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Tanegashima Made Swords - Gendaito


fatrat2
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Hi,

 

I am curious as to whether tanegashima made swords have tamahagane in them? I have tried looking up online and no sites talk about how tanegashima muskets were forged or made.

 

That brings me to another related question which makes me wonder why tanegashima musket steel was chosen, or was steel in such shortage that any scrap of iron could be used as sword making material during WWII? And thus, gendaitos made from rail nails, rail tracks, ball chains became available?

 

Any insight is greatly appreciated.

 

Chian

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Steel was in such shortage that the Japanese basically used whatever they could in order to supply every breathing soldier with their own sword.

 

"Gendaito" can only be so if it is traditionally made and constructed of tamahagane (Exclusively). If these swords you speak of were made of old muskets, than they were most likely half-breed swords, or showa-to. So answer being, if the sword was made from an old gun during ww2 specifically, than no, it most likely isn't made of tamahagane.

 

 

Josh

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...as to whether tanegashima made swords have tamahagane in them? ...

Please clarify, not sure I get what you mean.

 

Brian

 

What I mean is do swords made from these Japanese made musket barrels have Tamahagane in them?

 

If the Tanegashima musket barrels (not Tanegashima, the place) that were used to make hand forged WWII swords (not exactly Showa-to/ mass produced ones) due to shortage of iron/steel, are these swords considered nihonto or gendaito? Personally, I find them fascinating, but is their collectibillity negated due to the not so traditional way of material usage?

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Just an aside on this subject.

 

When I first started collecting I am sure I read somewhere that Nagasone Kotetsu had made Teppo using traditional sword methods for the steel and forge welding around a solid steel bar.

 

Another was a polisher way back polished two sides of his Teppo,produced a fine hada. The gun must still be around in the UK,would be very interested to see pic's if the owner is a member.

Roy

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The assumption underlying the original question is that there were other means of producing iron available in Japan throughout the edo period. We know that imported iron was available, Namban tetsu, I have also read reports of swords being made form foreign anchors and so forth. The Royal Armouries have an early European dirk that was put through yakiire and mounted as a tanto. We know that cast iron was in use for other purposes (No, don't go there again!) We also know that tamahagane is picked over by contemporary swordmiths to make sure that the pieces they use are suitable for their purposes.

 

If gun makers had access to a totally different source of iron for their work then the question stands. If the iron was produced in a tatara, as I suspect it was then reusing gun barrels is simply a way of accessing supplies of tamahagane. The fascinating blog posted elsewhere on the Board today shows a smith mixing tamahagane and the nails recovered from old buildings. He seems to suggest that he is doing this to create a specific result.

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Noda Hankei started as a gun smith, not Nagasone Kotetsu....

 

I do not know of any other method used in Japan prior to the late 19th century of making iron and steel other than the tatara method. That would mean that teppo, other than those made from imported steels (very rare and expensive and unlikely to be used in any quantity for guns) would have been made of steel from a tatara either directly or indirectly (recycled).

 

Swords made from old iron and steel, be it from teppo, nails, tsuba, etc., would be put through the oroshigane process to adjust the carbon content and purify the material, making it suitable for sword making.

 

Many swordsmiths I have talked to like to add oroshigane to the tamahagane they get from the NBTHK for several reasons: cheaper, more control over the steel composition and qualities of the final product, and it adds character.....

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have tried looking up online and no sites talk about how tanegashima muskets were forged or made.

 

The process of teppo-making is quite challenging... 8)...what makes you to think that swords were made from teppo barrels?

 

Eric

post-369-1419682895807_thumb.jpg

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I have seen WWII era blades inscribed that they were made with gun barrels and I have seen old barrels in the scrap pile at a smith's forge. Incidentally, I have also seen a WWII era blade that was made from old tsuba (by Yoshihara Kuniie)....

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Dear Chian.

 

I think the conclusion of the discussion is that gun barrels were made from tamahagane. The method of producing steel this way was not exclusive to nihonto so gun barrels were also made from tamahagane. A swordsmith using them to make a sword would be using tamahagane so, yes it would be classified as a gendaito, notwithstanding the comment that swords made form iron from other sources have been papered in Japan.

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So, Eric, I see you would still classifiy this as a Gendai, even when the presence of Tamahagane or the forging process is not conclusive?

 

As has been said, teppo barrels were made from tamahagane. Tanegashiwa‘s forests guaranteed there would never be a shortage of charcoal for the tatara furnaces. It is said, that this Tanegashiwa steel was of the highest quality. There is no doubt, the Gendaito by Higo Tadayasu is a real Nihonto.

 

Eric

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There have been many swords made of oroshigane that are considered gendai-to. The earliest swords were most likely made of steel made in the same way and we know they are considered nihonto as well....

 

Things in the world of Japanese swords are like all things in Japanese culture: flexible. In fact one gets the distinct impression that Japanese culture is based on ambiguity....The most commonly heard phrase in Japan is "case by case".....it would do all well who enter this world to keep that in mind....

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Hi Chris,

 

U are so right about this comment, '...case by case'. I have been dealing with the Japanese [ed. by JS] for many years and this really struck a chord. Blind me, and I thought it had to do with limited vocabulary. I learnt something again today, albeit not sword related.

 

Hi All,

 

Thank you all for the comments. Learnt a lot, nihonto related or not... Truly humbled by the abundance of knowledge that lies within this forum...

 

Chian

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