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Mei Translation Help Please - Cutting Test?

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Hello Everyone....my first post here.

I inherited 2 wartime (or earlier?) swords a couple of years ago and just recently happen to hear about the inscriptions under the handles. One of the swords (the old rusty one) is pictured here with some interesting mei on it. The other sword (Perfect condition) I have yet to disassemble.

I literally just took the old wooden handle off this one about 3 days ago and I've gotten little sleep since that time from staring at resources on the internet trying to decipher at least some small part of the mei or origination of the sword.....not going well at this point and I have to get back to work.

I would very much appreciate any assistance from the board members on cracking the meaning of this mei.

I've found just a few of the kanji at all on the charts I've searched from the sites I've seen recommended.

It looks like the upper middle few characters start with the symbol for the number "9" and then go to a cutting test but I can't tell what type of cutting test.

Then I recognize the kanji for a sword on the left side about midway down but I'm far too much of a rookie to even begin to make sense of all this.....it's very interesting though!

I hope I do the pictures correctly....here they are:

Thanks, Richard

Mei2.jpg

Mei3.jpg

Mei1.jpg

SwordFullMeas.jpg

Swordbacktang.jpg

Swordspacers.jpg

Swordfull.jpg

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Hi Richard,

Too many Kanji for my feeble skill, but in case you're just getting started with Nihonto here's a link to a care and etiquette website:

http://www.nbthk-ab.org/Etiquette.htm

 

Don't try to fix this rusty sword. You can put a very light coat of machine oil on the non tang part of the blade but anything else you do to improve it is likely to cause damage.

Looks interesting. I'm anxious to read the translation.

Grey

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That is not a cutting test description but a tragic record of the war.

 

廿七八年日清之役於澎湖島土賊斬

九首一胴落

有馬嘉二郎 (unsure about the last two kanji)

野村高千穂艦長曰刀切味見事也

 

Nonliteral translation;

During the First Sino-Japanese War in 27th and 28th year (of Meiji), I killed local rebels, and cut off nine heads and one body at Penghu.

Arima Kajiro

The captain Nomura of Takachiho (Protected cruiser) said that its cutting quality was excellent.

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:(

A somber reminder that these weren't always merely art. Glad we live in a different time.

 

Brian

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Be tough to hold it knowing the history inscribed on the tang. That said I do not recall ever seeing anything like this before as there is no doubt it was carved well after manufacture.

 

Does anyone recall a lot of these types of inscriptions >?

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Well stated Brian....I was considering how to reply as my view of this sword was exactly that initially - a work of art crafted by a master of his trade (albeit rusty and time-worn). The translation set the reality.....this is a relic of War, crafted for a specific purpose, and documented directly on it are the "tragic" results. Holding the blade that physically administered those specific tragedies is now a very different emotional experience.

I appreciate the translation greatly as I believe I could have spent months trying to decipher it, to possibly no avail....Thank You Koichi.

There is a single "character" on the opposite side of the tang as seen in one of the pictures which appears as a deeply cut single line with a small "tail" off the end. It's too deep to just be a flaw or scratch.....any ideas?

I would still like to try and determine the age if at all possible. Obviously (if the mei is authentic), the blade is at least 1890s if it was newly made at the time of the indicated reference.

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Whatever we may feel about this and having seen many photographs of atrocities committed, this is an important historical sword. Should in my poor opinion be left unpolished and donated to some not so obvious museum.

 

The other side of this coin is that polished and offered with translation I have little doubt in a world where human skin lamp shades fetch big money, this could well buy a new car...... :cry:

Roy

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Personally, I would try to have some experts view it in hand. Polish or don't polish, as long as it's not being allowed to rust away to nothing.

 

Donating to a museum is a noble idea, but in my opinion, not always the best thing for the sword, as we've talked about before.

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Unlike the German /Jewish scenario the Sino /Japanese atrocity has allways taken a rather lower aspect, the sword in this case is less important that its inscription.

Although we on the NMB are true lovers of Japanese art and of course the Nihonto, if this is genuine and I can see no debate as to why it should not be,forget the polish etc and consider the importance of the mei.

We all love aspects of Japan,but to deny other aspects while constantly refering to German,Russian,African etc atrocity seems rather ...............................perhaps rusting away is not such a bad idea.

Roy

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IMHO its very worthy of full restoration, and if it last another two hundred years, just think what images it would bring to the owner, even thou gruesome it would speak what war does to the human soul.

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Objects like this MUST be preserved, so that we never forget the horror of war and the sacrifices made by the women and men involved, no matter which side. There were acts of heroism we rarely hear about on all sides in these conflicts and the sins of the few done in extraordinary circumstances should not colour the perception of any people in general. We just shouldn't glorify the horrific aspects, just understand how they could happen and resolve to stop it from happening again. John

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We should not let our emotions - no matter how humane and justified - to prevent us from preserving evidence of significant historical events. We must give the future generations the opportunity and right to learn and judge for themselves. How would we feel today if all the objects related to the Julius Caesar's Gallic wars would have knowingly been left to degrade due to moral opinions of a group of early historians and collectors?

 

Veli

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I would like to thank everyone for their replies....obviously I'm not the only one for whom this has stirred an emotional response. I haven't replied back until now as I'm still somewhat stunned as I went from knowing virtually nothing about it to all of this in just a few days. I'm still a little confused on how old the nihonto itself may be in light of the "ichi" character.

 

I certainly agree it should be 'preserved' as a historical record and I will give careful consideration as to just what that entails. My initial reaction is to preserve "as is" and keep from further degradation. As much as I would like to see it in it's artful form, I believe it's story is best portrayed in it's present state. To me, the time-worn condition best symbolizes how antiquated the times in which those actions took place have become....that the human race has indeed positively evolved somewhat and left such attrocities behind.

That's what I would 'like' to believe.

I can't help but think that bringing it back to a beautiful state of being would somehow "idolize" it; thus, twisting the message of the inscription for some.

On the other hand, the argument could be made that by restoring it to it's former beauty, it's ominous lethality would give more credibility to the inscription for others.

Maybe that's why my Grandfather brought back 2 in such opposing condition.........

 

Richard J

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The inscription is pretty irrelevant (there is a possibility its not even true and was just added to sell the sword to an officer in WW2). It looks like a good candidate for restoration and at the very least you should get the blade checked out.

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I would consider having it checked out by a reputable professional. I have no idea where to start and I don't feel comfortable shipping it outside the US. Any recommendations for the most knowledgeable professional I could find in the States?

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I would consider having it checked out by a reputable professional. I have no idea where to start and I don't feel comfortable shipping it outside the US. Any recommendations for the most knowledgeable professional I could find in the States?

 

Contact Chris Bowen who is a member of this forum. His website:

 

http://www.ejapaneseswords.com/

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