Original 15th - 16th Century Japanese Tachi Long Samurai Sword by NAGAMITSU with 29" Blade
Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased directly from a private collection, this is a very nice condition, as well as very OLD Japanese Tachi Long Sword. It comes complete with some very nice Koshirae (fittings). It has a long 29 inch blade which shows great age, and still has a very nice edge. The blade is also quite thin lightweight, as these were often worn on horseback, where an excessively heavy blade could be a hindrance.
The blade is genuine and ancient, as indicated by a few tell tale characteristics that include:
- Holes in the tang (mekugi-ana) are punched and not drilled. The two holes indicate that the blade has been refit at least once, probably shortening it slightly. One hole also looks to have been plugged and re punched.
- Tang is shows oxidation and great age, with a lot of scaling and rounding over. This is a blade that has been re-set many times. This type of aging is something that can never be replicated.
- Tang is signed by the maker 長光, read as NAGAMITSU, and it is signed on the opposite side from a Katana. This indicates that the sword was worn edge down, and is a Tachi.
- Folded steel blade (fold lines are evident on the body and spine of the blade)
- Clear grain ("hada") in the body of the blade, showing lamination The steel used to make Nihonto (Japanese Swords) is folded over and over before the pieces are laminated together to form the blade. This is what gives the steel "grain".
- The body of the blade shows blade KIZU, or wounds, which are carbon inclusions and other impurities that arise from the forging process. We see some carbon pits (fukure) and ware (lamination splits). Only hand forged laminated blades can have these.
Research into the smith Nagamitsu 長光 shows that there were many different smiths who used this name over the centuries. There was a dynasty of the Osafune school smiths in Bizen province in the 13th-15th centuries. The collector we purchased this from stated that it was most likely 15th-16th century, and a very old blade shape. Other experts consulted agreed that due to the shape, it is most likely this old as well.
Blades of this age are known as Kotō (古刀"old swords") and were made from around 900–1596. These are the swords that later swordmakers aspired to. Sadly much skill was lost during the Sengoku period (戦国時代 Sengoku Jidai, "Age of Warring States"; c. 1467 – c. 1603), which this sword was made towards the beginning of. By the end of this period, decades of producing high yield, low-quality blades, as well as economic/social hardship, had resulted in much skill being lost.
Offered with a nice patinated blade, it is still relatively sharp, though the edge does have roughness and wear. Overall length is 38 1/4 inches, with a 29 inch long blade edge (Nagasa). The Sugata (blade shape) looks possibly to be Shinogi Zukuri with very minimized boshi/kissaki, or possibly a Shobu Zukuri. The defining features of both of these shapes are that they have a shinogi (blade flat) closer to the mune (back edge) than the ha (sharp edge), and sori (curvature). The difference is that the Shinogo Zukuri shape has a yokote (dividing line marking the start of the tip or kissaki, while the Shobu Zukuri does not. Definitely worth a further look here. The degraded polish unfortunately makes it hard to determine. The Blade MUNE (spine) is the IHORI (two sided) type. Looking at the overall shape and the tang this blade was once slightly longer, and was cut down through the process of SURIAGE. It is however still within the range of length for a TACHI.
The blade, as stated before, has a polish that has degraded over the centuries, which makes the temper line and other features hard to see. The blade has a standard Futsu shaped NAKAGO (tang) with KIRI straight cut NAKAGO-JIRI (tang tip). This blade has been shortened through SURIAGE PROCESS, as that is the only time that a KIRI tip is seen. Two mounting holes are present, though only one is in use.
The TSUKA (handle) features a nice round TSUBA (cross guard) with some rice plant decorations. There are two gilt dragon MENUKI (grip decorations), and the FUCHI (grip collar) has the dragon motif as well. The KASHIRA (End Cap), which is also decorated with a dragon, and the handle also has an excellent stingray (Sa-Me) grip with complete Ito (cloth binding). There is some wear and age, so these KOSHIRAE (fittings) are definitely quite old, though most likely not nearly as old as the blade itself.
The Scabbard (SAYA) is wood, with a beautiful gloss black lacquer finish. It has a few small dents, but is highly attractive and definitely top quality. The SAYAJIRI (end cap) is very ornate. It has a nice KURIKATA (knob) on the scabbard, which also has a SHITO-DOME fitting. This is where a SAGEO (sword cord) would be inserted to secure the saya to the obi when in traditional Japanese dress.
We do not get many blades of this age in, and this would make a worthy addition to any sword collection.
It has been over one thousand years that the art of making swords appeared in Japan. The swordsmiths of the time may not have known it but they were creating a legendary sword. The Samurai sword has seen combat in many battlefields. From the early days of the Samurai warrior to the fierce battles in the South Pacific during WWII.
Each hand-made Samurai sword is unique because it is forged from multiple pieces of folded steel stock, which are then laminated together. A tremendous amount of work is dedicated to creating these pieces. They were an instrument of war as much as a beautiful artifact to adorn a room. They were also relatively expensive, and would be passed down in the family for generations, until the blade was too worn to be polished and put in a new setting.
The Samurai sword has grown to be one of the most highly desired military antiques.
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