51| Part 2 of —– 16 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

This chapter is the continued part of chapter 16|The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活 .   Please read chapter 16 before reading this chapter.

51 Japan map Yamato

At the end of the Kamakura period, in the Yamato area, powerful temples expanded their territory.  They had the political and military power to control the area.  Especially a few powerful temples owned a large territory.   They were called Shoen (荘園).  The demand for the Sword increased by warrior monks called Sohei (僧兵).  That started the revival of Yamato school.  Some of the big temples had their own swordsmiths within their territory.  Todaiji-temple (東大寺) backed Tegai (手掻 ) group.  Senjuin (千手院 ) group lived near Senju-Do (千手堂 ) where Senju Kannon (千手観音 ) was enshrined.  The name of the Taima group came from Taima-Ji temple (当麻寺).  Shikkake group (尻懸 ) and Hosho group (保昌 ) as well.  Those five groups are called Yamato Goha  (Yamato five groups).

General Characteristic of Yamato Den

Yamato Den (大和伝) sword always shows Masame (柾目, straight grain like) on somewhere on Ji-Hada,  Jigane or Hamon.   Please refer to the 16 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 sword shows Masame somewhere.  Some sword shows Masame entirely or some shows a lesser amount.  Because of that, Hamon tends to show Sunagashi (brush stroke like) or a double line like Hamon called Nijyu-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. Shows Inazuma, Kinsuji, especially under Yokote line Inazuma appears.
  • Boshi —– Often Yakizume. Refer Yakizume on 16 Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)
  • Ji-Hada Ji-Tetsu —– Small wood grain and well knead surface.  At the top part of the sword, wood grain pattern becomes Masame.

 Shiikkake Group (尻懸  )

  • Shape —– Late Kamakura period shape. Refer 15 Late Kamakura Period Sword
  • Hamon —– Mainly Nie (we say Nie Honni). Medium suguha frayed, mixed with small irregular and Gunome (half circle).  Double lined, brush stroke like pattern.  Small Inazuma, Kinsuji
  • Boshi —– Yakizume, Hakikake (swept trace by broom) and Ko-maru ( small round)
  • Ji-Hada, Ji-Gane —– Small burl mixed with Masame.  Shikkake group sometimes shows Shikkake Hada.  That is,  Ha side shows  Masame and Mune side shows burl.

Tegai Group ( 手掻 )

  • Shape —– Early Kamakura 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 Ji-Gane —– Fine burl mixed with Masame.  

 

51 Kanenaga photo Yamato51 Kanenaga ilustration Yamato

Tegai Kanenaga of Yamato.  From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

The illustration shows Notare (wave-like Hamon) and Suguha Hotsure (frayed Suguha) and Kinnsuji.

Example of Kantei process how to figure out the maker of the sword using the above photo

  • To determine Jidai (time) by Sugata (shape) —-—-Heian (possible),  Early Kamakura (possible),   Middle Kamakura (possible),  Late Kamakura (possible),  Nanboku – Cho (unlikely),  Muromachi (possibly No),   Sengoku (possibly No),  Shinto ( possibly No),  Shinshin-To (No)
  • To judge from Hamon (actual view shows Masame)——-Yamashiro-Den (possible),  Yamato-Den (very possible),  Bizen-Den (unlikely possible),  Soshu-Den (unlikely possible),  Mino- Den (No)
  • Jihada (actual view shows Nie a lot) —–Yamashiro-Den (possible),  Yamato-Den (very possible),  Shoshu-Den (unlikely possible),  Bizen-Den (unlikely ),  Mino-Den (unlikely)

By looking at the bold letter above, analyzing the above information, you conclude and come up with the name of the swordsmith.  In reality, to Kantei, bring more checkpoints and come up the name.

 

16|The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

 

14 Late Kamakura Period timeline

The circle represents the time we are discussing in this section

It is said that the first sword making started from Yamato province (present Nara prefecture) during the Nara period (710 to 704).  In the early sword making days, their forging technique was primitive.  At that time a large number of swordsmiths lived in Yamato, yet as time passes, the sword making declined in this area.

At the end of the Kamakura period, several powerful temples had power struggles against each other in Yamato area.  Temples had a strong political power and military power to control a large territory called Shoen (荘園) with their large number of worrier monks called Sohei (僧兵).  The most powerful group were called Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)*.

The groups of Sohei demanded more swords to arm themselves.  The high demand of the swords from Sohei revitalized the Yamato Den (School) and led to increase the number of the swordsmiths in Yamato.   As a result, Yamato Denl became active again. Yamato Den style is somewhat similar to that of Yamashiro Den.  See chapter 6.

 

*Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)———Since around the 11th century, Buddhistic temples became powerful under the protection of JoKo (retired Emperor).  Those temples had a large number of Sohei (low-level monks who also acted as soldiers) under them.  When the power struggles between the temples occurred, Sohei fought as a soldier in the battlefields.  Nanto Sohei were monk soldiers of Kofuku-Ji temple (興福寺).  Several large temples like Todai-Ji (東大寺) temple and other temples controlled the Yamato area.

Shape (Sugata姿) —————-1. Graceful Yamashiro style. 2. Shinogi is high.  3. Mune is thin.  4. Some group of Yamato school has shallow Sori (curvature).

16 Yamato sword cross section

Hamon (Tempered line) ——-Narrow tempered line.  Mainly Nie (沸).  Chu-Suguha-Hotsure (medium straight with frayed look中直刃ほつれ), Ko-Choji-Midare (small clove-like pattern and irregular mixture 小丁子乱), Ko-Midare ( fine irregular小乱), Ko-gunome-komidare (small irregular continuous half circle 小五の目小乱).  The main characteristic of Yamato school is Masame (straight grain), therefore, the tempered line often shows double straight line called Nijyu-ha, Hakikake (brushed sand) and Uchinoke (Crescent-shape line).  See the illustration below.

16 Hamon Yamato

Boshi (鋩子)———-Inside the Boshi area, straight grain pattern also appears. Yakizume, Kaen(refer 13 Tanto Middle Kamakura period), O-maru, Ko-maru, Nie-kuzure (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period)

13 Hamon and Hi15 O-maru Ko-maru Niekuzure

 

Jihada or Jitetsu (the area between shinogi and hamon )——Mostly Masame hada (straight grain pattern 柾目肌). Fine ji-nie, Chikei, and Yubashiri shows (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period).

16 Masame Hada

Nakago (Hilt)——————Often shows the finishing file pattern as shown below.  This is called Higaki Yasuri (檜垣).

16 Higaki Yasuri

Names of the Yamato School Sword-smiths

Taema(当麻) Group————–Taema Kuniyuki(当麻国行) Taema Tomokiyo(当麻友清) Shikkake (尻懸) Group———————————————–Shikkake Norinaga (尻懸則長) Tegai (手掻) group —————–Tegai Kanenaga (手掻包永) Tegai Kanekiyo(手掻包清) Hoshou (保昌) group——–Hosho Sadayoshi ( 保昌貞吉) Hosho Sadamune (保昌貞宗)

16 Shaya Ensou

Yamato Senjuin Shaya Enso (大和千手院沙弥円宗) was once family sword