This chapter is a continued part of Chapter 15|The Revival of Yamato Den. Please read chapter 15 before reading this section.
The red 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, especially those with large territories, had political and military power to control the area at the end of the Kamakura period. 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 prominent 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 groups. 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 pattern) somewhere on Ji-hada, Jigane, or Hamon. Refer to 15| The Revival of Yamato Den（大和伝復活） for the general characteristic. Masame is sometimes mixed with Mokume (burl like pattern) or Itame (wood-grain like). Either way, Yamato Den shows Masame somewhere. Some swords show Masame on the entire body, and some show less. Because of Masame, the Hamon tends to show Sunagashi (brush stroke-like pattern) 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 and Kinsuji, especially Inazuma appear under the Yokote line.
- Boshi ————————- Often Yakizume. Refer Yakizume on 15| The Revival of Yamato Den（大和伝復活）
- Ji-hada ——————– Small wood grain pattern 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 Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀)
- Hamon ————————- Mainly Nie (we say Nie-hon’i). Medium frayed Suguha, mixed with small irregular and Gunome (half-circle like pattern). Double-lined, brush stroke-like Pattern may appear. Small Inazuma and Kinsuji may show.
- Boshi ———————— Yakizume, Hakikake (bloom trace like pattern) and Ko-maru (small round)
- Ji-hada ———- Small burl mixed with Masame. The Shikkake group sometimes shows Shikkake-hada, the Ha side shows Masame and the 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 and Kinsuji appears.
- 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) with kinsuji.
Below is my Yamato sword. I obtained this sword at an Annual San Francisco swords show a few years back.
Characteristics: Munei (shortened and no signature). Yamato Den, Tegai-ha (Yamato school Tegai group). Length is two shaku two sun eight &1/2 bu (27 1/4 inches): very small kissaki and funbari.
The entire view of the sword and Kantei-sho (NBTHK Certification). The ranking is “Tokubetsu Hozon Token”.
In Hamon, Sunagashi, Niju-ba shows very faintly. My photo of Boshi is not good, but it looks like Yakizume. Ji–hada is Itame with Masame, almost Nashiji-hada (possibly because of my eyes). Nie-hon’i. Please ignore the cloth pattern underneath reflecting on the blade.