48|Part 2 of —– 13|Middle Kamakura Period Tanto 鎌倉中期短刀

This chapter is a continued part of Chapter 13 Tanto Middle Kamakura PeriodPlease read Chapter 13 before you read this section.  13|Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period

As Chapter 13 described, during middle Kamakura period, the shape of Tanto is called Takenoko zori . That means the tip of Tanto curves inward a little.  The drawing on Chapter 13 is a little exaggerated to show the curve.  Refer 13|Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period.   But the real Tanto is not so obvious. Maybe a few millimeters.   Usually, the length of the Tanto is approximately 12 inches or less.  10 inch Tanto is called Jyosun (定寸 ), longer than that is called Sun-nobi (寸延び ), and less than that is called Sun-zumari (寸詰り )

 

13 «Part 2» Tanto photo 

The above photo is Tanto by Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光). This style is called Kanmuri Otoshi.  That means the steel of Mune side (opposite side of cutting edge)  is shaved off. The length is approximately 10 inches.  Wood grain surface, Nie on Ji (refer to the name of the parts 4 |Names of Parts ).  Very finely forged.  Hamon is medium Suguha (straight).  Boshi is Ko-maru (small round).  Because of the Kanmuri-Otoshi style, it may not be easy to see the Takenoko-zori, the Mune side bend inward very slightly.  Among Tanto producer, Shintogo Kunimitsu is considered the top Tanto Maker.

 

13 «Part 2»Tanto photo with Saya

Above photo is the same Shintogo Kunimitsu with Saya.  Saya is a scabbard.  The top white handle part is made with Sharkskin.  Both photos are from Sano Museum Catalog.  Permission granted.

 

 

 

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

This chapter is the continued part of chapter 6.  Please read Chapter 6 before reading this section.  I will be using more technical terms which were explained between chapter 1 to 33.  For those who are not familiar with sword terms, any of part 2 should be read after chapter 1 to 33.

There are several schools (called Den 伝 ) of swordsmith during the Heian period.    I will start using the word Den instead of school.  They are Yamashiro Den (山城伝  ), Yamato Den (大和伝), Bizen Den ( 備前伝 )、Hoki-no-Kuni (伯耆 )、Buzen group (豊前 ), and Satsuma-no-Kuni (薩摩).

Yamashiro Den (山城伝 )

Among Yamashiro Den, the name of the sword, Mikazuki Munechika (三日月宗近  ) by Sanjo Munechika (三条宗近 ) is the most famous.  Mikaduki means crescent.  Because Mikaduki shape Uchinoke (collection of Nie) pattern appears on Hamon, it is named Mikazuki Munechika.  It has graceful shape, narrow body, Koshizori, Funbari, and small Kissaki.  It shows wood grain surface, Suguha with Nie mixed with small irregular, sometimes nijyu-ha (double libe二重刃 ) appears.  Sanjo Munechika lived 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.  This place is known for the place producing good steel.  The sword name, Doujigiri Yasutsuna  (童子切安綱 ) by Houki-no-Yasutsuna is the most famous one.

The characteristics of Yasutsuna’s sword———-It has a graceful shape with small Kissaki, narrow Hamon (often sugu-ha with ko-choji), course Nie on Hamon area, large wood grain mixed with masame on Ji-hada.   Hamon area often shows Inazuma and KinsujiBoshi 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.  Bizen is known for producing good steel.  Since Heian period until now, Bizen has been famous for the sword making tradition.  The sword making group in this area during the Heian period were called Ko-Bizen group.  The most famous sword smith 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———-graceful narrow-body, small Kissaki, narrow tempered line with ko-choji (small irregular) with Inazuma and Kin-suji.  Ji-Hada is 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 the one of the Kantei-To of the 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 about the smiths.  It was Nov. 22, 1970.  The deciding point was a narrow-body line, small Kissaki (that is Ko-Bizen Komaru), Kamasu and Suguha.  Kamasu is the condition where the fukura of Boshi is much less, less rounded.  When I think back, it is amazing we could see the sword like those for our study materials.  Today, I forget things happened a week ago, 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.  The attendees guess the name of the sword maker and hand in the answer sheet to the judge.  The 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, that is the subject sword made by the family, clan or within the group.  It means almost right.  Dozen is considered very good.

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, that means the time or period is correct.

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

 

 

 

 

 

31| Shin-Shin-To (Bakumatsu Period Sword 新々刀)1781-1867

30 Timeline (Bakumatsu)

The circle indicates the subject we are discussing in this chapter

The end of the Edo period is also called Bakumatsu (Later part of Bakufu).  Look at the circled area of the timeline above.  The swords made during this time is called Shin Shin-To.  They are also called Fukko-To style (復古, means revival). The shape of the sword, Hamon, Boshi, etc, is a copy of the Ko-to and Shin-to.  The characteristics of Shin Shin-To (新新刀) and well-known swordsmiths are those below.

The characteristic of Shin Shin-To

  • Katana, Wakizashi, Tanto, they all tend to be similar or copy of the previous shape
  • Many swords often have Hi or detailed engraving.
  • Unlike the previous time, one swordsmith makes several styles of swords, such as Soshu style, Bizen style, Shin-to style forging.
  • Often shows Katai-ha (refer 24Sengoku period sword.docx).

24 katai-ha                                                                         Katai-Ha

  • Weak (not tight) Nioi.
  • Yakidashi (2,3 inches above Machi) is often Suguha (straight line), even though the rest is irregular Hamon. Boshi is often irregular Midare.
  • Detailed engravings, but more realistic than the previous time.

Settsu (Osaka area)——–Gassan Sadayoshi (月山貞吉)  Gassan Sadakazu (月山貞一)  Gassan family are famous for detailed carvings.

Musashi no Kuni (Tokyo area)——Suishinshi Masahide ( 水心子正秀 ) Taikei Naotane (大慶直胤)    Minamoto Kiyomaro (源 清麿 )   Taikei Yoshitane ( 大慶義種) is famous for his carvings.

img075Minamoto Kiyomaro (源清麿)  Previously owned by my family

Tosa no Kuni (Shikoku area)———Sa Yukihide (左行秀)

Satsuma no Kuni (Kagoshima area)——-Oku Motohira (奥元平 )

Meiji Ishin-To

Right before the Meiji Revolution time, long swords (approximately 3 feet) with no curvature were made. Well- known ones are the one owned by Saigo Takamori or Sakamoto Ryoma (Both are famous historical characters during Meiji Restoration). They are also called Kinno -To.

28|Main 7 Areas Among Shin-To Sword (Part A)

S27 Shinto time line
The circle indicate the subject of this chapter

There are seven prosperous areas where a large number of swordsmiths were living and actively making swords.  Top three are Yamashiro (山城) at Kyoto, Settu ( 摂津 ) at Osaka, Musashi (武蔵  ) at Edo.  Then follows Hizen (肥前 ) at Saga, Satsuma (薩摩 ) at Kagoshima, Echizen ( 越前 ) at Fukui, and Kaga ( 加賀 ) at Kanazawa.  Each of these swordsmiths had its own local characteristics common among themselves.  To know each of that characteristic of this area is the easiest way to understand Shinto.  But keep in mind that each swordsmith had his own way of making the sword.  The following descriptions are only general guidelines.

Below is the map of Japan.  Since Hokkaido was a provincial area and swords were not made there during the Edo period, omitted from this map.

28 Map with number 7

 

 

1.  Yamashiro (山城 ) Kyoto

Yamashiro Shinto sword has a solid and strong look.  Hamon at the bottom part of the blade, above Machi (区) area shows Suguha (straight Hamon), this is called Kyo-Yakidashi (京焼出), that means to start out with straight Hamon.  Then abruptly changes to the design of O-Midare (大乱).  O-Midare changes to gentle look below Yokote line about 1 or 2 inches, then continues into Boshi with a wavy HamonBoshi design is Komaru-Boshi.  Ji-hada is somewhat rough (this depends on the swordsmith).  Masame-hada (straight grain pattern) may show on Shinogi-Ji (the area between back and ridgeline).  Among Yamashiro Shinto, there was a group called Mishina ( 三品) group.  They were Mino (美濃) related, therefore, Boshi often is Jizo boshi (地蔵鋩子), this is called Mishina Boshi ( 三品鋩子).  Therefore, they often made their Boshi, Jizo boshi (地蔵鋩子).

28 Kyo-Yakidashi, kyo, Mishina-Boshi

Well known swordsmiths in Yamashiro area are Umetada Myoju (梅忠明寿), Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広  ), Dewadaijyo Kunimichi ( 出羽大掾国路 )

img067

Iganokami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道) Previously Family owned

continue to part two next chapter.

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

Yamato province (Present Nara prefecture) is the area where sword making first started originally.  It is said that it was during the Nara period (710 to 704).  In early days, they forged swords with their primitive skills.  A large number of swordsmiths lived in the Yamato area at the beginning of the sword making but later time, they became less active.  Yamato Den style is somewhat similar to that of Yamashiro Den (School) which I described in the chapter of Late Heian to early Kamakura period.  At the end of the Kamakura period in the Yamato area, there were several powerful temples existed.  They 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)*.   Nanto Sohei and other Sohei (僧兵) of the other temples demanded more and more swords to arm themselves.  This high demand of the swords from Sohei revitalized the Yamato Den (School) and led to increase in the number of the swordsmith in Yamato.   As a result, Yamato School became active again.

*Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)———Since around the 11th century, Buddhist temples became powerful under the protection of JoKo (former Emperor).  Those temples had a large number of Sohei  (low-level monks who also acted as soldiers) under them.  In the case when power struggles between the temples occurred, Sohei went to fight 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 retained. 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. Nie base (沸). Chu-suguha-hotsure (frayed medium straight 中直刃ほつれ), Ko-choji-midare (small clove-like pattern and irregular mixture 子丁子乱), Ko-midare ( fine irregular子乱), Ko-gunome-komidare (small irregular continuous half circle 小五の目小乱).  The main characteristic of Yamato school sword is Masame (straight grain), therefore, the tempered line often shows double straight line called Nijyu-ha, Hakikake (brushed sand) and Uchinoke (Crescent-shape line).

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 design as shown below which 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

9| Middle Kamakura Period —Yamashiro School(鎌倉中期山城伝)

7-kamakura-period-timeline.jpg

                              The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section

Yamashiro school swords have the characteristics as below.

Sugata(shape)—–Generally the width of the blade is narrow, especially around yokote line.  The bottom of the blade has funbari (A-line shape or flares out like the lower part of Eiffel Tower).  Thick Kasane. The type of the curvature is kyo-zori (highest curvature comes around the middle of the sword) or Koshi-zori (lower curvature).  Small Kissaki with fukura (rounded).  Shinogi is high with Gyo-no-Mune (行の棟) or Sin-no-Mune ( 真の棟).

13 Mune drawing

 

9 鎌倉中期刀姿

Horimono(Engraving)—–The tip of a Hi (樋, groove) is the exact proper shape.  Sometimes you may see Bonj (Sanscrit) and suken (sword illustration).

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji

Nakago(中心)—–Long and thin with curvature

Hamon(刃文)—– Mostly suguha (straight line), double straight line, straight line with the irregular line.  Sometimes thin gold line shape like the lightning in the sky appears.  The temper line is Nie Base.  Nie and Nioi will be explained in the next chapter.

 

picture for 8
佐野美術館図録1 豊後国行平(Bungo-no-Kuni-Yukihira  Sano Museum Catalog) permission granted

 

Boshi(鋩子)—–   Small round and large round.

9 Fukura

Jitetu(地鉄)—–     Well forged fine surface.  Small burl pattern and wood grain pattern.  Lots of Ji-Nie(地沸) on the surface.

Names of the swordsmiths during the middle Kamakura period

Ayano-Koji group —— Ayano-Koji Sadatoshi (綾小路 定利 )

Awataguchi group —– Awataguchi kunituna (粟田口国綱)

Rai group —————-Rai kuniyuki (来国行) Rai Nijikunitoshi (来ニ字国俊)

Other provinces who made Yamashiro style at this time

Sagami-no-kuni-Yamanouchi-Kunituna (相模国山内国綱)

Bungo-no-kuni-Yukihira (豊後国行平)

Higo-no-Enjyu (肥後の延寿)

img009
佐野美術館図録1 来国俊 ( Sano Museum Catalogue Rai-Kunitoshi) permission granted 

6 |Heian Period Swords

 

6-heian-period-timeline.jpg 
                          The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

The Heian period is the time, the shape of the swords changed to the curved shape.  Until this time, swords were straight.

The study of swords begins from the Heian period.  The elegant and graceful taste of Fujiwara culture reflects on the swords that were made during the Heian period.  The preference of their lifestyle reflected vividly on the swords.  One of the active groups of swordsmiths in the Kyoto area was called Yamashiro school or Yamashiro DenDen means school.  Their style had a graceful shape.  During the Heian period, Yamashiro Den (school) represents the Heian period sword style.

 

6a Heian period sword style

 

General Heian period sword style

Shape———-Lengths of the swords are approximately 30 inches ± a couple of inches.  Elegant and graceful shape.  The width of the blade is narrow.  Small Kissaki(小切先), Kyo-zori (京反り) and deep curvature.  Kyo-zori means the highest curvature comes around the halfway of the blade.  The lower part of the sword has an A-line curve (flare out) that is called funbari (踏ん張り).  It flares out like the shape of the lower part of the Eiffel tower.

 

 

6b A line bottom

Hamon(刃文)———-Hamon means tempered line.  The Heian period tempered area is narrow,  and usually, suguha (直刃), means straight hamonNie (沸) base.  Nie is a tiny granule like a particle on the border of the tempered line.  Refer below.  If you look closely, fine sand-like particles are visible. 6 Straigh tempered line(Suguha)

10 Nie & Nioi

Jitetsu (地鉄) ——–fine wood-grained tone.  The location of Jitetsu is in 4 |Names of Parts

Nakago (中心)———- Nakago is a hilt area.  Sword makers inscribe his names here.  The shape of the Nakago during the Heian period is often Kijimomo shape(雉腿), which means pheasant thigh shape.

6 Kijimomo-nakago

Hi and engrave ———- Hi (樋) means an engraved straight line.  Hi and engraved design is rare in the Heian period.  It became more common later time.

Kissaki (切先)———– Ko-kissaki (small kissaki). Boshi (Hamon around kissaki) is usually with komaru (小丸) means small round with a little return.6c Boshi Hamon

Names of the Heian period swordsmiths

  • Yamashiro school——–  Sanjo Munechika(三条宗近) Sanjo Yoshiie(三条吉家)                                                Gojo Kanenaga(五条兼長) Gojo Kuninaga (五条国永)
  • Yamato school ——–Senju-in (千手院)
  • Bizen school ———– Bizen Tomonari(備前友成) Bizen Masatsune(備前正恒)                                                 Bizen Kanehira (備前包平)
  • Hoki (伯耆) ———–Yasutsuna (安綱) Sanemori (真守)
  • Buzen (豊前) ——— Cho-en (長円) Sinsoku (神息)
  • Satsuma (薩摩) ——-Naminohira (波平)