Original Japanese 17th Century Wakizashi Short Sword by SUKEHIRO in Marked Resting Scabbard with Sword Bag

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Wakizashi ( 脇差 ""side inserted / companion sword") is a general term for a sword 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 is in excellent condition, and comes in a marked wooden resting scabbard, and has a nice yellow sword bag and tie cord.

This wonderful example is finely signed on the tang with the name of the maker, though the original engraving is worn due to the age of the blade. However, the maker information has been written in Japanese on the outside of the resting scabbard, a common practice for old blades. The scabbard indicates that the blade was made by Master Swordsmith Tsuda Echizen Kami Sukehiro (津田 越前 守 祐廣) and is dated 1678. This should be Sukehiro II, the successor of the first, who passed away in 1682. As the mei is mostly unreadable, we unfortunately are not able to confirm this.

The blade measures 17.7" and is finely made with high polish, and a sharp nick-free edge. It has the following period correct features:
-Folded steel blade (fold lines are evident on the spine and body of the blade)
-Visible grain ("hada") in the steel of the blade
-Blade kizu (wounds) delaminations - these can only occur on laminated steel.
-Crisp visible temper line ("hamon") of the straight ("suguha") type
-Maker signed (Mei) on blade tang - somewhat worn due to age.

Offered in near excellent condition this wakizashi is still sharp and nick free. There is almost no corrosion on the blade, except inside some of the kizu (blade wounds) on the spine, which are inclusions where the steel did not completely laminate. This type of structure is common, and only seen in laminated hand-forged steel. The blade has one mounting hole in the "kengyo" (symmetrically pointed) tang. The overall tang shape is closest to futsu (standard) and funagata (boat shaped).

There is clear grain in the blade body (hada), and visible crystallization (Nie and Nioi) within the temper line. These are crystalline structures of martensite which are formed when the blade is quenched during the hardening process. When quenched, the blade would be coated with differing thicknesses of clay, which caused different steel structures to form in the body and edge. The body and spine would be flexible, while the edge would be hard.

The kissaki (tip) of the blade is excellent, and is on the longer side. It has a clear geometric yokote and boshi. The grain of the temper line can be seen in the kissaki, and it seems to be of the oomaru (turn around) type. Spine (mune) is the standard two sided ihori type.

This katana is still in its storage mount (shirasaya) or "resting scabbard, with a brass habaki (blade collar). A shirasaya (白鞘), literally "white scabbard", is a plain wooden Japanese blade mount consisting of a saya (scabbard) and tsuka (hilt), traditionally made of nurizaya wood and used when a blade was not expected to see use for some time and needed to be stored. They were externally featureless save for the needed mekugi-ana to secure the nakago (tang), though sometimes sayagaki (blade information) was also present, as on this example. The need for specialized storage is because prolonged koshirae mounting harmed the blade, owing to factors such as the lacquered wood retaining moisture and encouraging corrosion.

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 Samurai sword 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 Samurai sword has grown to be one of the most highly desired military antiques.

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