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Koshirae for Soshu Sadomune waksahshi!?

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Gentlemen...boys and girls!?;-)

 

I bought my first nihonto a couple of days ago!

 

Now I´m looking forward to studying and collecting more!

 

I have aspecially been thinking about getting koshirae for this blade!

 

Bus as I am a newbie-nihonto-student..and my knowledge is slim to none!

I was wondering what my older more experienced collegues might think!?

 

Will be much appreciated!

 

Thank You

 

Enjoy!

 

/Stefan

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Greetings to Stefan; Your 1st pictures showed the full blade and shirasaya as well as some paper documentation; which were to small to see. How about reposting them for all to see and review.The blade [ wakazashi ] looked nice for a 1st choice as a collectable piece, as I am parcel to the Soshu blades of the koto era, like yours. Also, I am a big proponent of fully mounted Japanese swords, and all of mine are in that condition.

 

As far as koshirae for the blade, that will take some effort for a fit. I myself, over the years, have done this; with a great deal of time, effort, and great satisfaction. First, you need to have a huge source and selection of the parts you are looking for, one of the big sword shows, is your best on hand solution. This is where the most collected source of authorities, will be in one place, at one time. The proper fit, as well as the correct balance, of appearance of the fittings, is going to be tough. I'll run thru the scenario, from my own experience.

 

The habaki is a real stinker to fit and match. Traditional color is gold tone for the koto era. To find an old saya to fit the habaki, the length & curve of the blade, compounds the issue. A tsuba to fit the size of the blade, as well as the correct spacing by the appropiate seppas, presents another challenge. Then, the matter of a tsuka that fits [ very tough ], and your need of balanced menuki, with fuchi & kashira; hopefully with the same theme, appearance, and subtle motif of Japanese ideology, would further extend your search. Then, if this is not difficult enough, you need this tsuka, wrapped by a skilled artist. Best bet, is to luck out, and find a fully mounted tsuka, of which there are quite a few, but to fit, is the issue.

 

But, remember, this undertaking is fun, meant to enjoy & learn, and is a valuable tool in the study of the nice sword blade that you have.

 

Gary Wortham

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I fear I am about to start another controversy but am very surpirsed and more than a little concerned at the suggestion one should look for old habaki, saya and Tsuka to fit a blade. habaki are made to fit a specific blade, as are the tsuka and saya. The chances of finding a random habaki that fits the blade acceptably and then holds it correctly in a saya also not made for the blade must be extremely small. More importantly the combination of ill fitting habaki and old saya offer huge opportunity to damage the blade.

I agree with Gary that finding fittings for a blade, i.e. Tsuba, menuki and fuchi kashira (and Kodzuka if you want) can be and is great fun and very rewarding but blade specific pieces such as tsuka, saya and habaki are better made new to fit the blade and by a qualified artisan.

Regards

Paul

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I hope Stephan is aware that his sword was not made by the Sadamune (one of the Masamune jittetsu)
Well, think positive: how do you know it isn't the first ever Zaimei Sadamune! :lol:

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As far as koshirae for the blade, that will take some effort for a fit. I myself, over the years, have done this; with a great deal of time, effort, and great satisfaction. First, you need to have a huge source and selection of the parts you are looking for, one of the big sword shows, is your best on hand solution. The proper fit, as well as the correct balance, of appearance of the fittings, is going to be tough. I'll run thru the scenario, from my own experience.

 

The habaki is a real stinker to fit and match. Traditional color is gold tone for the koto era. To find an old saya to fit the habaki, the length & curve of the blade, compounds the issue. A tsuba to fit the size of the blade, as well as the correct spacing by the appropiate seppas, presents another challenge. Then, the tsuka that fits, your need of balanced menuki, with fuchi & kashira; hopefully with the same theme, appearance, and subtle motif of Japanese ideology. Then, if this is not difficult enough, you need this tsuka, wrapped by a skilled artist. Best bet, is to luck out, and find a fully mounted tsuka, of which there are quite a few.

 

 

Without picking this apart bit by bit, let me say that I agree with Paul and this "seek and fit" assemblage method is not the best approach for fitting a sword to koshirae, nor is it something I want to see recommended on a wholesale basis to those newly introduced. I will place particular emphasis on the habaki however and add if one is not familiar with how a habaki *should* fit (which surprisingly few folks are) then the likelihood that the sword can be damaged is greatly magnified. Habaki are a "married" piece and are not interchangeable. While it is possible to find one that will be acceptable it is highly improbable, and a Soshu nakago such as Stefan's compounds the improbability even more so. All koshirae start and are completely dependant on the fit, shape, and style of the habaki. It serves the origin of protecting the sword as well as the foundation for the koshirae. Throwing a bunch of money and effort at having a koshirae, that in the end, will be obviously "thrown together" and ill fitting, isn't the best way to make an entrance into collecting.

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Paul is correct, you simply don't look for .....

 

Nevermind..while typing this I see Ted just wrote what I would have :D

 

Brian

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Stefan,

My recommendation would be to let the Sadamune alone; enjoy it for what it is and learn what you can from it. Rather than spend a bunch of money on having a saya and tsuka made and acquiring other parts and paying to have them put together, and ending up with something that, while nice to look at, has no historical relevance to the sword, and costs much more than you could ever hope to regain, I would expend $s and energy elsewhere. If you want koshirae, you could make your next purchase a sword with koshirae, or you could purchase an older set of koshirae without a blade, which often sell for less than would the constituent parts if separated and sold individually. Of all your options, what you're proposing probably makes the least economic sense.

At least that's my take. Grey

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Jacques wrote

one of the Masamune jittetsu

 

 

Guido wrote :

how do you know it isn't the first ever Zaimei Sadamune!

 

 

Jitetsu: 地鉄 Steel of the ji.

 

 

Sorry Guido , but you misread Jacques' post :rofl: :laughabove: :rotfl:

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As with all discussions, there is always what we can and can not do, according to ?? Completely agree, with the statement that the habaki is unique, and made for that exact sword, but does a 500+ year old sword, still have it's original habaki; I seriously think not. Except for the most fortunate, and well preserved. Especially with the polishes and fittings changes, it must have experienced over the years. Also, Stefan expressed a desire to have fittings for his new sword, his choice, and what better way to learn, than to begin the long and cautious adventure of education, on how complex and difficult a journey it will be, to search for a way to obtain these koshirae, but not unobtainable.

 

His expression and desire to want to study and collect nihonto, certainly would be advanced in the exchanges of dialog, with all whose path he would cross, in his search for such fittings. At all the shows over the years, the merging of the minds, furthers the knowledge of all. To stay with the current piece and study it, is a somewhat short sight, into any real depth of the sword, needing polish and all the surrounding info of such; since it was pointed out what smith it is not; where can he go with it in his study of this one example ??

 

And cost, sometimes we who have, forget the current cost to those who have yet to have. Polishes are brutally expensive, and the new habaki as well as new shirasaya; really rack up a bill. So, for Stefan, with his new treasure, his adventure should be of what he can do, would like to do, and we should help his enthusiasm, as a budding student. The status of his sword, is that as would be enhanced in his opinion, and the level of its current status, would be more than unlikely to be damaged, with the proper instruction by others, in his search for fittings. I agree, that a blade of high quality, high value, high level of polish, etc.; would be a different critter than the one he is thinking of working with, so; he asked for opinions, and he should get all the aspects of his request for options.

 

Gary Wortham

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Hello Stefan,

 

I have aspecially been thinking about getting koshirae for this blade!

 

Bus as I am a newbie-nihonto-student..and my knowledge is slim to none!

I was wondering what my older more experienced collegues might think!?

 

Seriously study tosogu and koshirae for the next 10 years, and then come back and ask the same question again.

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stefan,

the quest of learning continues endlessly in nihonto as our learned friends have said....enjoy your blade for what it is as and learn as much as you can from it then move on towards your next piece knowing that you will be better prepared....my first piece was an old kamakura wakizashi with thrown together koshirae which i thought was the dogs danglies, admittedly i only paid £100 for back in 1981 and sold a few years back in the same guise but 15x its price....so every cloud as a silver lining but knowledge is the deciding factor.

guildo and ted and many others on this forum have spent many years of hard work studying and learning to finally achieve where they are today and they advice is paramount,

so next time you are in a position to purchase another blade ask for their advice it costs nothing but the answer you will receive is invaluable.

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Gary,

for the point of clarity reagrding your last post. Of course you are right and it is doubful that an old sword has its original habaki and if it did it probably would no longer fit. The point is that when habaki require replacement they should be and were custom made, not found amongst someones stock of old fittings.

regards

Paul

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Hi Paul; For the sake of further education for myself, Stefan, and other; it's good to explore this concept in depth. Over the years of countless swords seen at the shows, in personal collections, as well even within my own; i see excellent fitting habaki, that are in no way the one made for the present blade it is in; when we are dealing with fully mounted pieces. The new, custom fitted, made to be married to the sword, are by far, close to 100%, are attached to the recently or previously polished blades in shirasaya, or of the high quality, where a high grade polish has been applied,and the fittings adjusted accordingly. Of course, exceptions certainly apply in this study.

 

It's not just the habaki fit, that is a difficult task to properly fit, but as many know; the tsuba as well. The opening for the blade seems to never be the exact snug fit of the original. Like mentioned before of the potential damage to the blade by an ill fitting habaki, a much heavier tsuba, carries with it the additional damage potential. And the saya, I see a ton of, ex. 19" blade with a 26" saya; now that's a mess, and I agree it could not be good for the blade as well as the overall appearance of the fittings package. Yet, if your totally fitted in old mounts sword, is missing a saya, it is a real freak of a piece to look at, when the 300+ year old fittings are matched with a new saya; even though I have seen great new saya, I would be proud to own.

 

As an example story, of a great fit of a saya, to a Higo mounted, Sukenaga katana, bought at a show, years ago, with an ill fitted, not matched, saya; as our discussion has traversed. Held it, as is, for years, was at a friend who rebuilt saya, made shirasaya, wrapped tsuka; you get the idea. Showed him the Sukenaga and mentioned the poorly fitted saya; and he disappeared into the other room; returned with a beautiful & original, Higo saya, with all it's metal fitings in perfect condition. As a fluke and gesture of chance, we tried the katana in the saya; and !!!! ; was a perfect, must I say, more than perfect, not just fit, but match for the overall koshirae. I most certainly bought it !!! As of today, it is one of my favorite set of fittings, and I have yet to see, a fully mounted Higo piece, at any show to best it. So, although not much of a chance to find matches, it can happen, and this is where the great stories and feeling of success evolve from.

 

Gary Wortham

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:dunno:

 

Brian

 

PS - No matter what arguments....you do not use an old habaki. You have a new one made. It is that simple.

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For the sake of further education for myself, Stefan, and other; it's good to explore this concept in depth.
It seems to me that Stefan (by now) and others are sufficiently educated and informed. I therefore suggest you take up exploring your concept / "merging of the minds" with like-minded people, i.e. outside NMB.

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Regarding the habaki: I suggest simply finding the habaki you like and then modifying the sword to fit the habaki. Here is an example of this technique that I recently used on a Yasuyoshi tanto.

 

 

Not! :badgrin:

 

 

Stefan-

All kidding aside, having one made is the way to go, but it could set you back $1K usd for a nice one. I will be asking Brian Tschernega to make on for me as soon as I get a little extra cash in hand. His work is excellent.

 

Jon

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Hello all, well last night I went to the premier of an Australian film I have been working on for the last 12 months, and after the film ended there was a Q&A from the producer, director and two main actors. One of the actors, Leon Birchill said "we are all on a journey, and we are all story tellers and teachers" .We need to choose our words carefully and only pass on that that is productive and constructive.

 

This ideal probably applies here I believe. The very serious here are traditionalists in that we do things a certain way as they are, as far as we know, are the best way to do things and when we are spending anywhere between 2 - 5K on a polish, $700 or so on a fine shirasaya and as much if not more on a habaki we are doing so because the swords we are restoring and maintaining are one of the finest art forms in the world.

 

As senior collectors and students, we can only pass on the best of our knowledge and advice. Whether people chose to follow that advice or not is a choice only they can make. I tend to find, more and more now that many new collectors focus on Ebay for purchases as apposed to buying quality stock from experiences sellers, as well as using forums to get their information instead of doing hard study from books, going to shows and putting in the hours to make their own conclusions, then share those with more experienced collectors to see if they are on the right track. The world is in many ways, becoming a fast paste disposable society and this is not I believe, the correct way to study art. The subject matter is too deep and complex to just go along scraping the surface.

 

I am one who agrees with the traditional method of restoration and would never ever put an old habaki on a sword it is not made for. I guess if the sword was in poor polish and not worth a great deal then what does it matter. But the initial question was in reference to a new collector, his new sword and his interest in putting together a koshirae to suit. I would like to address that a little now.

 

For me, and if this sword was a shoshin Sadamune I would have the sword polished, and a new habaki and shirasaya made, but before that, I would look for a very nice tsuba, and a set of Goto menuki, a nice fuchi and either a kozuka or kogai. All these would be Ko Goto, or Ko Kinko and from the Muromachi or Momoyama period. I would design a koshirae that suited the sword, it's age and the style that was in vogue at that time.I would then have a new tsuka made, look for some nice older same, have a new saya made and finished in a traditional style The koshirae would suit the sword, not my personal tastes. This is of course if the sword is genuine as a sword of the importance of Sadamune would deserve the very best of koshirae, and not a half cocked attempt at putting together bits and bobs that the owner happens to think looks cool.

 

If this swords is gimei and a later copy of average quality, then the whole idea is mute, the sword can be enjoyed for a bit, studied and moved on

for a better piece with more to study. If though it is a good sword and deserves a polish, and you want to add a koshirae, then that koshirae should add to the swords presence, not the owners. That may have been different back in the day when the samurai wore swords on a daily basis, but for me, in these modern times, the sword and koshirae should compliment each other, and not just be for the amusement of we, the temporary custodians.

 

Just a few thoughts after a long day, sorry for the waffle.

 

Rich

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Rich, since there's not a single signed Sadamune extant, the cost for removal of the obvious Gimei should be added to your calculation. But maybe that's what Stefan meant when he chose the title of "Sadomune" for this thread - I personally whould have chosen "Sado-maso-mune" ... :badgrin:

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guido and ted are getting like the evil twins lately lol.....they are ofcourse perfectly correct in what they say and you rich are correct also in fitting up a valuable sword.....unfortunately they are no short cuts in this game and always expensive......best only make one mistake and learn from it

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Good advice from Rich and others. I know it sometimes seems like we are "picking" on people when we correct them or try and push the traditional way of thinking, but to be taken seriously we have to follow the traditional and therefore correct way of doing things. This art has 1000 years behind it, so it is not like we are going to suddenly improve on the old ways of doing things.

There is never any malicious intent behind correcting people or challenging a point of view. Everything is for the good of the art. And honestly, in this case the art comes before the people. Surprisingly, forums like this are known far outside of our little circle, and I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that we do try and push the correct way of doing things, even if we are working with a challenging and limiting medium.

 

No need for people to get ruffled. In most cases, things work better and smoother by backing off a little bit and reading a bit more, without making absolute statements unless you can back them up 100%

 

Brian

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Hello All,

 

It is a good reminder that Japanese swords are first and foremost a weapon, even when never intending for them to be used. Any habaki new or old, custom made or retrofitted, when not made and fitted with absolute technical precision holds the potential for catastrophic failure to occur during a cutting event. Think of it this way, would you load a fully functioning gun or rifle with the incorrect shell casing even if never intending to fire the weapon?

 

Don't take my word for this, talk to some of the guys that cut with swords, they'll tell/show you that even new habaki made for the sword can fail, and most nihonto enthusiasts including some habaki makers themselves will not fully understand or agree on why. So, retrofit or new, beware!

 

Part of my problem with this whole business of trying to retrofit a less than perfect fitting habaki on a sword is, why do some collectors always work to lower the learning bar when so many of the samurai artisans dedicate/dedicated their life to raising it? Doesn't make sense.

 

On another note, keep in mind that a habaki made for the sword in shirasaya will not necessarily fit the koshirae and vice versa. It is important to understand what the correct steps in order should be when setting out on a task involving nihonto like putting together a set of koshirae for your sword.

 

 

 

For me, I would look for a very nice tsuba, and a set of Goto menuki, a nice fuchi and either a kozuka or kogai. All these would be Ko Goto, or Ko Kinko and from the Muromachi or Momoyama period. I would design a koshirae that suited the sword, it's age and the style that was in vogue at that time.I would then have a new tsuka made, look for some nice older same, have a new saya made and finished in a traditional style The koshirae would suit the sword, not my personal tastes.

 

:laughabove: sorry, Rich, but, this is kind of a, how would you say, sketchy rationalization imho, because in the end, like or not, it will be a 'Rich' (pun intended) set of koshirae (not there's anything wrong with that, should even paper), and not the real deal no matter how hard you try to keep ID out of it.

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My Naoe Shizu costs me in Kodogu about 3Keuros ... Nice stuff, Goto style menuki, F/K shishi with waterfall, futatokoromono (Kogai/Kozuka), then the making of the Koshirae (from scratch): 2keuros ====> 5K€

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