, in which it is worshipped until this day.

 

It is even assumed thought that the linguistic origins for words that pertain to “swords,” in the Japanese
language, such as “tsurugi,” have their origins in the context of implements used in Shamanistic
rituals (Naumann, Nelly, and Roy Andrew Miller. Old Japanese Sword Names and Stories Relating to
Swords. Zeitschrift Der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 382-384).

 

So in conclusion, while we in the materialistic reductionist West can view these things as purely weapons or commodities, that is most certainly not how the people who owned, cared for, and passed them down to us today viewed them for most of Japanese history.  

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About the swords in this thread which upsets some folk.

 

Your making it sound like the blades mentioned did the killing, they were already dead.

 

No evidence to say otherwise.

 

How do you know your own blades didnt kill someone?, who knows.

 

Lots of things kill people, falling tiles, icy paths, etc. Once knew a guy that drove a car that had ran someone over and killed that person, didnt develop any mystic forces or anything.

 

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On 4/6/2022 at 3:54 AM, Tengu1957 said:

There were only about 100 recorded sword tester during the Edo period.

Good info!  I have never paid much attention to the kakihan (kao) of these cut-testers.  I have 4 on file now, and give them brief mention the Stamps Doc.  But after taking a look at the 4, they seem to have a particular "style" to their kao that sets them apart from swordsmith kao.  3 of the 4 have horizontal lines on top and bottom.  And even the stylized writing inside have similarities that are slightly different from smith kao.  I think I'll start a thread on these to see if I can get more examples.

 

I know there is a book out there on kakihan, as they are seen on other pieces, like tsuba.  If anyone recalls the name of it, please post.  I probably should look it up.

 

Rokukei                                       Hisahide                                 Narihisa

1069545782_Screenshot2022-04-08072915.jpg.5501e568521fa05c090257a32b4a1231.jpgCutterHisahide.thumb.jpg.26f4ec2e83289f9cd0b445a555ccae3b.jpg586062671_Screenshot2022-04-08074233.jpg.f3f487d6d93420b4aed098445742e515.jpg

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8 hours ago, Ronin 47 said:

 

 

Your taking a 20th century example from a post-industrialized Western nation and trying to apply it to a pre-industrial 12th century society in East Asia. Personally, I find the Spitfire to be a very aesthetically pleasing piece of machinery, but I am not going to put it, or insert your favorite classic car here, on the same level as a Rembrandt.

 

Once again, these clear categorical boundaries between art and utilization did not exist in these societies when the Japanese sword was in use as both a weapon, and as, yes, a whimsical study piece ( or more accurately as a means of reaching a transcendent understanding of the self and ones place in the cosmos.) Which is why many swords over the centuries have been donated to religious sites within Japan. Contrary, nobody, as least as far I know, has donated a Spitfire to St Paul's Cathedral as an act of spiritual reverence. Take for example this quote about the influence of Confucian philosophy on aesthetics in East Asia:

 

"Confucian philosophy addresses the issue by first stressing the development that artists must undergo in acquiring their arts, emphasizing the development of artistic ability and ultimately the process of person‐making. Practicing an art is necessarily a moral affair as it entails transforming the self, finding a place within a tradition, and otherwise entering into significant relationships with others. Second, Confucianism also says something on the matter of the relationship between aesthetic and ethical value. It denies the moral autonomy of works of art and argues that art objects should serve the interests of the communities and states that they inhabit."

 

That last sentence "art objects should serve the interests of the communities and states that they inhabit" explains why in pre-modern Japan the sword could be viewed as both a weapon that serves the state, but also as symbol of ethical value personified through the finest craftsmanship/artistry. This is what 

Nitobe Inazō meant when he wrote the following: 

 

"The sword-smith was not a mere artisan but an inspired artist and his workshop a sanctuary. Daily, he commenced his craft with prayer and purification, or, as the phrase was, ‘he committed his soul and spirit into the forging and tempering of the steel"

 

Or D. T. Suzuki when he said:

 

"The sword is the soul of the samurai, we must remember all that goes with it – loyalty, self-sacrifice, reverence, benevolence,...” 

 

During the Kofun Period (250-538CE) Animism was introduced into Japanese society. Animism is the belief that everything in life contains or is connected to a divine spirits, which is why you even have myths of spirits helping sword-smiths create these objects, such as the story of Munechika who was helped by a fox spirit, forging the blade kogitsune-maru ("Little fox"). This is illustrated further by story in The Nihongi, which has a particularly fascinating tale about a short sword that has a mind of its own, and how its disappearance from its owner’s cabinet, Kiyo-hiko, caused a great surprise as the story relates bellow:

 

Last night the short sword came of its own accord to thy servant's house; but
this morning it has disappeared.The emperor & was struck with awe, and made
no further endeavor to find it. Afterwards the sword went of its own accord
to the Island of Awaji, where the people considered it a God and erected a
shrine for it, in which it is worshipped until this day.

 

It is even assumed thought that the linguistic origins for words that pertain to “swords,” in the Japanese
language, such as “tsurugi,” have their origins in the context of implements used in Shamanistic
rituals (Naumann, Nelly, and Roy Andrew Miller. Old Japanese Sword Names and Stories Relating to
Swords. Zeitschrift Der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 382-384).

 

So in conclusion, while we in the materialistic reductionist West can view these things as purely weapons or commodities, that is most certainly not how the people who owned, cared for, and passed them down to us today viewed them for most of Japanese history.  

Some good points but the Japanese who used these swords saw them as all of the connotations mentioned ( religious, functional, spirit , beauty) embodied into a single piece of steel. 

But nevertheless these were objects made to kill in the most effective and quickest way. And that is what they are before being study or art objects.

 

There was once an amusing debate some years ago on a forum where someone mentioned that ancient samurai would have jumped at the chance to take a modern t10 steel blade over a traditionally made sword, due to its modern strength. 

For example during the sengoku period swords were mass produced to feed the war machine, and some of these swords lacked the artistic quality, but were regarded as highly functional ( such as certain  mino school  swords ). I find it rather amusing how these smiths were suddenly ranked lower by certain people because the swords weren't artistic enough. Most samurai of that time would never have given a toss mind my French, of what rank the Smith was in artistry.  It was how functional is the sword and can I  entrust my life with it. 

 

Even if we go back to the forging of the first known katanas and the period during and after the Mongol invasions , the transition in sword making was driven by functionality. 

Only us lucky modern folk now have the luxury to admire them as art pieces, and that includes the Japanese of the edo period. 

The only aspect where I'd agree that a few swords were created for artistic merit, were swords used as gifts. 

 

But I will never accept the idea that these swords were made to just please the eye. Or they were spiritual objects That was secondary.  First you have a fully functioning killing weapon. 

 

I deeply respect my Muromachi blades because they may have taken a life that I don't know about. But that only adds to the awe of the sword and its capability. And we should view how fragile life truly is.  This is where I beleive the spiritual aspect of the sword takes place. Of course if you beleive Japanese folklore,  then you have the right to beleive that the fox god helped munechika forge the first sword. Again that's a beleif. 

 

Regards 

 

 

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GIven the evolution of this topic and the interest shown... I have found Markus Sesko's book 'Tameshigiri - The History and Development of Japanese Sword Testing' a very interesting read so far.

 

The (reasonably priced) publication has been mentioned on other threads and there are probably a thousand books on the subject out there but...just for what its worth :)

Rob

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On 4/8/2022 at 2:28 AM, Alex A said:

About the swords in this thread which upsets some folk.

 

Your making it sound like the blades mentioned did the killing, they were already dead.

 

No evidence to say otherwise.

 

How do you know your own blades didnt kill someone?, who knows.

 

Lots of things kill people, falling tiles, icy paths, etc. Once knew a guy that drove a car that had ran someone over and killed that person, didnt develop any mystic forces or anything.

 

 

You live in a country that can't own and walk around with 6 inch folding blade. You live in a country and can't "buy firearms" per your high browparliament. Maybe... just maybe you're angry with not being a free person like us Americans. 

 

"How do you know your own blades didnt kill someone?, who knows."

 

You mean "murder" , or kill as in a Samurai to Samurai act of war / challenge? 

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On 4/7/2022 at 7:49 PM, Rivkin said:

The greatest issue I have with a modern society is its commitment to morals being a preset of unchangeable postulates. Philosophy worthy of Bronze Age fundamentalists but a wholesome rejection of historical realities.

My mother grew up in camps. Cannibalism was rampant. As were very late term abortions. Infanticide. Was this evil? I would not say. Very little in prisons or war qualifies as "good", whichever side one was part of.

The problem of modern morals is limited experience our journalists and professors have with life outside their career path. Air conditioning does mellow once's spirit. Makes life a bit more boring also.

 

 

Yes, Cannibalism is defined as evil. 

 

"Air conditioning does mellow one's spirit. Makes life a bit more boring also."

 

You understand, you're typing on a computer right??? :laughing: You have the right as an American to NOT use Air conditioning and walk to school barefoot in the snow.

 

I expected more out of you then this? 

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On 4/8/2022 at 12:17 AM, Ronin 47 said:

 

 

Your taking a 20th century example from a post-industrialized Western nation and trying to apply it to a pre-industrial 12th century society in East Asia. Personally, I find the Spitfire to be a very aesthetically pleasing piece of machinery, but I am not going to put it, or insert your favorite classic car here, on the same level as a Rembrandt.

 

Once again, these clear categorical boundaries between art and utilization did not exist in these societies when the Japanese sword was in use as both a weapon, and as, yes, a whimsical study piece ( or more accurately as a means of reaching a transcendent understanding of the self and ones place in the cosmos.) Which is why many swords over the centuries have been donated to religious sites within Japan. Contrary, nobody, as least as far I know, has donated a Spitfire to St Paul's Cathedral as an act of spiritual reverence. Take for example this quote about the influence of Confucian philosophy on aesthetics in East Asia:

 

"Confucian philosophy addresses the issue by first stressing the development that artists must undergo in acquiring their arts, emphasizing the development of artistic ability and ultimately the process of person‐making. Practicing an art is necessarily a moral affair as it entails transforming the self, finding a place within a tradition, and otherwise entering into significant relationships with others. Second, Confucianism also says something on the matter of the relationship between aesthetic and ethical value. It denies the moral autonomy of works of art and argues that art objects should serve the interests of the communities and states that they inhabit."

 

That last sentence "art objects should serve the interests of the communities and states that they inhabit" explains why in pre-modern Japan the sword could be viewed as both a weapon that serves the state, but also as symbol of ethical value personified through the finest craftsmanship/artistry. This is what 

Nitobe Inazō meant when he wrote the following: 

 

"The sword-smith was not a mere artisan but an inspired artist and his workshop a sanctuary. Daily, he commenced his craft with prayer and purification, or, as the phrase was, ‘he committed his soul and spirit into the forging and tempering of the steel"

 

Or D. T. Suzuki when he said:

 

"The sword is the soul of the samurai, we must remember all that goes with it – loyalty, self-sacrifice, reverence, benevolence,...” 

 

During the Kofun Period (250-538CE) Animism was introduced into Japanese society. Animism is the belief that everything in life contains or is connected to a divine spirits, which is why you even have myths of spirits helping sword-smiths create these objects, such as the story of Munechika who was helped by a fox spirit, forging the blade kogitsune-maru ("Little fox"). This is illustrated further by story in The Nihongi, which has a particularly fascinating tale about a short sword that has a mind of its own, and how its disappearance from its owner’s cabinet, Kiyo-hiko, caused a great surprise as the story relates bellow:

 

Last night the short sword came of its own accord to thy servant's house; but
this morning it has disappeared.The emperor & was struck with awe, and made
no further endeavor to find it. Afterwards the sword went of its own accord
to the Island of Awaji, where the people considered it a God and erected a
shrine for it, in which it is worshipped until this day.

 

It is even assumed thought that the linguistic origins for words that pertain to “swords,” in the Japanese
language, such as “tsurugi,” have their origins in the context of implements used in Shamanistic
rituals (Naumann, Nelly, and Roy Andrew Miller. Old Japanese Sword Names and Stories Relating to
Swords. Zeitschrift Der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 382-384).

 

So in conclusion, while we in the materialistic reductionist West can view these things as purely weapons or commodities, that is most certainly not how the people who owned, cared for, and passed them down to us today viewed them for most of Japanese history.  

 

You have to remember that a lot of this Mob mentality is coming from "Outside the USA". They live in world without the responsibility of edged weapons and guns like we are in the USA. They have no idea of responsibility, because there right have been taken away.  

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36 minutes ago, Baba Yaga said:

 

You live in a country that can't own and walk around with 6 inch folding blade. You live in a country and can't "buy firearms" per your high browparliament. Maybe... just maybe you're angry with not being a free person like us Americans. 

 

"How do you know your own blades didnt kill someone?, who knows."

 

You mean "murder" , or kill as in a Samurai to Samurai act of war / challenge? 

 

Il be honest, i have no interest in walking the streets with a six inch blade, its not 1840:laughing:

 

Odds of getting robbed or attacked here are quite low in comparison to some other countries, i feel like quite safe.

 

Anyways, lets keep this to the original subject and not get involved in troll like bull%$$

 

 

 

 

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20 minutes ago, Alex A said:

 

Il be honest, i have no interest in walking the streets with a six inch blade, its not 1840:laughing:

 

 

 

 

 

You're right it's not 1840, so why are we OK with applying murderous acts that occurred centuries before? That's an educated question, NOT a troll question?

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6 minutes ago, Baba Yaga said:

 

You're right it's not 1840, so why are we OK with applying murderous acts that occurred centuries before? That's an educated question, NOT a troll question?

 

Murder,? we are talking about crime and punishment back in Japans history.

 

Not getting further involved, everything that has needed to be said has been said.

 

I suggest you take Robs advice above and read that book

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Alex A said:

 

Murder,? we are talking about crime and punishment back in Japans history.

I suggest you take Robs advice above and read that book

 

 

 

 

 

 

I apply my own values to modern day rules, rights and times. A lot of my rights I have don't apply to you, or your country. Just because something was ok "murder" in past times, doesn't make "murder" Ok too ME in modern times. 

This isn't Trolling as you suggest, it's expressing how I feel and how you feel about what we consider "War Crime" today. I'm not in some time machine, I have modern day values.

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14 minutes ago, Alex A said:

Look Babz, been around forums long enough know when someone's looking for attention online 

 

Stop it, its pathetic.

 

 

Absolutely...lives for debate just like he did before. I see another time out coming.🙏

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On 4/6/2022 at 4:54 AM, Tengu1957 said:

If you submit a sword for shinsa there is a term they will use to call out if it's a false test. 

Interesting.  (I’ve wondered how shinsa panels dealt with questionable tameshi-mei on otherwise sho-shin blades.)

Regards, 

Richard

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1 hour ago, RichardP said:

Interesting.  (I’ve wondered how shinsa panels dealt with questionable tameshi-mei on otherwise sho-shin blades.)

Regards, 

Richard

"To me ga are" , this is the term used in the NBTHK papers if the mei on the sword is good but the cutting test is fake. 

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