Original 15th Century Muromachi Period Japanese Yoroi-Doshi Armor-Piercing Tanto by Sadamitsu (1394-1457)
Original Item: One of a kind. Purchased recently directly from a private collector, this is an excellent example of a Japanese Armor-Piercing Tanto short sword, with a fully researched blade from the Muromachi period (室町時代 Muromachi jidai) of 1336 to 1573. This is part of the period of Japanese swordmaking known as Kotō (古刀"old swords"), the the type of swords that later smiths treated as the goal they needed to achieve. It comes complete with some lovely koshirae (fittings), though the saya (scabbard) is definitely much more recent than the tsuka (handle). This is one of the best and oldest we have ever had, with an great blade and high quality fittings. If you've been waiting for a great and interesting Kotō period Japanese short sword, this may be what you're looking for.
A tantō (短刀, "short sword") is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihonto) that were worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. Tanto could be any number of different shapes, depending on the requests of the person who ordered it, and the intended purpose. The "sugata" (blade shape) of this tanto is in the typical "Hira Zukuri" shape seen in most, which means it is a blade without a shinogi, or ridge typical of longer blades. However, this example is quite stout, being 8mm thick and 17mm wide at the 22cm blade's "Ha-Machi" (Edge Notch). This particular shape identifies it as a "Yoroi-Doshi", a type of tanto specifically made to pierce armor.
The blade is definitely hand-made and very old, which we can tell due to a few tell tale characteristics:
- The blade tang (nakago) is signed by the maker: Sadamitsu 定光, who was active (1394-1457?) in Buzen Province. He was a member of the Yamashiro Nobukuni school. Please See Markus Sesko's Index of Japanese Swordsmiths N-Z page 92. More information can be found at the Nihonto Club Index: Sadamitsu
- The holes in the tang (meguki-ana) are punched or chiseled, and not drilled. The two holes indicate the blade has been fitted multiple times.
- Folded steel blade - fold lines are evident on the body and spine of blade, as well as grain typical of folded steel.
- Visible temper line ("hamon") running full length of blade cutting edge. Steel crystals (nie and nioi) are visible. We have scanned the blade to show this, which can be seen in the pictures.
- Hada or Grain is visible throughout the blade surface.
- Blade lamination artifacts ("kizu") from carbon pockets introduced during the original folding process.
Offered in excellent condition with only some small scuffs, the blade is still sharp and does not have any visible nicks. Blade length is approximately 22cm / 8.7 inches, with an overall length of 34cm / 13.4 inches. This falls within the recognized length for tanto of 5.9–11.8 inches. Handmade blade, with punched mounting hole tang, lots of interesting blade texture. It has been coated with a thin layer of Choji oil.
The hamon (wave) temper line is Sugaha (straight) with an Omaru (large circle) boshi (blade end) temper line. The tang is the regular "futsu" style used for centuries before and after this blade was made.
The fittings of this blade (koshirae) are a mixture of old and new. Most likely this blade was recently polished, and the fittings were updated and replaced as needed. The saya (scabbard) was missing or unsalvageable, so it was replaced. At the same time, the tsuka (handle) had the ito (cloth binding) replaced. The tsuba (cross-guard) is iron, with lovely inlaid brass designs. The habaki (blade collar) is brass. The Tsuka (handle) has an excellent stingray (Sa-Me) grip, covered by the new wrapping, with very nice menuki (grip decorations). The Kashira (end cap) looks to be polished or enameled wood. There are two seppa (spacers) around the cross guard, and the wooden securing peg is still present, and protudes for easy removal. This is a tanto that was set up to display as part of a collection.
The black lacquered saya (scabbard) is in great condition, with a solid kurikata (knob) where a sageo (cord) could be attached to the scabbard. This would be used to attach the scabbard to the clothing for use.
Overall this is a great chance to pick up a wonderful and old Japanese Tanto. We very rarely get in examples this nice, and it is sure to fit in well with any Japanese sword collection.
It has been over one thousand years ago 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 blade is unique because it is forged from multiple pieces of folded steel stock. 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.
The Japanese sword has grown to be one of the most highly desired military antiques.
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