Original Japanese Edo Period Tanto Short Sword with Traditional Handmade Blade & Lacquered Scabbard

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 11.8 inches), 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, and a very nice ornate handle (tsuka).

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 very good condition, the blade of this example is in very nice, though there is some oxidation and scuffing. However, the temper line and other aspects are still easily visible. 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 8" and overall length 12 7/8". It has a futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago with an Iriyamagata (asymmetrical pointed) nakago-jiri (tang tip). It also features a small BO'HI (fuller), which extends onto the tang.

The blade has a vibrant visible hamon (temper line), which is a very interesting MIDARE (irregular) with some TOGARI (pointed) and CHOJI (clover tree flower) aspects. 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 ITAME (wood grain) hada (grain) on the body, and there are also blade wounds including WARE (lamination lines) and FUKURE (carbon pits), only possible on traditionally made blades. The area near the tip has the polish worn, so we cannot see the shape of the BOSHI (tip temper line). Really an interesting blade here!

It is fitted with a lovely decorated copper TSUBA (cross guard), which has some brass ornaments on it, and has a HITSU-ANA accessory slot molded into one side. It is surrounded by two seppa, and there is a nice plated copper HABAKI around the blade. The TSUKA (handle) has a nice blacked brass FUCHI (grip collar) with some fantastic gilt decorations on it. It is wrapped with a very nice stingray Sa-Me Skin grip, which is covered with a nice deep navy blue ITO (cloth binding). This holds the two MENUKI (grip ornaments) in place, which look to be bronze dragons. The KASHIRA (end cap) is black lacquered brass, and is properly secured with the wrapping. It is held on with one wooden securing peg, which is a most likely replacement.

The Scabbard (saya) is in very good condition, covered with a lovely textured black lacquer overall, except on the very ends. The Kurikata (scabbard knob) is still present, and has a very nice shitodome fitting inside. There is an accessory slot for a kogatana knife, which matches the cut outs in the cross guard and spacers.

A very nice edo period tanto with a great handmade blade, ready to add to your Japanese collection!

Specifications (Tanto):
Blade Length: 8"
Blade Style: "Hira Zukuri" tanto
Overall length: 12 7/8“
Scabbard Length: 10 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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