Original Japanese Edo Period Tanto Dagger in Shirasaya Resting Scabbard - Traditional Handmade Blade

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased at a recent military show, this is a very nice Japanese Tanto (短刀), which literally means short sword. These could be in any number of different shapes, depending on the requests of the person who ordered it. The blade length of a tanto is typically between 15 and 30 cm (5.9 to 11.8inches), or 1 Japanese shaku, an ancient measurement. The blade of this example is in the typical "Hira Zukuri" shape, which means it is a blade without a shinogi, or ridge typical of longer blades. It comes in a very nice Post-WWII shirasaya, or "Resting scabbard".

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. We estimate it was from the late 18th century portion.

The tang of the blade definitely shows some age, but does not look to have been refit many times. As it is unsigned, this blade is considered 無名 (mumei), or "anonymous". There is some paper with Japanese writing on it wrapped around the tang to it stays in the handle better.

The blade is old, we are told ancient, due to a few tell tale characteristics that are:

- The hole in the tang (meguki-ana) is punched, and not drilled.
- 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.
- Hada or Grain is visible throughout the blade surface.
- Ware Kizu (blade wounds) from lamination artifacts, only possible on handmade blades.

Offered in great condition, the blade of this example is in very good polish, and shows only minor oxidation staining and scuffing. The edge is still quite sharp, so care is needed, and there are no nicks or other damage we can see. Blade length is approximately 7 1/8" and overall length 11 3/8". It has a futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago with an Iriyamagata (asymmetrical pointed) nakago-jiri.

The blade has a vibrant visible hamon (temper line), which is a lovely GUNOME (zig zag) type. There are multiple lamination lines along the blade, and there are clear NIE crystals along the temper line, and the correct NIOI cloudiness. There are also some faint ASHI, lines of crystals going towards the edge. The blade shows MASAME (straight)) hada (grain) on the body, and it has a YAKIZUME (no turnback) BOSHI, or tip temper line. Really a nice blade here!

This blade is mounted in a "resting scabbard" or Shirasaya, which is intended for storing the blade when it is not in use. This definitely looks to be post WWII, so the blade was most likely added to this setting after being brought back from Japan. There is some light staining on the exterior, but no major damage. It has early plastic fittings at the ends of the tsuka and saya, which are ivory in color. The handle is quite tight on the tang, and may require a rubber mallet to remove. It still has the original mekugi (peg) installed.

A very nice Edo Period Tanto with a great blade set into a resting scabbard. Ready to add to your collection and display!!

Specifications (Tanto):
Blade Length: 7 1/8"
Blade Style: "Hira Zukuri" tanto
Overall length: 11 3/8“
Scabbard Length: 7 7/8"

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 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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