This chapter is the continued part of Chapter 15|The Revival of Yamato Den. Please read chapter 15 before reading this section.
The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section
At the end of the Kamakura period, in the Yamato area, powerful temples expanded their territories. See the map below for the location of the Yamato area. Several big temples had a political and military power to control the area at the end of the Kamakura period, especially, the one with large territories. Those big territories were called Shoen (荘園). They employed a large number of monk soldiers called So-hei. The demand for swords was increased by the increased number of Sohei (僧兵). The increased demand revived the Yamato Den.
Some of the big temples had their own swordsmiths within their territory. Todaiji-temple (東大寺) backed Tegai (手掻) sword group. The Senjuin (千手院 ) sword group lived near Senju-Do (千手堂) where Senju Kannon (千手観音) was enshrined. The name of the sword group, Taima came from the Taima-Ji Temple (当麻寺). Shikkake group (尻懸) and Hosho group (保昌) were also Yamato Den sword group. Those five groups are called Yamato Goha (Yamato five group).
General Characteristic of Yamato Den
Yamato Den (大和伝) sword always shows Masame (柾目: straight grain-like) somewhere on Ji-hada, Jigane, and/or Hamon. Please refer to 15| The Revival of Yamato Den（大和伝復活）for its general characteristic. Masame is sometimes mixed with Mokume (burl like) or Itame (wood grain like). Either way, Yamato Den sword shows Masame somewhere. Some sword shows Masame entirely or some show a lesser amount. Because of Masame, the hamon tends to show Sunagashi (brush stroke-like) or a double line called Niju-ha.
Taima or Taema group (当麻)
Shape ——————— Middle Kamakura period shape and Ikubi-kissaki style Hamon —————-Mainly medium Suguha. Double Hamon. Suguha mixed with Choji. Often shows Inazuma, Kinsuji, especially under Yokote line Inazuma appeares. Boshi —– Often Yakizume. (Refer 15| The Revival of Yamato Den（大和伝復活） Ji-hada ———– Small wood grain and well-kneaded surface. At the top part of the sword, the wood grain pattern becomes Masame.
Shikkake Group (尻懸)
Shape ——————— Late Kamakura period shape. Refer 14| Late Kamakura Sword. Hamon–Mainly Nie (nie-hon’i). Medium frayed Suguha, mixed with small irregular and Gunome (half-circle). Double-lined, brush stroke-like pattern. Small Inazuma, Kinsuji. Boshi ——————Yakizume, Hakikake (swept trace like) and Ko-maru ( small round) Ji-hada —————— Small burl mixed with Masame. Shikkake group sometimes shows Shikkake-hada, which is, that the Ha side shows Masame and mune side shows burl.
Tegai Group ( 手掻 )
Shape ——— Early Kamakura shape and thick kasane (body). High Shinogi. Koshizori. Hamon ————————- Narrow tempered line with medium Suguha Hotsure (frayed Suguha). Mainly Nie. Double tempered line. Inazuma, Kinsuji shows. Boshi ———————————————–Yakizume (no turn back), Kaen (flame like). Ji-Hada ————————————————- Fine burl mixed with Masame.
Tegai Kanenaga of Yamato. From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted). The illustration (called Oshigata) shows Notare (wave-like hamon) and Suguha-hotsure (frayed Suguha) and Kinsuji.
Below is my Yamato sword. I obtained this sword at an annual San Francisco Swords Show a few years back.
Characteristic: Munei (cut short and no signature). Yamato Den, Tegai-ha (Yamato school Tegai group). Length is 2 shaku 2 sun 8 &1/2 bu (27&1/4 inches). Very small Kissaki and funnbari.
The entire view of the sword and Kantei-sho (NBTHK Certification). It is ranked as “Tokubetsu Hozon Token”.
On Hamon, Sunagashi, Niju-ba shows very faintly. I could not take a good photo of Boshi. But it is Yakizume like. Ji–Hada is Itame with faint Masame, almost Nashiji-Hada (possibly because of my eyes). Nie-hon’i.