Original 17th Century Japanese Katana Samurai Sword with Ancient Handmade Engraved Blade
Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased directly from a private collection, this is a wonderful condition Japanese Katana, complete with some very nice Koshirae (fittings). It has a very attractive blade with a nice polish, and it has a very nice Horimono (engraving), showing a dragon wrapped around a sword. The blade is also quite lightweight, much more typical of more peaceful times. During wartime, the heavier the blade the better for the most part.
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.
- Tang is shows oxidation and great age. It does not appear to be signed, which is called "mumei", or nameless. Many highly sought after Japanese swords are unsigned. The collector we purchased it from estimated it was probably from the 17th century.
- 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.
- Vibrant visible temper line ("hamon") with nie and nioi crystralization present along the temper line.
Offered in very good condition with a clear temper line, it is still very sharp. Overall length is 33 1/2 inches, with a 24 3/4 inch long blade. The sugata (blade shape) is the standard Shinogi Zukuri. The defining features of this shape are that it has a shinogi (blade flat) closer to the mune (back edge) than the ha (sharp edge), it has sori (curvature), and it has a yokote (dividing line marking the start of the tip or kissaki. The Blade MUNE (spine) is the IHORI (two sided) type.
The polish on the blade is nice, though there are a few areas where it is scuffed due to oxidation removal. This does not interfere with seeing the HAMON (wave) temper line, which is of the Notare (wave) type, with lots of internal activity. This is the hallmark of a well-forged blade. The blade does have a small chip on the tip, as well as one about 8 inches from the tip, as pictured. The blade is quite light weight, due to the relatively narrow profile, and because it has a full length fuller, called a BO-HI in the Japanese terminology. Also, the lovely Dragon HORIMONO (blade engraving) lightens it a bit as well. The dragon is a bit less clear on the JI (body) of the blade, most likely due to sharpening after the blade was engraved.
There are some blade wounds (kizu), which are caused by small carbon and air pockets in the steel from when it was originally folded. These are normal and confirm the authenticity, as without lamination, there is no possibility for these artifacts. The blade has a standard Futsu shaped NAKAGO (tang) with KURI-JIRI symmetrically rounded NAKAGO-JIRI (tip). Two mounting holes are present, though only one is in use. We have scanned and taken pictures of the blade with a phone to try to show these details, which unfortunately are washed out by the flash photography we normally use. Please inspect and zoom in to all the photos for proper viewing.
The tsuka (handle) features a nice round tsuba (cross guard) with menuki (grip decoration), and a nice Kashira (End Cap). All of these are decorated with lovely designs, and brass and copper inlay. The tsuba is iron, while the fuchi (grip collar) and end cap are blacked brass. The handle also has an excellent stingray (Sa-Me) grip with complete Ito (cloth binding).
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. It has a nice kurikata (knob) on the scabbard, complete with 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, especially with engravings, 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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