This chapter is the continued part of 5 |Heian Period: Swords5 |Heian Period Swords. Please read chapter 5 before reading this section. More sword terminologies will be used in the coming chapters. They were explained between chapters 1 to 31. For unfamiliar sword terminology, please read chapter 1 to 31.
The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this sect
There are several active schools of swordsmith during the Heian period. We use the word, Den for school. They are Yamashiro Den (山城伝), Yamato Den (大和伝), Bizen Den ( 備前伝 ). Also, the following areas are other groups during the Heian period: Hoki-no-kuni (伯耆の国), and Oo-U (奥羽).
Yamashiro Den (山城伝 )
During the Heian period, among Yamashiro Den swords, the most famous sword is Mikazuki Munechika (三日月宗近) by Sanjo Munechika (三条宗近). Mikazuki means crescent. Because the crescent shape uchinoke (collection of nie) pattern appears in the Hamon area, it was 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.
Mikaduki Munechika(三日月宗近) Tokyo National Museum (東京国立博物館蔵) “Token no mikata” by Yuichi Hiroi (“刀剣のみかた” 広井雄一)
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.
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-suji. Ji-hada is a small wood grain pattern.
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 Hon’ami 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 where the author describes. It was Nov. 22, 1970. It had a narrow body line, small kissaki (that is Ko-bizen Komaru), kamasu*2 (no fukura), and suguha and others. Kamasu is the condition where the fukura (arc) is much lesser than usual. Thinking back then, it is amazing we could see a famous sword like this one for our study materials.
Kantei-kai is the study meeting. Usually, several swords were displayed covering 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.
Dozen —-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.
Jidai Yoshi—-Each Kantei-kai has different grading systems. Some have Jidai Yoshi, which means the time or period is correct.
Hazure—– Wrong answer.
After all the answer sheet is handed in and the answer sheet is graded and returned, the judge reveals the correct answer and explains why.
*1 Dozen: Almost the same as the collect answer.
*2 Kamasu: The name of a fish. It has a narrow and pointed head.