52|Part 2 of —–17|Late Kamakura Period Tanto (Early Soshu-Den Tanto)

Chapter 52 is the continued part of chapter 17 Late Kamakura period Tanto (17 | Late Kamakura period Tanto ——- Early Soshu-Den Tanto.  Please read Chapter 17 before chapter 52.

After studying the general common characteristics of the late Kamakura period Tanto style (that is early Soshu-Den Tanto) on chapter 17, what points do the next two swords fit in with the common characteristic of early Soshu-Den Tanto?

53 Masamune Tanto photo53 Masamune Tanto Oshigata

Goro Nyudo Masamune (相州伝五郎入道正宗) from Sano Museum Catalog (permission granted).

Masamune was born in Kamakura as a son of Tosaburo Yukimitu.  Masamune is a very well-known sword smith even among those who are not interested in a sword.  His tombstone is in Honkaku-Ji (本覚寺) temple near Kamakura train station, approximately 6 minutes’ walk from the station.

Characteristic—– Hira zukuri.  Very slightly sakizori (tip area curves slightly outward).  Bo-hi and Tsure-hi.  Boshi is Ko-maru.   Hamon is Notare (wavy).  From the illustration above, Sunagashi, Nijyuu-ba can be seen.  One of the important characteristics to connosseur sword is Nie or Nioi and Ji-hada.  It is not possible to see it from this photo, but Masamune does Nie and usually wood grain surface.  Nie is the Soshu-Den characteristic.  This type of Nakago is called Tanago-bara.   Masamune Tanto is often MuMei (no signature).

53 Kunisuke photo53 Kunisuke illustration

Higo Province Enju Kunisuke  From Sano Museum Catalogu (permission granted)

Enju  group lived at Kikuchi county in Higo Province (Kyushu).  The characteristic of Enju group is very similar to the one of Yamashiro style.  Because  Enju Kunimura who started the Enju group was said to be the son-in-law of Rai Kuniyuki of Yamashiro-Den. 

Characteristic—-Hamon is Hoso Suguha (straight temper line).  Boshi is Ko-maru.  Front engraving is Suken (left photo of the sword) and the engraving on the back is Gomabashi ( right photo of the sword).  Jitetsu or Jihada is tight Itame.  Nie

My Yamato Sword (大和所有刀剣)

Chapter 16|The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)and  Chapter 51| Part 2 of —– 16 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活) was the discussion about Yamato-Den.  It may be appropriate to show my Yamato sword here.  I obtained this sword at the yearly 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尺 (shaku) 2寸(sun) 8 1/2 分(bu) —27&1/4 inches.  Very small Kissaki and Funnbari.  This shape is typical of the end of Heian to early Kamakura period though nobody said so.

my-yamato-sword-e1555694162999.jpg

 

The Entire view of the sword and Kantei-Sho (NBTHK* Paper).  It is ranked “Tokubetsu Hozon Token”.  * Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyoukai (日本美術刀剣保存協会)

My Yamato sword 4

My Yamato sword.jpg 2

My Yamato sword 3

My Yamato sword 5

On Hamon, Sunagashi, Nijyu-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-Honni . 

 

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.

 

40|Part 2 of —– 6|Heian Period Sword (792-1192)

39 Heian Time line

                                  The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

This chapter is the continued part of chapter 6 Heian Period Sword.  Please read chapter 6 before reading this section.  More technical terms will be used which were explained between chapters 1 to 33.  For those who are not familiar with sword terminology, please read chapter 1 to 33 first, then read part 2.

There are several active schools (Den: 伝) of swordsmith during the Heian period.  The word Den will be used instead of school in the chapters follow.  They are Yamashiro Den (山城伝), Yamato Den (大和伝), Bizen Den ( 備前伝 ).  Also, the following areas are other groups outside of Dens above:  Hoki-no-Kuni (伯耆), and Ou-U Kaji (奥羽鍛冶 ).

 Yamashiro Den (山城伝 )

Among Yamashiro Den swords in the Heian period, the name of the sword, Mikazuki Munechika (三日月宗近) by Sanjo Munechika (三条宗近) is the most famous.  Mikazuki means crescent.  Because the crescent shape uchinoke (collection of nie) pattern appears in the Hamon area, it is named Mikazuki Munechika.  It has a graceful shape, narrow-body, Koshi-zori, Funbari, and small kissaki.  It shows wood grain surface, suguha with nie mixed with small irregular, sometimes nijyu-ha (double hamon: 二重刃) appears.  Sanjo Munechika lived at the Sanjo area in Kyoto.  His sword style was followed by his sons and grandsons, Sanjo Yoshiie (三条吉家), Gojo Kanenaga (五条兼永), Gojo Kuninaga (五条国永 ).  Gojo is the area in Kyoto.

 

6 photos Sanjo Munechika

三日月宗近         東京国立博物館蔵      “刀剣のみかた” 広井雄一      Mikaduki Munechika Tokyo National Museum  “Token no mikata” by Yuichi Hiroi

Houki -no-Kuni (伯耆の国)

Houki-no-Kuni is today’s Tottori prefecture.  It is known for the place to produce good iron.  The sword name, Doujigiri Yasutsuna  (童子切安綱) by Houki-no-Yasutsuna (伯耆の安綱) is the most famous one.

The characteristics of Yasutsuna’s sword———-It has a graceful shape with small kissaki, narrow hamon (often suguha with ko-choji), coarse nie on hamon area, large wood grain mixed with masame on ji-hada Hamon area often shows Inazuma and kinsuji.  Boshi area is yakizume, kaen with small turn back.

 

6 Sano Hoki Yasutuna

伯耆の安綱 (Hoki no Yasutsuna) 佐野美術館図録 (Sano Musem Catalogue)

Bizen Den (備前伝 )

Bizen is Okayama prefecture today.  It is known for the place to produce good iron.  Since the Heian period until now, Bizen has been famous for the sword-making tradition.  The sword-making group in this area during the Heian period is called the Ko-bizen group.  The most famous swordsmith in Ko-bizen group is Bizen Tomonari (備前友成) and Bizen Masatsune (備前正恒) and Bizen Kanehira (備前包平)

The characteristics of Ko-bizen group———-a graceful narrow body, small kissaki, narrow tempered line with Ko-choji (small irregular) with Inazuma and Kin-sujiJi-hada is a small wood grain pattern.

 

6 Sano Kanehira

Bizen Kanehira (備前包平) Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館図録)

I saw Ko-Bizen Sanetsune (真恒 ) at Mori Sensei’s house.  That was one of the Kantei-to of that day.  I received Douzen*ᴵ.  The book written by Honami Koson was used as our textbook.  Each time I saw a sword at Mori Sensei’s house, I put down the date on the swordsmith’s name in this book where the author explains on him.  It was Nov. 22, 1970.  The deciding point was a narrow body line, small kissaki (that is Ko-bizen Komaru), kamasu*² (no Fukura), and suguhaKamasu is the condition where the fukura is much less than usual.  When I think back, it is amazing we could see a famous sword like this one for our study materials.  Today, I forget things easily, but I can remember each sword I saw in those days.

Kantei-Kai

Kantei-kai is the study meeting.  Usually, several swords were displayed hiding the nakago part.  The attendees guess the name of the sword maker and hand in the answer sheet to the judge.  Below is the grade.

Atari—–If the answer is the right on the exact name, you get atari, that is the best answer.

Douzen*ᴵ—-The second one is dozen.  The subject sword was made by the family and (or) clan of the right Den.  It means almost the right answer.  Dozen is considered very good.  It indicates the student has a good knowledge of the particular group.

Kaido Yoshi—– This means the same line, but not within the family.

Hazure—– Wrong

Jidai Yoshi—-Each Kanntei-kai has different grading systems.  Some have Jidai Yoshi, which means the time or period is correct.

After all the answer is handed in and the answer sheet is returned to the attendee, the judge reveals the right answer and explains about each sword.

*2 Kamasu is the name of a fish.  It has narrow and pointed head.

 

 

 

 

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