Original 18th Century Edo Period Japanese Handmade Wakizashi Short Sword with Lacquered Scabbard & Sageo
Original Item: Only One Available. Wakizashi (脇差 "side inserted / companion sword") is a general term for a sword with an edge between one and two shaku long (30 cm and 60 cm), predominantly made after 1600. Generally it is the short blade that accompanies a katana in the traditional samurai daisho pairing of swords, but may be worn by classes other than the samurai as a single blade, also worn edge up as the katana.
This example dates from the Edo period (江戸時代, Edo jidai) or Tokugawa period (徳川時代, Tokugawa jidai) of Japanese history. This is the period between 1603 and 1867, when Japan was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional daimyo. As the blade length is close to that of a Katana, and the blade is the "Shinogi-Zukuri" shape, some would term this an "O-Wakizashi".
This example has most likely been remounted several times, as was common for Japanese blades. This has made the file marks (yasurimi) on the tang faint, and given it a lovely patina. There is also some patinated oxidation, a sign of great age. As there is no maker name on the tang, this blade is considered 無名 (mumei), or "anonymous".
The blade has the following period correct features:
- Folded steel blade (fold lines are evident on the spine and body of the blade)
- hole (mekugi-ana) in the tang is punched and not drilled
- blade has a temper line (hamon), which is faint
- Blade wounds (kizu) or lamination artifacts are present on the blade. Both ware (lamination lines) and fukure (carbon pits) are visible.
- Blade has a bo'hi fuller, which is properly executed and helps to lighten the blade.
The blade of this example is 21 1/4 inches long, though unfortunately it has been a long time since the last time the blade was fully polished by a togishi, and it has oxidation and light staining over much of the service. This has made the temper line and other aspects of the blade hard to see. However it is still VERY sharp, and should be handled with care. Overall length of this wakizashi is 30 1/4 inches.
The tang (nakago) is of the futsu 普通 (regular) style, with a Haagari (asymmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri. The hamon (temper line) is still faintly visible in the light, and is of the SUGUHA (straight) type. We can still see some NIE crystals with a magnifier, but the rest of the aspects are too faint to see. The Yokote is no longer visible, nor is the shape of the boshi (tip temper line). There are blade wounds including ware (lamination splits) and fukure (Carbon pits). The sword has a copper Habaki (blade collar), which is typical of the Edo period.
The tsuba (cross guard) is made of well-patinated iron and is of the iconic MOKKO GATA (quince) shape, completely unadorned. There were two hitsu-ana cut outs on either side of the blade, but one side was filled in long ago. There are 3 copper SEPPA (spacers) around the tsuba, with a cardboard one added to keep the crossguard stable. The fuchi (collar) for the tsuka (handle) is also well-patinated iron, as is the KASHIRA (End Cap), and both show some lovely embossed designs. The stingray skin (SaMe) grip is unfortunately only retained near both ends of the handle, and it is wrapped with leather strapping, some of which has been repaired. There are two bronze menuki grip ornaments present, which look to be flowers, and they are glued to the wrapping.
The sword comes in a a well fitting textured black lacquer wooden scabbard (SAYA), which has two LARGE accessory slots on the sides. These would usually be for a KOGATANA knife or something similar, but these are quite a bit wider than usually seen, so they may have been for more substantial knives. The scabbard is in very good condition, with very little missing finish, and just a bit of splitting along the seams. It has a KURIKATA (knob) with a SHITODOME ornamental fitting inside, and it also has a sageo sword cord threaded through it. The mouth of the scabbard is fit with brass, however the SEMEGANE scabbard ring and large KOJIRI scabbard drag are of iron. There is also some lovely embossed designs on the drag fitting, which still have some GILT highlighting. Really an interesting scabbard!
A very nice Edo Period O-wakizashi, complete with some great fittings and ready to display!
Blade Length: 21 1/4"
Blade Shape: Shinogi-Zukuri with Bo'hi Fuller
Overall length: 30 1/4“
Scabbard Length: 21"
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 Japanese blade (日本刀 - Nihonto) 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 traditional Japanese blade and mountings have grown to be one of the most highly desired military antiques.
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