18| Nanboku-Cho Period Sword (南北朝太刀)

 

                           The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

During the Nanboku-Cho period, Samurais demanded a large, elaborate, and impressive yet practical sword.  The Soshu Den style sword in Nanboku-cho time was just that.  This type was the most popular style then.  The Nanboku-cho period was the height of the Soshu Den.  Many swordsmiths moved from other provinces to the Kamakura area and forged the Soshu Den style swords.   Other schools and regions outside the Kamakura area also made the Soshu Den style swords in their own places.

19 Nanboku-cho Sword style

Sugata (姿: Shape)———-The original length of swords was 3, 4, or 5 feet long, but shortened to approximately two and a half feet long at a later time.  A greatly shortened blade is called O-suriage

The Nanboku-cho style sword has a shallow Kyo-zori (also called Torii-zori).  Refer to Chapter 5 |Heian Period: Swords.  The highest curvature comes around the middle of the body.  A wide-body, high Shinogi, narrow Shinogi-Ji (Refer to Chapter 3 Names of Parts).  The thin Kasane (thickness of the body) is the distinctive feature for the Nanboku-cho style.  High Gyo-no-mune or Shin-no-mune, sometimes Maru-Mune (round back).

19 Nanboku-cho 3 kinds Mune

Hi (: groove) and Horimono (彫刻: engraving) ——– Often, a single Hi (Bo-hi), double Hi, Suken (dagger), Bonji (Sanscrit), and/or Dragon are engraved on the Shinogi-Ji area.  Refer to Chapter 3 Names of Parts.

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji

Hamon (: Tempered line) —- The lower part of the body shows a narrow-tempered line; gradually, the tempered line becomes wider and showy.  Course Nie.  O-midare (large irregular wavy Hamon), Notare-midare (wavy, irregular Hamon), Gunome-midare (a mix of repeated half-circular and irregular Hamon).  Inazuma, Kinsuji (refer to Chapter 14 Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀))  sometimes appears.

19 Hamon Notare 319 Mamon choji gunome19 Hitatsura Hamon Hiromitsu

                                  *From Sano Museum Catalogue ( Permission granted).

Ji-hada (地肌: Area between Shino-gi and tempered line) ———————-Wood-grain pattern (Itame 板目). Sometimes Tobiyaki (patchy tempered spots) appears on Ji-hada. For Ji-hada, refer to Chapter 3 Names of parts.

Kissaki (切っ先) and Boshi (Tempered line at Kissaki area) ———- O-kissaki (long and large Kissaki). Fukura kareru (less arc).  Midare-komi (body and boshi have a similar tempered pattern), with Kaeri-fukashi (hamon deeply turns back), sometimes Hitatsura (entirely tempered).  See the above illustration.

Sword-smiths during Nanboku-Cho Period Soshu Den (school)

  • From Soshu—————————————————Hiromitsu (広光)  Akihiro (秋広)  
  • From Yamashiro ———————————————Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重) 
  • From Bizen (called So-den Bizen)——-Chogi (長儀 )group  Kanemitsu (兼光 ) group 
  • From Chikuzen ———————————————————-Samoji (左文字 ) group

19 Chogi photo from Sano book

The distinctive characteristics of the Nanboku-Cho period sword on the photo above      

  • The engraving trace of Suken on the Nakago indicates this area was once a part of the main body.
  • Large and Long kissak

11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

 
0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura
The circle indicates the time we discuss in this chapter.

Through the experience of the war of Jokyu-no-Ran (Chapter 10), the sword’s trend changed to a wider, sturdier, and grander style. The swords made around this time are called Ikubi-kissakiIkubi means a wild boar’s neck.  Ikubi-kissaki style swords have a stout kissaki that looks like the boar’s neck.

The middle Kamakura period was the golden age of Japanese sword making.  Many top swordsmiths created great swords during this time.  Experts agree that there is no mediocre sword among Ikubi-kissaki swords

IkubiKissakiSword  12 Ikubi Kissaki sword style

SUGATA (shape) —— Originally 3 feet or longer, therefore it is often shortened in later time.  Wide width, thick Kasane (thick body) with Hamaguri-ha (蛤刃).  Hamaguri-ha means the sword’s cross-section is shaped like a clam (see below).  The difference in the width between the Yokote line area and Machi is minimal.  Shinogi (鎬) is high, and shinogi width is narrow.  The cross-section of an Ikubi-kissaki sword is shown below. 

12 蛤刃と鎬

KISSAKI  —— Ikubi-kissakiIkubi means the neck of a wild boar.  It is thick, short, and stout looking.  Kissaki is short and wide at the Yokote line.  The illustration below shows an exaggerated image of an Ikubi-kissaki.

12 Ikubi Kissak drawing

Hamon (刃文) —— Kawazuko-choji (tadpole-head shape pattern). O-choji (large clove- shape pattern), Ko-choji (small clove-shape pattern), a mix of O-choji and Ko-choji, or Suguha-chojiSuguha-choji has a straight line mixed with Choji pattern (clove-shape).  

12 Hamon Kawazuko-choji                     O-choji                          Ko-choji                  Suguha-choji     (tadpole head)                   (large clove)                (small clove)      (straight and clove)

Boshi(鋩子) ———Yakizume: the hamon ends almost at the tip of kissaki, no turn back. Sansaku Boshi: created by Nagamitsu (長光), Kagemitsu (景光), and Sanenaga (真長), the hamon narrows at the yokote line.  See the below for Yakizume and Sansaku Boshi.                                     

12 Yakizume
                                                                

   Yakizume       11 Sansaku Boshi(三作Sansaku-boshi

 

Ikubi Kissaki Sword Smiths

Fukuoka Ichimonji Group (福岡一文字) —————Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗) Kamakura Ichimonji Group(鎌倉一文字) ———— Kamakura Ichimonji Sukezane (助真) Soshu Bizen Kunimune Group(相州備前国宗)——– Soshu Bizen Kunimune (国宗)Bizen Osafune Group(長船)——————Bizen Osafune Mitutada(長船光忠) Nagamitsu(長光)   Ugai Group————————————————————————- Ugai Unji (鵜飼雲次)

 

11 nagamitsu 1    11 Nagamitsu drawing  Osafune Nagamitsu(長船長光)    From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)         

img028   img027

Osafune Mitsutada(長船光忠)                          Osafune Mitsutada(長船光忠)                        *Were family sword This photo was taken by my father and writings on the white paper were written by him.