Original Japanese Edo Period Tanto Short Sword with Kogatana Knife, Lacquered Scabbard & Sageo Cord - 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 as a complete set with lacquered decorative scabbard, sageo sword hanger cord, and Kogatana, which fits into a slot in the 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".

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 excellent polish, and shows only very tiny traces of oxidation 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 10 7/8" and overall length 17 3/4". It has a futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago with Naagari (asymmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri

The blade has a vibrant visible hamon (temper line), which is a lovely NOTARE (wave or swell) type. There are multiple lamination lines along the blade, and there are clear NIE crystals along the temper line, and the correct NIOI cloudiness. The blade shows MOKUME (wood burl) hada (grain) on the body, and it has a OOMARU (large turnback) boshi, which goes about an inch down the spine of the blade. Really a great blade here!

The Tsuka (handle) has a minimal brass oval combination tsuba (cross guard) and fuchi (grip collar), with a nice brass Kashira (End Cap). It is held on with one wooden securing peg, which is a most likely replacement. Very good stingray Sa-Me Skin (grip), which is wrapped with leather binding. The habaki (blade collar) is multi-piece brass, typical for blades from the Edo period. The handle is a bit loose on the blade, and could probably use some shimming.

The Scabbard (saya) is in very good condition, covered with a lovely black and brown lacquer, which gives the appearance of wood grain. It must have taken a significant amount of time to get this effect right. There is a black resin fitting around the mouth of the scabbard, while the bottom fitting has unfortunately fallen off. The Kurikata (scabbard knob) is still present, and has a very nice shitodome fitting inside. The accessory slot for the kotagana is in great shape and fits it well. Wrapped around the scabbard and through the kurikata is a very nice black and gold SAGEO cord, used to attach the tanto around the clothing.

The Kogatana accessory knife is in good condition, and the blade on this example is signed as well! Unfortunately it is somewhat faded and in Japanese "cursive" script, so we are not able to read it. There is a bit of staining, but nothing major. The Kozuka (grip) can be removed to look at the tang, and is in good condition. The design motif on the handle shows three running horses.

A very nice Tanto & Kogatana set, ready to add to your Japanese collection!

Specifications (Tanto):
Blade Length: 10 7/8"
Blade Style: "Hira Zukuri" tanto
Overall length: 17 3/4“
Scabbard Length: 16 1/4"

Specifications (Kogatana):
Blade Length: 4 3/8"
Overall Length: 8 1/8"

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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