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18th Century Samurai Katana Late Shinto Period Circa 1750 A very good and beautifully mounted sword. Higo iron mounts with pure gold decoration, Higo tsuba with gold, decorated with two figures, one with a yari polearm another with a basket, one standing one seated, both with silver faces and hands. Black kuro kanshitsu ishime nuri and koiguchi saya, that looks stunning. The culture of the samurai traditionally revolved around Bushido. "Bushido" means "Way of the Warrior." It was at the heart of the beliefs and conduct of the Samurai. The philosophy of Bushido is "freedom from fear." It meant that the Samurai transcended his fear of death. That gave him the peace and power to serve his master faithfully and loyally and die well if necessary. "Duty" is a primary philosophy of the Samurai. 39 inches long overall in saya, blade 27 inches tsuba to tip
A Superb Shinto Period Samurai Katana By Bizen Osafune Sukesada Crica 1650. This beautiful Katana is most intriguing in that it is not only signed by one of the great schools of samurai swordsmiths but also inscribed as to whom is was made for. We have sent a copy of the inscription to Japan for a translation as it is somewhat complex to translate. Fully matching suite of koshirae all decorated with the gold imperial chrysanthemum, including the superb tsuba. Superb habaki [blade collar with superb mirror shakudo patina with gold lines. Being descendant of the Ichimonji Line they were also known to have made some of the finest swords. This is where they really shine, swordsmiths such as Yozosaemon Sukesada were known to make masterpiece blades that outshone the vast majority of the time period. In fact Yozosaemon is considered one of the representative swordsmiths of the Era, going hand in hand with names like Muramasa of the Soshu/Sengo Tradition and Kanemoto of the Mino Tradition. Sukesada swords were also popular with those in high ranks and we see many tachi and longer katana being made, these were often of exceptional quality and were quite deserving of their Jchimonji lineage. Sukesada swords would spread throughout Japan, with their home forges being in Bizen province. This however ; would not last. The great flood of the Yoshii River around 1590 signalled a death toll to the Sukesada line. This flood hit Bizen province hard and wiped out nearly all of the Sukesada forges, leaving only several offshoots of the Sukesada family swordsmiths to carry out the tradition, such the Shinto period Yokoyama Sukesada family swords. The Sukesada tradition struggled to survive and eventually died out partway through the Shinto Era as it never really came close to reaching the Majesty and quality of its predecessor and mainline schools. The great flood essentially marked the end for one of the Koto Era’s greatest sword making traditions. The blade has a fabulous hamon double hamon, some thin, aged edge delamination thinning around the top of the hi on either side. The saya is original Edo period black lacquer with a delightful horizontal thin line décor, it has overall light bruising throughout. 27.5 inch blade from tsuba to tip.
A 500 Year Old Samurai Sword Signed Bizen Osafune Sukesada Dated 8th month 2nd year of Eisho [1504/5] Eisho 2 nen 8 gatsu hi. Original brown Edo period lacquer saya, plain iron fushi kashira, pierced iron sukashi tsuba with small copper inlays. Blue silk wrap. The blade has a typical koto period, notare hamon that continues along the whole length of the blade. The blade has an old thinning opening on one side of the kissaki. The skill of the ancient samurai swordsmith was unsurpassed in the world and could take up to 30 years or more for a smith to fully master. This samurai sword, like all true and original samurai swords, would have been the prize possession of every samurai that owned it. It would most likely have cost more than his home, and would certainly have been more important. This is just one reason why fine Japanese sword steel, even of this tremendous age, is in such good state of preservation. When a katana such as this has been, for its entire existence, so highly revered, treasured and appreciated, it will have been cared for most sensitively and treated with the utmost respect during its entire life. In many regards it will have represented the only thing that stood between its samurai owner, of which there may have been 30 or more during this swords great history, and his ultimate downfall in a combat situation. The late Muromachi period was a time of continuous upheaval and war. The demand for swords was high and they needed to have excellent cutting ability. As such, Sukesada swords from this time that have survived to this day can be fine pieces. Sukesada is a name forever synonymous with the Bizen region. The name spans over 60 generations. 24.25 inch blade overall in saya 35.5 inches long.
A 500 Year Old Samurai's Battle Katana From the Koto pre Edo era with original Edo period copper mounts, and iron tsuba with circular patterning and rim. Suguha hamon, and a strong and powerful blade, unusually straighter than usual Koto blades. A true samurai's battle sword with original Edo battle wrap hilt [tsuka] with gold layered menuki. Very little in the way of cosmetic frills, this is a highly functional sword designed for extreme combat warfare, with simple mounts and plain fittings. Plain traditional black lacquer saya. The Battle of Sekigahara (Shinjitai: Kyujitai: Sekigahara no Tatakai) was a decisive battle on October 21, 1600 (Keicho 5, 15th day of the 9th month), that preceded the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate. The related political intrigues leading up to the battle was the historical foundation for James Clavell's 1975 novel, Shogun, later televised in 1980. Legend has it that the ronin Miyamoto Musashi was present at the battle among Ukita Hideie's army and escaped the defeat of Hideie's forces unharmed. Musashi would have been around 16 years of age at the time. There is no hard evidence to prove if Musashi was present or not for the battle. According to one account, the Musashi yuko gamei, "Musashi's achievements stood out from the crowd, and were known by the soldiers in all camps." Musashi is reticent on the matter, writing only that he had "participated in over six battles since my youth". Tokugawa Ieyasu took three more years to consolidate his position of power over the Toyotomi clan and the daimyos, but Sekigahara is widely considered to be the unofficial beginning of the Tokugawa bakufu, the last shogunate to control Japan. Blade tsuba to tip 28.75 inches long
A Beautiful 1640 Shinto Signed Samurai Katana A most sophisticated and elegant yet quiet sword. With patinated copper koshirae fittings of birds feasting of sheaves of corn decorated with gold highlight and a most detailed hand struck nanako ground. Signed Echizen Kuni Shimosaka Sadatsugu. A very fine Koto sukashi tsuba on a simulated stone ground iron plate with pierced clan crest mon, and menuki of samurai arrows. The saya is black with crushed abilone shell decoration. The blade has simply amazing activity and the hamon magnificently vibrant. The rise in popularity of katana by samurai is believed to have been due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the sword was well suited to combat where victory depended heavily on fast response times. The katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the sharpened edge facing up. Ideally, samurai could draw the sword and strike the enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt The length of the katana blade varied considerably during the course of its history. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, katana blades tended to be between 68 to 73 cm (26 to 28 in) in length. During the early 16th century, the average length was closer to 60 cm (23.5 in). Overall 36 inches long in saya, blade tsuba to tip 24 inches,
A Beautiful Ancient Samurai Katana Blade Kamakura Nambokuchu 1280 to 1337 From the time of the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan. With a very active gunome hamon and a chu kissaki [small tip] The blade being so ancient is in remarkable condition for its age. It does have a few small surface pits and some blade thinning but typical for blades of such incredible age. The tang is o suriage with three mekugi ana. It has two small cut out areas on the nakago by the habaki. In 1185, the Minamoto family took over the control over Japan after defeating the Taira clan in the Gempei war. Minamoto Yoritomo was appointed shogun in the year 1192 and established a new government, the Kamakura Bakufu. The new feudal government was organized in a simpler way than the one in Kyoto and worked much more efficient under Japanese conditions. After Yoritomo's death in 1199, quarrels for supremacy started between the Bakufu of Kamakura and the Imperial court in Kyoto. Those quarrels for supremacy found an end in the Jokyu disturbance in 1221 when Kamakura defeated the Imperial army in Kyoto, and the Hojo regents in Kamakura achieved complete control over Japan. By redistributing the land gained during the Jokyu disturbance, they were able to achieve loyalty among all the powerful people throughout the country. The emperor and the remaining governmental offices in Kyoto lost practically all effective power. N 1232 a legal code, the Joei Shikimoku was promulgated. It stressed Confucian values such as the importance of loyalty to the master, and generally attempted to suppress a decline of morals and discipline. Tight control was maintained by the Hojo clan, and any signs of rebellions were destroyed immediately. The shogun stayed in Kamakura without much power while deputies of him were located in Kyoto and Western Japan. Stewards and constables controlled the provinces tightly and loyally. Indeed, the Hojo regents were able to bring several decades of peace and economic expansion to the country until an external power began to threaten Japan. By 1259, the Mongols had conquered China and became also interested in Japan. Several threatening messages of the powerful Mongols were ignored by Kamakura. This resulted in the first Mongol invasion attempt in 1274 on the island of Kyushu. After only a few hours of fighting, however, the large naval invasion fleet, was forced to pull back because of bad weather conditions. This was very fortunate for the Japanese since their odds against the large and modern Mongol force were not favourable at all. Due to good preparations, the Japanese were able to maintain a strong defence for several weeks during a second invasion attempt which occurred in 1281. But again, the Mongols were finally forced to withdraw mainly because of bad weather. Kyushu remained in alert for a possible third invasion attempt, but the Mongols soon had too many problems on the mainland in order to care about Japan. The consequences of the many years of war preparations against the Mongols were fatal to the Kamakura government since they resulted only in expenditures and no profits. Many of the loyal men who were fighting for Kamakura, were now waiting for rewards that the government could not pay. Hence, financial problems and decreasing loyalty among the powerful lords were some of the reasons for the fall of the Kamakura government.
A Beautiful Ancient Samurai Koto Armour Piercing Tanto 600 to 700 years old Mounted in a typically Japanese representation of a Japanese bean pod, in carved hardwood. An ancient Samurai Tanto with an Armour piercing, single edged, triangular section mu-zori blade made around 1300 to 1400 a.d. in the Kamakura to Nambokochu era. Used throughout the great Warring era of Japan's ancient and turbulent history. In nice polish showing typical narrow hamon of the era. The Kamakura period [ Kamakura jidai 1185–1333] is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shogun, Minamoto no Yoritomo. The period is known for the emergence of the samurai, the warrior caste, and for the establishment of feudalism in Japan. The Kamakura period ended in 1333 with the destruction of the shogunate and the short reestablishment of imperial rule under Emperor Go-Daigo by Ashikaga Takauji, Nitta Yoshisada, and Kusunoki Masashige. The Kamakura period marks the transition to land-based economies and a concentration of advanced military technologies in the hands of a specialized fighting class. Lords required the loyal services of vassals, who were rewarded with fiefs of their own. The fief holders exercised local military rule.
A Beautiful Ancient Style Japanese 'Ken' Tanto Dagger Circa 1750 With super polish and nice suguha hamon. Ken are one of the rarer styles of tanto based on samurai blades of over 1000 years ago. Ken blades may have parallel edges or slightly double concave shapes as does this one. Some of the top sword smiths in history made ken as offerings to various temples. It is not uncommon to find ken with a vajra (double thunderbolt) style hilt in keeping with their use as Buddhist ritual implements. The fittings are carved wood of takebori dragon throughout and encased in rich brown lacquer with a full suite of fine shakudo fittings. Shakudo is a billon of gold and copper (typically 4–10% gold, 96–90% copper) which can be treated to form an indigo/black patina resembling lacquer. Unpatinated shakudo visually resembles bronze; the dark colour is induced by applying and heating rokusho, a special patination formula.The ken, a sword with a straight double-edged blade based on Chinese prototypes, was used in Japan from at least the third century until the sixth century. At the end of that period, the double-edged sword was gradually superseded by the single-edged type, from which all later Japanese swords developed. A ken was discovered in one of Japan’s most famous early burial mounds, known as the Eda Funayama kofun (burial mound), located in Kumamoto Prefecture, on Kyushu Island, in southern Japan. The mound, which was excavated first in 1873, yielded many rare items, including jewelry, crowns, ceremonial shoes, armor parts, mirrors, and several swords, all of very high quality. Swords of this earliest period are extremely rare and show the earliest stage in the development of Japanese sword blades.This fabulous ken was made as an homage to the earlist ken, which ahd a very special place in samurai history and it's buddhist traditions. Picture in the gallery of an original Japanese woodblock print depicting Inumura Daikaku stabbing the gigantic demon cat of Nabeshima with his Ken Tanto. 11.25 inch blade, overall in saya 16.75 inches
A Beautiful Antique Suit of Original Edo Period Samurai Gosuku [Armour] Edo period 1598-1863. Completely untouched for the past 200 years. With shinari kabuto [acorn shaped helmet] of built up lacquer over iron construction. With fully laced shikoro [neck armour lames]. Open hanbo face guard, with laced nodowa [throat armour]. Dark brown lacquer thin plates with full lacing to the do in maru-do type form [breast plate without hinge, single side opening]. Chain mail over silk kote [arm armour] with plate tekko [hand armour]. Fully laced and plate sode [shoulder armour] Fully laced four panels of haidate [waist armour] Fully laced kasazuri [thigh armour], without lower suneate. The armour is trimmed in printed and decorated doe skin and all the connection fittings are in traditional carved horn. This armour is absolutely beautiful. It's condition is very good indeed apart from some areas of lacquer wear to the helmet [but this we can attend to], some silk perishing on part of the thigh armour top section, and some colour fading to one hand armour lacquer. Japanese armour is thought to have evolved from the armour used in ancient China and Korea. Cuirasses and helmets were manufactured in Japan as early as the 4th century.Tanko, worn by foot soldiers and keiko, worn by horsemen were both pre-samurai types of early Japanese cuirass constructed from iron plates connected together by leather thongs. During the Heian period 794 to 1185 the Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or do. Japanese armour makers started to use leather (nerigawa) and lacquer was used to weather proof the armor parts. By the end of the Heian period the Japanese cuirass had arrived at the shape recognized as being distinctly samurai. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) which these cuirasses were now being made from. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours).Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered the peaceful Edo period, samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status but traditional armours were no longer necessary for battles. During the Edo period light weight, portable and secret hidden armours became popular as there was still a need for personal protection. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, peasant revolts required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armour jacket) and armoured sleeves as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing.Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armour) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane). Armour continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji period) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armour happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion. This is one of the most attractive ones we have had since we supplied two full antique gosuko, with eight museum grade katana and tachi, to a world famous oligarch for a Japanese themed stateroom on his 600 million dollar superyacht.
A Beautiful Bizen Koto Katana Circa 1380 Nambokochu Era Made in the transitional period between Nambokochu and Muramachi. Super ancient narrow blade with wonderful curvature and typical narrow hamon of the Nambokochu era. Delightful original Edo fittings including its superb Edo lacquer saya with deep ribbing and a court cap pattern saya-jiri [bottom chape mount]. The iron fushi kashira have pure gold inlaid ancient kinbuntai kanji. The iron tsuba is beautifully chisseled with crisp edges. Looking at the late Nanbokucho period, the main Bizen smiths last signed eras (the last dated examples do not always coincide with the end of the smith’s career) were Joji for Motoshige, Koryaku for Chogi, and Oei for Omiya Morishige. Many of the Bizen dates moved up to Eiwa, Koryaku, Eitoku, Shitoku, Kakei, Ko-o, and Meitoku, and the tachi shapes changed to become narrower. Choji’s Koryaku era tachi are narrow, but without other style changes. Morikage’s work from the end of the Nanbokucho period have a narrow shape with small hamon which is similar to Kosori work. Also, there are many Bizen smiths who are not belong to famous schools and do not have a clear school style and people called all of these smiths Kosori smiths. Overall, at the end of the Nanbukucho period, Bizen swords became narrower, and at the same time, the mainstream schools’ characteristics gradually disappeared and smaller hamon become popular.
A Beautiful Edo Period Batojingasa Samurai Horserider's War Hat Black lacquer with superb kiri mon, red lacquer interior with pad and cords but the cords outer silk has seperated. With five leaf pawlonia kiri mon. Paulownia is a deciduous tree that is widely cultivated in Japan. It belongs to the figwort family Paulowniaceae and it is also known as the “princess tree” or “emperor tree”. This tree was adopted as a crest motif because it symbolizes good fortune. In China, people consider it a lucky tree where phoenixes reside. It was also believed that these phoenixes sing “long live the king!” in the high, blooming branches of the tree. Because of this belief, the paulownia tree became a pattern used in the emperor’s clothes and then later became a crest during the end of the Kamakura period. This crest is awarded by the imperial court to retainers. The retainers also awarded the crest to vassals who had performed exemplary deeds. Apart from protection (the main function), a jingasa carried out the functions essential to caps: sunshade and rainshelter. It played too the role of a marker indicating the status of the wearer’s family in society. They were used as a container or weapon too. Jingasa developed both in shape and decoration during the Edo era (1603-1867) and were a symbol of samurai culture. The Jingasa was a conical helmet most commonly worn with Ashigaru Armour. It was typically made of hardened lacquered leather, but also sometimes with iron. The jingasa would also commonly be marked with the mon of the lord or clan to help identify the warrior's side on a battlefield. Overall in very nice condition for age with small lacquer wear marks.
A Beautiful Edo Period Original Samurai Armour 17th-18th Century A superb early to mid Edo samurai yoroi, with the symbol in gold of deer antlers emblazoned on both haidate [thigh protectors], which could indicate vassalage to the family of Honda Tadakatsu a general [and later daimyo] serving under Tokugawa Iayesu, whose symbol was his famous deer antlers worn upon his kabuto helmet. It has a fine helmet kabuto of 12 plates, a 12 plate goshozan suji bachi kabuto. A helmet which is a multiple-plate type of Japanese helmet bowl with raised ridges or ribs showing where the 12 tate hagi-no-ita ( helmet plates) come together at the five-stage tehen kanamono [finial], with the fukurin [metal edges] on each of the standing plates. The mabisashi [peak] lacquered and it has a four-tier lacquered iron hineno-jikoro [neck-guard] laced with dark blue. The interior shows four very ancient helmet plates rivetted together to form the interior support basis of the 12 plate skull. Unlined. With full face menpo facial armour . Dou or d?, a chest armour made up of iron plates of various sizes and shapes with pendents kusazuri made from iron or leather plates hanging from the front and back of the dou to protect the lower body and upper leg. Sode, large [modern] rectangular shoulder protection made from iron and or leather plates. Kote, armoured glove like sleeves which extended to the shoulder or han kote (kote gauntlets) which covered the forearms. Kote made from cloth covered with iron plates of various size and shape, connected by chain armor (kusari). Haidate, thigh guards which tied around the waist and covered the thighs. These were made from cloth with small iron and or leather plates of various size and shape, connected to each other by chain armour (kusari) and sewn to the cloth. Suneate, shin guards made from iron splints connected together by chain armor (kusari) and sewn to cloth and tied around the calf. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries-old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours). Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. This armour has areas of worn and distressed lacquer and areas of cloth/material that are perished due to it's great age as would be expected. Complete with storage box [unlidded]
A Beautiful Koto Tanto of 1580 Signed Tomotsugu Edo period patinated copper fushigashira, iron inlaid with copper flowers, brown ishime stone finish saya. Beautiful polish blade. Double habaki in silver and copper. The tanto is commonly referred to as a knife or dagger. The blade can be single or double edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi
A Beautiful Large and Imposing Signed Shinto Katana Inscribed on the tang, Izumi no Kami fujiwara Kuniteru. A seriously mighty and impressive sword. All original Edo fittings and original Edo lacquer saya with long sayajiri bottom mount. Lacquer decorated with dragonflies. Early Edo period circa 1650. Gold silk wrap tsukaito, blade in beautiful polish showing a most elegant undulating hamon. An original Japanese samurai woodblock print shown in the gallery [for information only] showing how a sword of this stature could have been used. The absolute beginning of a Japanese sword is the unique Tamahagane steel. This steel ore was made in a low clay furnace known as the tatara. The furnace master was called the Murage who wouldn’t lose sight of the tatare once it has been lit. Besides the murage the furnace required a dozen additional workers to operate it through its 7 day Tamahagane production cycle. The tatara was only operated three weeks per year. During each winter – when the air humidity is the lowest - the tatara was fired up. Tosho The Tosho or blade smith gathered the required steel for a sword by selecting the right steel wafers made of flattened pieces of Tamahagane ore. The pieces would be forged together and would go through a folding process creating thousands of layers in the steel (which takes about 12-14 folds). The biggest misconception is that the steel is folded hundreds or thousands of times. Too many folds would actually reduce the carbon content of the steel. Thousands folds would create a useless piece of steel with less carbon than a soft iron nail. The main tools you would find in a Japanese sword forge are similar to what you would find in a Western forge: hammers, anvils and of course the forge itself with a bellow to push air into the forge. A Tosogu-shi (or kinko-shi) was a sword fitting maker or fine metal worker. The tosogu-shi made the metal parts of a Japanese sword such as the tsuba, fuchi and kashira and menuki. Also optional saya decoration such as the koijiri, semegane, saya-jiri, kogai and kozuka are made by the tosogu-shi / kinko-shi. This art used chisels, files, jeweller's saws and punches to create incredible details in a sword’s furniture and applies multiple patina techniques to add colour to the created piece. The most common materials to make sword fittings were steel, copper, several copper based alloys, gold, silver and brass. Besides the base materials, the Japanese art of metalworking often uses inlays of gold, silver as well as specific Japanese alloys such as shibuichi (copper and silver alloy) and shakudo (copper and gold alloy). A nuri-shi is a lacquerer. The Japanese lacquer tradition is seen in many objects including plates, boxes and other daily things. The nuri-shi uses urushi lacquer which is a resin based lacquer made from the sap of a lacquer tree. Urushi nuri – urushi lacquering – is an elaborate process by itself as it requires up to 40 steps with a minimum of 10-14 urushi lacquer layers. A Japanese sword sheath is supposed to be tough, light, water-resistant and preferably also have an element of scratch-resistance. Urushi has survived decades of use and even after centuries, some urushi lacquered pieces are in near perfect condition. There are hundreds of different lacquering styles including a stone-like structure, egg shell inlays, mother of pearl inlays and a ‘simple’ highly patinated finish. Several natural materials were used to give the lacquer work a specific style. By using pigments the nuri-shi could make the exact colour he needed for the job. Maki-e (urushi art work) even used gold and silver powder and leaf, beetle wings and pine needles to classify a Japanese sword sheath as a true work of art. Overall 41.25 inches long in saya, blade tsuba to tip 28.5 inches long, tsuka 10.5 inches long.
A Beautiful Samurai Hira-zukuri O-Tanto Signed Takakuni Circa 1750 Shinto period. A most attractive large o-tanto with a most impressive blade bearing a super and deep hamon. Iron tsuba with inlaid soft metals. Pure gold inlaid iron fittings. Fine original Edo ishime lacquer saya with ribbing showing thin old age cracking. The tanto is commonly referred to as a knife or dagger. The blade can be single or double edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi
A Beautiful Samurai's Yabusami Bow Sleeve. The Form Worn With Full Armour For the martial art of Yabusami bowmanship in combat when in full armour. Wonderful condition for age. With a small strip of fully articulated lateral iron shoulder protection armour, decorated with war fans. Gold embossed leather scroll enhancements, doeskin panels decorated at the wrist with a date, and circular elbow protector. All the doeskin is decorated with dark brown and red highlights, in coloured ink, in a traditional floral design used on armour, on the doeskin sections, for centuries. The linen cloth sleeve has carved buffalo horn cord mounts for attaching the sleeve to the armour suit, and two printed gold circular mon decorated on the linen cloth. Although fully armoured in combat, just the archers bow sleeve, worn on the left arm, was not armoured with chain mail or iron plates at all, other than the small iron flexible ridge at the top to protect against an upper sword cut, unlike all the other parts of his samurai armour. This was to allow fully flexible left arm movement. When not armoured and only wearing regular garb, the samurai bow sleeve was shaped somewhat like a leg o'lamb with a very wide shoulder fixing that went acroos the chest to the right arm pit. As described in the section of Chuyuki (a diary written by Fujiwara no Munetada) dated 1096, yabusame has been practiced since the Heian period as a practical fighting bowmanship skill performed on horseback. A technique known as 'the Hidesato-style of yabusame' was practiced during the Kamakura period, and samurai trained in this pastime enthusiastically, giving demonstrations at events organized by the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).
A Beautiful Shinto Tanto With Finest Shakudo Mounts of the Four Treasures of Calligraphy. Now with the blade beautifully re-polished. A true all original Edo period. 18th century museum grade samurai dagger and work of art combined. The dagger is based on the samurai martial art of calligraphy combined with the god Fukurokujo who used calligraphy to amuse the seven gods of fortune. His image is engraved on the kodzuka handle. A truly fabulous and beautiful Japanese samurai art sword in every sense. Japanese samurai training included arts as well as combat. Shodo, or the Way of Calligraphy, is one of the arts in traditional Japanese samurai education. A most fine tanto with stunning and finest fittings of calligraphy, all ensuite in multi colour patinated shakudo with water pot, brushes, ink making tools etc. With its original complimentary Edo period finest ribbed saya of hardened leather, over lacquered, [achieved with incredibly intense and complex work] with a matching shakudo bottom mount, and gold mimi rimed shakudo tsuba. The shakudo kodzuka is engraved with a profile figure of Fukurokujo with his most distinctive high forehead. God of Wealth, Happiness, Longevity "Four Treasures of the Study" is an expression used to refer to the ink brush, inkstick, paper and inkstone used in Japanese and Chinese calligraphy and painting. The name stems from the time of the Chinese Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 AD). Brushes and ink are two of the legendary “Four Treasures of the Study” tools of Chinese calligraphers, painters and poets over thousands of years. The other vital elements of culture are the rice paper (zhi), and the inkstone (yan) for grinding the solidified inksticks. Brushes are made of animal hair, usually attached to a bamboo stick. Various kinds of animal hair were once used, like goat, ox, rabbit, sheep, marten, badger, deer, wolf, each having certain properties. They can be categorized by their size: large, medium and small; and also by the strength: soft (usually taken from goat), medium (taken from rabbit, or a mixture of goat and weasel hair) and hard or stiff (taken from weasel tail). Hair of different animals can be combined to create different textures. The ink (mo) is commonly made by burning pine or another wood in an earthenware container, mixing dense ash with glue, and compressing it into an ink stick, or another form. An unusual antique piece of ink is shaped like a ruyi, a scepter tribute offering, that conveys wishes for happiness and good fortune. After shaping, it takes about two years for the ink to dry, in a totally dry and dark environment. Paper is usually made from parts of the rice plant, like rice straw or rice flour. The paper in the old days is very thin and light. Thus it can adsorb ink easily. An inkstone is literally a stone mortar for the grinding and containment of ink. Traditional Chinese ink is usually solidified into sticks for easier transport and preservation. Water is usually kept in a ceramic container and sprinkled on the inkstone, which has a generally flat surface. The inkstick would be ground with the flat surface of the inkstone. By mixing ink with different amounts of water, the calligrapher or artist can create different densities and innumerable shades of black and gray. The artist’s energy is expressed through the brush as a swordsman’s is expressed through the weapon. They are both expressions of the mind and aim towards a perfection of bodily motion, from the grip of an object to the execution of the movement with the necessary flow and speed to achieve the result. One mistake in calligraphy and the scroll must be thrown away; the ink is black and permanent. So too, one mistake in a fight, and the samurai will die. Picture in the gallery of Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849) Title: Bateiseki. Arrangement of writing utensils. Another picture is from the Five poems, by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka ?1839-1892). Here Fukufokuju uses his elongated forehead to write calligraphy while the others look on gleefully. One of the seven is perched beneath Fukurokuju’s head, peeking at the canvas. Shakudo is a billon of gold and copper (typically 4-10% gold, 96-90% copper) which can be treated to form an indigo/black patina resembling lacquer. Unpatinated shakudo Visually resembles bronze; the dark colour is induced by applying and heating rokusho, a special patination formula. Shakudo Was historically used in Japan to construct or decorate katana fittings such as tsuba, menuki, and kozuka; as well as other small ornaments. Overall 15 inches long, blade length 9 inches to tsuba
A Bizen Osafune ju Yokeyama Sukekane, 58th Generation Tomonari, Dated 1869 Only very occasionally is it our privilege to offer an Edo katana that comes from a line of smiths that boasts a 58 generations long line of master swordsmiths, descended from Tomonari the founder of the Bizen school. A beautiful katana in the tradition of the Yokoyama Bizen school this sword exemplifies this late Bizen school of the Shinshinto era. Yokoyama Sukekane was the adopted son of Yokoyama Sukemori, and was trained by the famous Yokoyama Sukenaga of the Shinshinto Bizen School. This absolutely delightful sword [dated 1869] has all that one can wish for if one seeks a sword with an ancient pedigree that can trace it's ancestry back almost a thousand years. It has a fine hamon, beautiful fittings and a saya of superb quality with ribbing. Beautiful, singed Edo sukashi tsuba. Fittings in pure gold silver on iron, decorated with designs of weapons and implements of the samurai, the fushi kashira with arrow heads, and menuki of yak hair hossu [fly-whisk], the insignia of a ruler. One supposes one could spend decades trying to find a sword with this ancestry. Stand for photo display only not included
A Circular Edo Iron Tsuba of Two Sea Cucumbers. The Type of Musashi Fame. In negative sukashi. Early Edo period, 82mm x 76mm. One of the most collectable tsuba that are sought and desired by lovers of samurai history. This is the very form of tsuba, favoured by the most famous samurai of all, Miyamoto Musashi, and from his time period of the early Edo era. A most similar tsuba, also from the same era, was in the Randolph B. Caldwell collection of fine tsuba and fittings, and was sold in October 20th, 1994 for $5,400. The famed swordsman Miyamoto Musashi was born Shinmen Takezo in Harima Province and may have fought at Sekigahara under the Ukita as a common soldier. Although a samurai of war, In his brief biography in his book, he confines himself to his achievements in single combat. He claimed to have defeated his first opponent (a certain Arima Kihei) at the age of 13, following this up with a victory over " powerful martial artist called Akiyama of Tajima province." After 1600 Musashi drifted to Kyoto and became involved in a well-known battle with the Yoshioka School of swordsmanship, emerging victorious. He wrote that he engaged in sixty duels without suffering defeat once, and was noted in this regard for his skill at handling two swords simultanously. He was also remembered for employing a simple bamboo sword, which he used to deadly effect. In 1640 Musashi accepted service with the Hosokawa clan, and three years later, in Higo Province, began work on his great book, Gorin no shô (The Book of Five Rings). He finished this influential work on swordsmanship in May 1645 - the same year he died.
A Delightful & Beautiful Most Ancient Samurai Tachi Around 600 Years Old Made Circa 1390 to 1420 this is a most beautiful and ancient sword from the great warring period of Japan's samurai history. The mounts are original Edo period, with lovely nishiji [ground gold] lacquer on the saya and traditional tachi mountings in shinchu and gold silk ito wrapped over pure gold overlaid onto carved kinko dragon, holding ancient ken . The tsuba is a tradional tachi form in three pieces , dai seppa in shinchu and the central plate in iron. A blade of most impressive, elegant and deep curvature, typical of the early samurai sword of the Nambokochu to Muramachi era [1333 to 1573]. As is often with ancient swords the story of it's use starts in the era before it was actually made, by it's master smith, maybe a decade earlier in the Nanboku-cho period (Northern and Southern Courts period) Spanning from 1336 to 1392, it was a period that occurred during the formative years of the Muromachi bakufu of Japan's history. The Imperial seats during the Nanboku-cho period were in relatively close proximity, but geographically distinct. They were conventionally identified as: Northern capital : Kyoto Southern capital : Yoshino. During this period, there existed a Northern Imperial Court, established by Ashikaga Takauji in Kyoto, and a Southern Imperial Court, established by Emperor Go-Daigo in Yoshino. Ideologically, the two courts fought for fifty years, with the South giving up to the North in 1392. However, in reality the Northern line was under the power of the Ashikaga shoguns and had little real independence. This sword would very likely have been used in the Onin War (1467–1477) which led to serious political fragmentation and obliteration of domains: a great struggle for land and power ensued among bushi chieftains and lasted until the mid-sixteenth century. Peasants rose against their landlords and samurai against their overlords, as central control virtually disappeared. An early Japanese print in the gallery shows a samurai receiving his reward of a fine tachi [such as this one] from his shugo daimyo lord. The shugo daimyo were the first group of men to hold the title "daimyo". They arose from among the shugo during the Muromachi period. The shugo daimyo held not only military and police powers, but also economic power within a province. They accumulated these powers throughout the first decades of the Muromachi period. Major shugo daimyo came from the Shiba, Hatakeyama, and Hosokawa clans, as well as the tozama clans of Yamana, Ouchi, and Akamatsu. The greatest ruled multiple provinces. The Ashikaga shogunate required the shugo daimyo to reside in Kyoto, so they appointed relatives or retainers, called shugodai, to represent them in their home provinces. Eventually some of these in turn came to reside in Kyoto, appointing deputies in the provinces. The Onin War was a major uprising in which shugo daimyo fought each other. During this and other wars of the time, kuni ikki, or provincial uprisings, took place as locally powerful warriors sought independence from the shugo daimyo. The deputies of the shugo daimyo, living in the provinces, seized the opportunity to strengthen their position. At the end of the fifteenth century, those shugo daimyo who succeeded remained in power. Those who had failed to exert control over their deputies fell from power and were replaced by a new class, the "sengoku daimyo", who arose from the ranks of the shugodai'K and Ji-samurai. Osuriage tang unsigned, nishiji lacquer on the saya with small surface age chips. Blade 63cm long tsuba to tip. 40 inches long approx overall in saya
A Delightful Edo Period 1600 Japanese Noh Mask, Possibly Amazakuro Akujo From the ancient Japanese tradition of mask drama that can trace its origins to the Bugaku Imperial Court dancing of the 9th century. Noh is the classical theatre of Japan which was codified in the 14th century under the father and son actors Kan'ami and Zeami under the patronage of the Shogun (supreme military leader) Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. The performances utilise masks and elaborate costume. This is a substantial though small size mask, robustly carved from a thick piece of hinoki, with the carving confidently executed. The original colour of the mask appears to be of a predominantly a pinkish skin colour over a very thin layer of gofun, with details of the lips painted in red. The whites of the deep-set eyes are with details. The high domed forehead and the raised eyebrows together with the delicately carved wrinkles add to the overall image of a benevolent deity. It is significant that the mask is called Omote, which means the front surface facing the audience. But there is a reverse side, too, called Ura, behind which the actor conceals himself. Unlike the smooth finished outer surface of a Noh mask, the Ura is a roughly finished indented shell with just two tiny holes, more rudimentary than what we might call eyes. By including himself in this primitive space, the Noh actor transforms himself into a person of another world and attempts to draw the audience after him, by radiating a sense of the existence and non existence of an inhabitant of that other world. This mask is of symbolic size, not a wearing type. The Ayakashi mask expresses god or ghost possessed of mysterious powers. It is also used for a vindictive warrior. Okina (Old man masks) This type of mask originated from sarugaku, the predecessor of noh, in the latter part of the Heian period. This is the oldest type of noh mask. 6 inches x 4.25 inches.
A Edo Period Iron Katana Mokko Form Tsuba Iron plate with inlays of gold and silver. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament. 7 x 7.7cm
A Fabulous Ancient Kamakura Period, Almost 800 Year, Nagamaki Naoshi Katana A simply stunning and most ancient blade, around 700 to 800 years old, in original Edo period fittings of pure gold inlaid copper fushi kashira, of birds and a wild boar, signed by the master craftsman, and a very good, early, iron kaga zogan tsuba, inlaid with sinshu decoration including twin demi-lune imperial chrysanthemum mon of the emperor. It is an o-sukashi tsuba in a pierced wheel spoke pattern, from the koto period, of circa 1580. The katana bears an original, early, nagamaki naganata long polearm blade shortened, as was tradition in the 1400's, to later mount as a samurai katana. It has wonderful brown and gold bi-colour silk deluxe hilt wrap, and a black ishime stone lacquer saya with buffalo horn kurigata and sayajiri. Nagamaki were weapons favoured by the Buddhist warrior monks that would have used these pole arms in service to protect and guard the Temples and surrounding land, which were under constant pressure by neighbouring warring clans attempting to jockey for power and expansion. To this end the sword smiths supplying weapons to this warrior class would have been very mindful to Buddhist beliefs of remaining unattached to material possessions, which explains why many of these weapons were never signed. The blade has the typical early, koto period, thin sugaha hamon that continues along the whole length of the blade but is barely visible on the small middle kissaki area. The blade has one or two very small old surface pitting areas [not suprising for its great age]. We show in the gallery a mounted samurai with his ancient nagamaki pole arm with a most similar blade type. The skill of the ancient samurai swordsmith was unsurpassed in the world and could take up to 30 years or more for a smith to fully master. This samurai sword, like all true and original samurai swords, would have been the prize possession of every samurai that owned it. It would most likely have cost more than his home, and would certainly have been more important. This is just one reason why fine Japanese sword steel, even of this tremendous age, is in such good state of preservation. When a katana such as this has been, for its entire existence, so highly revered, treasured and appreciated, it will have been cared for most sensitively and treated with the utmost respect during its entire life. In many regards it will have represented the only thing that stood between its samurai owner, of which there may have been 30 or more during this swords great history, and his ultimate downfall in a combat situation. 38 inches long overall in saya, blade 25 inches long
A Fabulous and Scarce, High Rank Samurai, Edo Period, Horse Pack-Saddle This is the first example of a kunida-gura of this type we have seen outside of Japan, and even there, top quality examples are scarce indeed. The whole frame is beautifully decorated with crushed abilone shell and the arch mounts engraved with family clan crest [or mon] based on the Tsuta mon, Kamon with ivy, which has been used as a pattern since the earliest times in Japan, as a motif. Its elegant shape and the life force to survive by covering all things. The dominant clan with the tsuta mon were the Matsunaga clan ( Matsunaga-shi). It is a Japanese samurai clan who are descended from the Fujiwara clan. The lineage of Matsunaga Danjo Hisahide strengthen the Matsunaga clan's claim to Fujiwara lineage through Hisahide's nephew, Tadatoshi Naito (also known as Naito Joan and Fujiwara John). Tadatoshi Naito's mother was Naito Sadafusa who was from the Naito clan. The Naito clan are descended from Fujiwara no Hidesato (Hokke (Fujiwara)). Tadatoshi Naito would serve as lord of Yagi castle. Hisahide's granddaughter, Matsunaga Teitoku also strengthened the Matsunaga clan's link to the Fujiwara clan. Her mother was the older sister of Fujiwara Seika. Teitoku's cousin was Tadatoshi Naito. Other sources suggest that the Matsunaga clan may have descended from the Minamoto clan and may be the descendants of Takenouchi no Sukune. Such a piece as this to be of such high quality lacquer, finely embelished with abilone, and bearing the clan mon, shows that this is a high ranking piece, for the transport of weapons, armour boxes, and women of the daimyo's court, within the baggage train of a Daimyo. This is a spectacular piece and they are very rarely seen, and the few that have survived over the centuries are more usually the fairly crude utility examples, completely undecorated and very plain. Over the decades we have had early Japanese woodblock prints showing a procession of horses, in a Daimyo's or Shogun's entourage, some occasionally show a pack saddle exactly such as this, with it's distinctive high crested top. They were usually racked with tanegashima [arquebuss guns] or even polearms. Also, in one early print three women are seated on one example. They may have been attendant's for a Daimyo's consort. We show in the gallery an original Meiji Period photograph of two ladies seated on the same type of saddle, on a ni-uma or konida uma, but a simple plain example of a much lower status.
A Fabulous Edo Samurai Armour Of the Mizuno Clan, Formerly Shogun of Japan Antique Edo period in very nice condition commensurate for age. Tachi omodaka mon of the Mizuno Clan. The rear of back plate has an intact sashimono holder [clan flag pole]. A samurai armour of a member of the Mizuno Clan, a Mizuno Daimyo family. The Mizuno are a branch of the Tokugawa family and Mizuno Nobumoto was Shogun, who died in 1576 just before the Edo period bagan in 1599. Mizuno Nobumoto was a daimyo of Japan's Sengoku period. A son of Mizuno Tadashige, and brother of Mizuno Tadamasa, he was the lord of Kariya Castle.It's kabuto [helmet] is a 8 plate goshozan suji bachi kabuto. Probably 17th-18th century. A ken [plates] Suji bachi, which is a multiple-plate type of Japanese helmet bowl with raised ridges or ribs showing where the 8 tate hagi-no-ita (helmet plates) come together at the four-stage tehen kanamono [finial], with the fukurin [metal edges] on each of the standing plates. The mabisashi [peak] is lacquered and it has a four-tier lacquered iron hineno-jikoro [neck-guard] two Tachi Omadaka mon of the Mizuno on the front wings . With a full menpo face mask guard with moustach. The Do has the large gold Tachi Omadaka mon of the Mizuno and it bears at least twp sword cuts across it. Nobumoto sided with Oda Nobuhide in 1542, having switched his allegiance from the Imagawa family, but soon changed sides once more, to serve under the Matsudaira family. He was assigned Kariya Castle to defend. Oda Nobunaga blamed Nobumoto of selling rice to Akiyama Nobutomo (a rival Takeda officer), in 1576. Tokugawa Ieyasu thus sent Hiraiwa Chikayoshi to kill him. Nobumoto's brother, Mizuno Tadashige then went on to take Nobutomo's place. Nobumoto is buried in the Mizuno family temple, Ryogon-ji, a Zen Buddhist monastery established in 1413, in Kariya, Japan. Mon and kamon are Japanese emblems used to decorate and identify an individual or family. While mon is encompassing term that may refer to any such device, kamon and mondokoro refer specifically to emblems used to identify a family. The devices are similar to the badges and coats of arms in European heraldic tradition, which likewise are used to identify individuals and families. Mon are often referred to as crests in Western literature, which is another European heraldic device that mimics the mon in function. No leg defences. This armour has areas of worn and distressed lacquer and areas of cloth/material that are perished due to it's great age as would be expected.
A Fabulous Samurai Long Tanto Signed Kaneshige 1570 With a super blade in great condition for age. Gold and shakudo pony menuki, flower head shakudo fushi kashira. The kodzuka is also decorated with gold ponies and has a signed blade but it bears a wide cut in the edge, possibly cut by a sword. The tanto is commonly referred to as a knife or dagger. The blade can be single or double edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi
A Fabulous Shinto Katana Circa 1620 With Fine Edo Koshirae The gently undulating yet exceptionaly deep hamon is very fine quality and this is a most beautiful an impressive katana. A very fine Shinto blade set in very fine quality shakudo, Edo period mounts, of multi coloured patination and pour gold onlaid décor. The saya has it's original Edo red lacquer, and the sword is mounted with it's koto period o-sukashi iron tsuba carved with profiles of flying geese. The production of swords in Japan is divided into specific time periods: jokoto (Ancient swords, until around 900 A.D.), koto (old swords from around 900–1596), shinto (new swords 1596–1780), shinshinto (new new swords 1781–1876), traditional gendaito (modern swords 1876–1945). The first use of "katana" as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi is found in the 12th century. These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower ranking warriors. The evolution of the tachi into the katana seems to have started during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the "katana" signature were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the signature facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner. However, it is thought by many, that as many as 70% of katana made were never signed at all. The rise in popularity of katana by samurai is believed to have been due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the sword was well suited to combat where victory depended heavily on fast response times. The katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the sharpened edge facing up. Ideally, samurai could draw the sword and strike the enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt The length of the katana blade varied considerably during the course of its history. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, katana blades tended to be between 68 to 73 cm (26 to 28 in) in length. During the early 16th century, the average length was closer to 60 cm (23.5 in). By the late 16th century, the average length returned to greater lengths. However, with every new owner [and early blades may have had 20 owners] the blade could be reduced if required to fit, and the shorter samurai would need shorter swords however long the considered norm may have been. Overall 40 inches long in saya
A Fabulous Signed Samurai O-Tanto A wonderful samurai sword, circa 1760. A large tanto almost wakazashi size. With hard lacquered leather bound tsuka. Late shinto period, signed blade and signed fittings. The signature is in amost unusual form and it's translation, as yet, still eludes us. The fittings are all bronze and hammered with with fine gold and probably by the much sought after Goto school. Superb kodsuka with gold foil and carved copper, signed blade. Leather covered saya with iron and gold Kojiri. Gold rimmed bronze tsuba with nanako ground and Shishi. Tanto first began to appear in the Heian period, however these blades lacked artistic qualities and were purely weapons. In the Early Kamakura period high quality tanto with artistic qualities began to appear, and the famous Yoshimitsu (the greatest tanto maker in Japanese history) began his forging. Tanto production increased greatly around the Muromachi period and then dropped off in the Shinto period. Shinto period tanto are quite rare. Tanto were mostly carried by Samurai; commoners did not generally carry them. Women sometimes carried a small tanto called a kaiken in their obi for self defence.It was sometimes worn as the shoto in place of a wakizashi in a daisho, especially on the battlefield. Before the 16th century it was common for a Samurai to carry a tachi and a tanto as opposed to a katana and a wakizashi. Shishi (or Jishi) is translated as “lion” but it can also refer to a deer or dog with magical properties and the power to repel evil spirits. A pair of shishi traditionally stand guard outside the gates of Japanese Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, although temples are more often guarded by two Nio protectors. The Shishi (like the Nio) are traditionally depicted in pairs, one with mouth open and one with mouth shut. The opened/closed mouth relates to Ah (open mouth) and Un (closed mouth). “Ah” is the first sound in the Japanese alphabet, while “N” (pronounced “un”) is the last. These two sounds symbolize beginning and end, birth and death, and all possible outcomes (from alpha to omega) in the cosmic dance of existence. The first letter in Sanskrit is “Ah” as well, but the last is “Ha.” Nonetheless, the first and last sounds produced by the mouth are “Ah” and “M.” The Sanskrit “m” and the Japanese “n” sound exactly the same when hummed with mouth closed. The spiritual Sanskrit terms AHAM and AUM thus encapsulate the first letter-sound (mouth open) and the final sound (mouth closed). Others say the open mouth is to scare off demons, and the closed mouth to shelter and keep in the good spirits. The circular object often shown beneath their feet is the Tama, or sacred Buddhist jewel, a symbol of Buddhist wisdom that brings light to darkness and holds the power to grant wishes. Overall 26.5 inches long, blade 13.75 inches long
A Fabulous Wakazashi by Master Sadahide Student of Masahide Dated 1830 A simply wonderful wide and sizeable blade with fine hamon and incredible tight grain hada. Copper patinated fushi kashira od the tiger and bamboon. A very good signed copper tsuba with samurai. Original black lacquer saya with fine kodzuka utility knife. As Sukehiro and Shinkai were highly praised by Kamada Natae in his book he wrote in this period swordsmiths begun to imitate their works making strong shape and Hamon in Toran-Ha. Swords in this period imitated the Osaka style. Then Masahide ( one of most famous sword smiths in Shinshinto time ) advocated in his book that "we should make swords by the method of the Koto era." With this final aim swordsmiths begun to create their own steels trying to reach the quality of the ancient one. Combining materials which have different quantity of carbon, a good Jihada will appear. Therefore, swordsmiths used a lot of materials like old nails and the like to adjust the quantity of carbon to be suitable for swordmaking.Even today this steel is called Oroshi-gane. As already said an easy way to produce Tamahagane was available in Shinto time and swordsmith could get good quality Tamahagane. Therefore, it seems that most of them didn't make their own Oroshi-gane. But some swordsmiths like Kotetsu or Hankei followed Masahide suggestions and reached a top-quality level combining ancient iron/steel with modern one. In effect Ko-Tetsu means "ancient steel".
A Fabulous, 16th Century, Dated and Signed Koto Period Wakazashi Signed Nishu ju Kanefusa from Hyuga province, Gassan school. Dated Dai-ei reign. Bound in Imperial white silk over black giant ray skin, with two menuki of a large cockeral and possibly a koro incense burner. The fushi is chisseled patinated copper of takabori pure gold decorated flowering plants over a nanako ground. Carved buffalo horn fushi. Koto period Higo style tsuba in the five lobed mokko form in iron. The saya is beautifully lacquered in ishime stone finish. The blade looks absolutely beautiful and the whole sword is just a joy the hold and admire. The Imperial white silk hilt is not only stunningly attractive it is a sign of wealth and status. The Gassan school derives, as its name suggests, from Mt. Gassan in the old province of Dewa (present-day Yamagata prefecture), and is characterized by a wavy grain called ayasugi hada. According to tradition, it was founded by a smith named Kiomaru (or Kishin Dayu, as he was also known), who lived in the sacred grounds of Mt. Gassan back in the 12th century. Ever since, swordsmiths have flourished at the foot of Mt. Gassan, and a number of masters have appeared, in a long succession. The Gassan school origins remains to this day one of the most prestigious and successful lines of sword forging. The roots of Gassan extend far back into the Kamakura period (1185-1333 AD), and it is suspected perhaps even as early as Heian period (794-1185 AD). The home of Gassan was in Dewa province in the northern region of Honshu where they were the only indigenous school to Dewa. The name “Gassan” actually refers to one of three sacred mountains of Dewa, or “Dewa Sanzan”, the other two being Mt. Haguro and Mt. Yudono. It is a very mountainous and remote region, and was even more so in the earliest days of the school. Some Gassan smiths left Dewa and travelled to work in Hyuga, as did Gassan Masatsugu
A Fabulously Beautiful Soten, Gold Dragon Mounted, Sunobi O-Tanto Signed Takeshige, circa 1700. Either a very long tanto [samurai dagger] or a short wakazashi [samurai short sword] The complete koshirae [mounts] of, fushi, kashira, menuki and tsuba are all of wonderful quality and beauty, and all depicting in deep takebori, the dragon in pure gold, over patinated, hand nanako ground, copper. The chisseling has created stunning detail and it is a true beauty in all respects. A very attractive undulating hamon with distinct Shinto period yakideshi, in nice bright polish. The blade has a few old age pitting marks, and one around the size of a grain of rice around 5 inches from the tip. The saya is black sprial ishime lacquer. Blade tsuba to tip 15.25 inches, full length 22 inches.
A Fine & Beautiful Japanese Shinto Katana Circa 1630 Quietly reserved, and a most attractive sword indeed, and of good impressive length. With all original Edo koshirae [mounts] including original Edo period saya and black lacquer, Edo mounts and tsuba. Beautifully polished blade showing an elaborate undulating gunome hamon. Original Edo period beige silk hilt binding [tsukaito]. All of the fittings to this delightful sword are it's original Edo mounts and all in nice condition and quality, untouched for around 200 years. By the time Ieyasu Tokugawa unified Japan under his rule at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, only samurai were permitted to wear the sword. A samurai was recognized by his carrying the feared daisho, the ‘big sword, little sword’ of the warrior. These were the battle katana, the ‘big sword,’ and the wakizashi, the ‘little sword.’ The name katana derives from two old Japanese written characters or symbols: kata, meaning’side,’ and na, or ‘edge.’ Thus a katana is a single-edged sword that has had few rivals in the annals of war, either in the East or the West. Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan’s knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai — a very real matter of life or death — that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: ‘The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated.’. The Edo lacquer on the saya has areas of usual age wear. Overall length in saya 38.25 inches, blade length tsuba to tip 28.75 inches
A Fine Edo Handachi Katana Probably By Tadayoshi Circa 1680 Very fine, all original Edo period handachi fittings, of very fine Hizen nunome-zogan work, in silver copper and pure gold inlays. With the tsuba and han-dachi fittings all matching in a full suite. Long blade with fine hamon, looking simply beautiful. The katana was such a crucial part of a samurai’s life that when a young warrior was on the verge of entering this world, the sword he would use as a protector was brought into the delivery room as if to greet the young one. And, when a weathered, old veteran warrior was on his deathbed, ready to cross over into the White Jade Pavilion of the afterlife, his katana was placed at his side, as if to protect him one last time. Samurai endured for almost 700 years, from 1185 to 1867. Samurai families were considered the elite. They made up only about six percent of the population and included daimyo and the loyal soldiers who fought under them. Samurai means “one who serves." Samurai were expected to be both fierce warriors and lovers of art, a dichotomy summed up by the Japanese concepts of bu (“the way of life of the warrior”) and bun (“the artistic, intellectual and spiritual side of the samurai”). Originally conceived as away of dignifying raw military power, the two concepts were synthesized in feudal Japan and later became a key feature of Japanese culture and morality.The quintessential samurai was Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary early Edo-period swordsman who reportedly killed 60 men before his 30th birthday and was also a painting master. Members of a hierarchal class or caste, samurai were the sons of samurai and they were taught from an early age to unquestionably obey their mother, father and daimyo. When they grew older they were trained by Zen Buddhist masters in meditation and the Zen concepts of impermanence and harmony with nature. The were also taught about painting, calligraphy, nature poetry, mythological literature, flower arranging, and the tea ceremony. As part of their military training, it was said, that samurai were taught to sleep with their right arm underneath them so if they were attacked in the middle of the night and their the left arm was cut off the could still fight with their right arm. Samurai that tossed and turned at night were cured of the habit by having two knives placed on either side of their pillow. It seems somewhat extreme, but not entirely impossible. Samurai have been describes as "the most strictly trained human instruments of war to have existed." They were expected to be proficient in the marital arts of aikido and kendo as well as swordsmanship and archery---the traditional methods of samurai warfare---which were viewed not so much as skills but as art forms that flowed from natural forces that harmonized with nature. An individual didn't become a full-fledged samurai until he wandered around the countryside as begging pilgrim for a couple of years to learn humility. When this was completed they achieved samurai status and receives a salary from his daimyo paid from taxes (usually rice) raised from the local populace. Swords in Japan have long been symbols of power and honour and seen as works of art. Often times swordsmiths were more famous than the people who used them.
A Fine Edo Period Round Tetsu Katana Tsuba A round iron plate tsuba decorated with a working peasant in the shadow of a mountain and trees. Small gold and silver onlays. Circa 1720. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Fine Edo Tsuba Kaga Kyoto Praying Mantis, Cricket Butterfly in Gold Inlay Circa 1730 from the family of Air Marshal Lord Dowding, commander of the Royal Airforce in WW2. Iron plate inlaid with silver and gold superior Kaga Kyoto school tsuba of fine quality. 2.5 inches x 2.25 inches
A Fine Japanese Samurai's Matchlock, Teppo Tanageshima, Silver Tokugawa mon A beautiful museum quality piece. A fine original long Samurai tanegashima musket from the Edo period [1598-1868], the barrel is signed underneath with the gunmaking family name. The stock on the underside bears a silver escutcheon engraved with the kamon of the Tokugawa clan, the ruling clan of Japan. The buttstock has a fine inlaid large shishi liondog in sentoku. The Tokugawa Shoguns ruled Japan for more than two centuries and all daimyo honoured the Tokugawa often by including the hollyhock mon [their clan crest kamon] on guns, sword fittings and scabbards as well as armours. The type of weapon most often called [in Japanese, and sometimes in English] Hinawaju, which means matchlock gun. It was a type of matchlock configured arquebus firearm. The barrel bears a name Tomokune of Goshu Province, plus additional kanji yet to be translated. From the Edo period of long size with a wooden stock, decorated with sentoku sakura throughout and iron octagonal barrel widening towards the muzzle and stunningly decorated with cranes with details in silver and sentoku, together with its original flared ramrod. Brass rimmed holes on the offside for the lighting match [a long thick smouldering cord] to pass through. This is in very good condition overall. The Samurai's teppo has been used in Samurai Warfare since their introduction to the Samurai, in 1543, by the Portugese. Much of Japan was involved with internecine wars during the Sengoku period (1467-1603), as feudal lords vied for supremacy. Matchlock guns were introduced midway through the period and saw extensive use in the later years of the conflict, playing a decisive role on the battlefield. In 1549, Oda Nobunaga ordered 500 guns to be produced for his armies at a time when the benefits of firearms over traditional weapons were still relatively questionable to other daimyo. The Japanese soon worked on various techniques to improve the effectiveness of their guns. They developed a staggered firing technique to create a continuous rain of bullets on the enemy. They also developed larger caliber barrels and ammunition to increase lethality. Protective boxes in lacquerware were invented to fit over the firing mechanism so it could still fire while it was raining, as were systems to accurately fire weapons at night by keeping fixed angles thanks to measured strings. Another development would be the hayago, a bamboo cartridge used to facilitate faster reloading. A hollow tube open on the both ends, the hayago contained gun powder, wadding, and a bullet. Upon tearing open the tube's paper seal at the bottom, a soldier could quickly use it to pour the necessary powder into his weapon before placing over the barrel and using his rammer to load both wadding and bullet into the barrel at the same time. After use, the hayago could be kept for repacking or discarded. One significant place to see other original Samurai Tanegeshima in present day Japan is in Matsumoto Castle, within their armoury. Particular importance in the collection are the Tanageshima, which played an important role during the massive battle for Osaka Castle in 1615. The main articles in the collection are matchlocks manufactured in the period from 1543 (when guns were introduced by the Portuguese through Tanegashima island) through to the late Edo period during the long Tokugawa peace. In total there are 141 guns of different design, caliber and period, and 230 pieces of armor. All of the weapons were made in Japan during a century in which enormous changes took place, both in Japan's social and political organization and modernisation prior to the closing of the country and 250 years of relative isolation. Matsumoto Castle was built some 50 years after the introduction by Portuguese traders of firearms into Japan. For this reason the walls of the turrets (Nurigome-zukuri) are thick enough to withstand bullets, and the defences were built in depth. As firearms were also used to defend the castle, the donjon has 55 square holes called teppozama, from which matchlock muskets (and in some cases small cannon) could bring fire to bear on an assaulting force. 52.25 inches long overall
A Fine Japanese Shinto Aikuchi Tanto Circa 240 Years Old Silvered Fittings An extremely sophisticated and elegant tanto, of stunning simplicity. With silvered kogai The kogai is actually two pieces ("warikogai") that can be used as chopsticks. Tsuka bound in thin strands of beleen. Gold foiled habaki. All original Edo period fittings and lacquer, Edo polish. Deep gunome hamon. Gilt chrysanthemum mekugi ana roundels. The tanto is commonly referred to as a knife or dagger. The blade can be single or double edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi. Small foil area of the habaki lacking. The old lacquer on the saya has old comtempoary wear marks etc. Overall 12.5 inches long, blade around 8 inches long
A Fine Japanese Shinto era Samurai Wakazashi Superb Fittings, Edo Polish Beautifully bound in gold silk ito. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set. Kanzan Sato, in his book titled "The Japanese Sword", notes that there did not seem to be any particular need for the wakizashi and suggests that the wakizashi may have become more popular than the tanto due to the wakizashi being more suited for indoor fighting. He mentions the custom of leaving the katana at the door of a castle or palace when entering while continuing to wear the wakizashi inside. Wakizashi were worn on the left side, secured to the obi [waist sash].
A Fine Shinto Wakazashi By Omni Daijo Fujiwara Tadahiro Circa 1660. The fittings are matching depicting comorants in pure gold on bronze or iron, and the kozuka a figure riding a giant carp in gold over copper. The great Tadahiro II of Hizen. 2nd generation Tadahiro was born in Keicho 19 (1614) as the first son by a mistress of 1st generation Hizen-koku Tadayoshi. His initial name was Hashimoto Heisakuro, later had succeeded to his father's name of Shinzaemon. He excelled in as a superior sword maker since teenage to play a ghost-maker on behalf of his father in his later years. He had succeeded major Tadahiro 2nd generation in Kanei 9, (1632) when he was as young as 19 years old. He intended not to succeed his father's smith name Tadayoshi for the sake of preserving appearances that he was not a legitimate child of Tadayoshi. Passed away in Genroku 6, (1693), was 80 years old. His legitimate child 3rd generation succeeded to the initial name of Tadayoshiu when he enjoyed the Mutsu daijo title in Manji 3 (1660), was 24 years old. The subject artisan Tadahiro 2nd generation established and developed the superior high standard quality of sword making for the major Hizen Tadayoshi school and had laid the foundations for the later generations until 9th by the end of Edo period. This beautiful wakizashi we believe as his work in his early thirties of 1644-47. Most superior forging method using top quality fine steel known as "Tamahagane" generates precisely fine Ko-Itame with sparkling Ji-nie glittering that generates superior Chikei darkish Nie lines activity. The forging scene looks like "Nashi-ji".?We would appraise it as "Above Superior Made" / "Above Supreme Sharp". 26.5 inches long overall in saya,, blade tsuba to tip 18.65 inches.
A Fine Signed '14th Century Sadamune' Samurai Wakazashi, Dated 1329 Signed Sagami Kuni Junin Sadamune, dated Gentoku period (1329-1331) With a beautuful pair of early fushi kashira in shibuishi of a kingfisher in reeds. The tsuba is iron and also signed. The tsuka is bound with leather ito over bronze menuki. The saya is a stone finish ishime lacquer with a kodzuka utility knife pocket and buffalo horn fittings. Sagamune was the son or the adopted son or pupil of the legendary Masamune, The most famous swordmaker in Japanese history. However, no genuine signed swords by Sadamune are known to exist. The story of Masamune and Sadamune; At the end of the 13th century, the Japanese military rulers predicted an upcoming war with the Mongols, and they set out to strengthen the country's power and heighten the nation's chances in battle. The samurai warriors prepared beautifully wrought armour and helmets to wear into the battlefield, and they sought out the making of more samurai sword tachi, to be created by swordsmiths. These developments led to the creation of magnificient and indeed beautiful tachi long swords during this period. The Mongols invaded Japan twice, in 1274 and 1281, and incurred great damage on the northern section of Kyushu island. These invasions also hastened the weakening of the Kamakura shogunal government. As part of shogunate and the imperial court's preparations for yet a third invasion, they ordered an ongoing round of kajikito rituals to be held at Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines throughout the nation. The shogunate donated tachi to these temples and shrines as offerings, and ordered that they be used in these kajikito rituals. The legendary smith Masamune is thought to have created his swords amidst these social and historical conditions. Masamune is said to have created many superb swords in Kamakura, Sagami province, but today, swords signed with Masamune's own signature are extremely rare. The unsigned swords that have been attributed to Masamune and their splendid craftmanship have led to the highest praise of Masamune as the master swordsmith. Today, Masamune is Japan's best-known swordsmith, far outstripping the fame of many other master swordsmiths. Hikoshiro Sadamune is said to have been a son or adopted son of the great Masamune. He inherited Masamune's style very well and his skill was comparable to Masamune. His katana mostly have broad mihaba and large elongated kissaki. Most of his tanto are more than a foot in length, a variety normally termed wakizashi. This shows that he worked from the end of Kamakura to the Nambokucho era. In comparison with Masamune's work, he produced more gentle midare, and exhibited a variety of midare which tend to spread into a hitatsura. He was quite good at engraving horimono on blades also. However, as we said before, no authentic and signed works of Sadamune exists. A swordsmith referred to as Takagi Sadamune, who worked at Takagi in Omi province, is considered to be his pupil. Masamune is thought to have been trained by swordsmiths from Bizen and Yamashiro provinces, such as Kunitsuna and Kunimitsu. Masamune himself went on to train many disciples, and the swordsmiths in the swordmaking lineages formed by Masamune's pupils continued to forge swords with Masamune's own particular characteristics. Making all due consideration as the importance of Sadamune, it seems this cannot possibly be a signed and dated piece by Sadamune personally, but even the great master smith Yasutugu used to make swords that he signed with Sadamune's name. Whomsoever made this sword, and when, we may never know, but it is certainly a most intriguing piece of great age and beauty. In the early Shinto era Yasatsugu, one of the great smiths, used to sign his works as the works of Masamune and Sadamune as well as Awataguchi Yoshimitsu and others. One may ask why would Yasutsugu make reproductions of these famous smiths. The answer is that he was probably asked (or likely ordered) to by his sponsors, the Lords Hideyasu, Ieyasu, and Hidetada. We must remember that throughout Japanese history and up until today, gift giving is an integral part of the Japanese culture. In those days, especially, a very appropriate gift or reward for service was a traditional samurai sword. The more famous the sword the better. For the Tokugawa family, swords made by Yoshimitsu and his descendants were thought to be especially auspicious. Of course, there was a finite number of “real” ones around to be used as gifts. Therefore, it was necessary to “create” a few extra from time to time. The recipient was probably fully aware that the sword was not the actually by the master as its signature suggested. But, it truly was the thought that counted, especially since it was not uncommon for the same sword to be re-gifted back to the donor at some suitable future date. Hikoshiro Sadamune was a resident of Goshu, and traveled to Kamakura where he was taken into the mon of Masamune. He became the star pupil of the master smith, was adopted as his son, and was granted the use of the Mune character from his teacher's name. He achieved great fame as Soshu Sadamune and best represented his father's skill of all those said to have been taught by Masamune. Of all the famous meito gathered and recorded during the Edo period, the representation of Soshu Sadamune was second only to Masamune. Late his his career, it is said that Sadamune was summoned back to Takagi in Goshu, in order to make a copy of a famous sword known as the Ropecutter. He stayed and took up residence in Takagi. There is one signed tanto representing his work of this period, a piece that that was owned and cherished by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The signature read Goshu Takagi ju Sadamune. He is said to have had a son whom he instructed and traveled with him. The son inherited the name of Sadamune when the father died, and is the Nidai Sadamune. He is also recorded as having signed Takagi Sadamune. Old painting in the gallery is of Masamune, Sadamune's master.
A Fine Signed Shinto O-Tanto Signed Yamoto Daijo Kanehiro. Signed Shinto Tanto, by a master smith bearing the honorific title Assistant Lord of Yamoto. A Samurai's personal dagger signed Yamoto Daijo Kanehiro. A Smith who had a very high ranking title A very nice signed Tanto, in full polish, with an early, Koto, Kamakuribori Style Iron Tsuba. The tsuba is probably Muramachi period around 1450, carved in low relief to one side. 6.5cm. Plain early iron Koshira. The blade in nice polish, itami grain and a medium wide sugaha hamon signed with his high ranking official title Yamoto Daijo Kanehiro [Kane Hiro, Assistant Lord of Yamoto Province] circa 1660. He lived in Saga province. Superb original Edo period ribbed lacquer saya.the saya has a usual side pocket to fit a kodzuka utility knife. These knives were always a separate non matching and disconnected part of the dagger. Black silk binding over silver feather menuki. The samurai were bound by a code of honour, discipline and morality known as Bushido or “The Way of the Warrior.” If a samurai violated this code of honour (or was captured in battle), a gruesome ritual suicide was the chosen method of punishment and atonement. The ritual suicide of a samurai or Seppuku can be either a voluntary act or a punishment, undertakan usually with his tanto or wakazashi. The ritual suicide of a samurai was generally seen as an extremely honourable way to die, after death in combat.
A Formidable Shinto Katana With A Most Impressive Blade Circa 1750. Photos show the blade before it has now been repolished. Good Edo period original mounts and an iron and gold embellished tsuba. Two colour saya of cinnabar and black, with the black in a rivulated ishime stone finish patterned lacquer. The fushi kashira decorated in a botanical theme with small gold highlights. The tsuba is decorated with a very finely chisselled pagoda. It has a delightful and good choji hamon on the blade, now fully re-polished, it also has a good, long kissaki. New photos will be added soon. The saya bears a small traces of a gilt exhibition label that shows at some time in its past history this sword was exhibited. The samurai were roughly the equivalent of feudal knights. Employed by the shogun or daimyo, they were members of hereditary warrior class that followed a strict "code" that defined their clothes, armour and behavior on the battlefield. But unlike most medieval knights, samurai warriors could read and they were well versed in Japanese art, literature and poetry. Samurai endured for almost 700 years, from 1185 to 1867. Samurai families were considered the elite. They made up only about six percent of the population and included daimyo and the loyal soldiers who fought under them. Samurai means “one who serves." Samurai were expected to be both fierce warriors and lovers of art, a dichotomy summed up by the Japanese concepts of bu (“the way of life of the warrior”) and bun (“the artistic, intellectual and spiritual side of the samurai”). Originally conceived as away of dignifying raw military power, the two concepts were synthesized in feudal Japan and later became a key feature of Japanese culture and morality.The quintessential samurai was Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary early Edo-period swordsman who reportedly killed 60 men before his 30th birthday and was also a painting master. Members of a hierarchal class or caste, samurai were the sons of samurai and they were taught from an early age to unquestionably obey their mother, father and daimyo. When they grew older they were trained by Zen Buddhist masters in meditation and the Zen concepts of impermanence and harmony with nature. The were also taught about painting, calligraphy, nature poetry, mythological literature, flower arranging, and the tea ceremony. As part of their military training, samurai were taught to sleep with their right arm underneath them so if they were attacked in the middle of the night and their the left arm was cut off the could still fight with their right arm. Samurai that tossed and turned at night were cured of the habit by having two knives placed on either side of their pillow. Samurai have been describes as "the most strictly trained human instruments of war to have existed." They were expected to be proficient in the marital arts of aikido and kendo as well as swordsmanship and archery---the traditional methods of samurai warfare---which were viewed not so much as skills but as art forms that flowed from natural forces that harmonized with nature. An individual didn't become a full-fledged samurai until he wandered around the countryside as begging pilgrim for a couple of years to learn humility. When this was completed they achieved samurai status and receives a salary from his daimyo paid from taxes (usually rice) raised from the local populace. Swords in Japan have long been symbols of power and honour and seen as works of art. Often times swordsmiths were more famous than the people who used them. The upper portion of the saya's lacquer in the cinnabar section has small lines of dark discolouration. Length overall in saya 43 British inches, blade from tsuba to tip 28.75 inches.
A Good Antique Edo Period Iron Plate Tempo Tsuba Tempo school and the yakite finish (heat treatment) is typical, as is the excellent iron. The smith who made this knew what he was doing; for all the wildness of the stamping it is very finely constructed. The patina is amazingly soft and velvety kozuka and kogai ana, on each side, 4 stamps of pairs of clouds? Kozuka and kogai hitsu ana (suhama); 74 mm
A Good Antique Edo Period Round Signed Iron Plate Tsuba Embossed Seashells The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament 61 mm
A Good Edo Period Noda Maru Gata Oval Iron Wakazashi Tsuba With a simulated stone finish surface. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other. 2.5 inches long.
A Good Koto Era Samurai 0-Tanto Signed Mihara ju Masaiye Circa 1530. a large sized tanto with all original Edo era fittings and mounts, sukashi tsuba in iron, iron Higo style fittings, beautiful polish blade with fine sugaha hamon. Blue tsuka-ito over good quality rayskin, good Edo period ishime lacquer saya with recessed pocket for a kodzuka knife. From the school of Mihara sword smiths. Mihara den was founded at the beginning of the fourteenth century, in the Bingo province, by sword maker Masaiye. Other prominent masters of this school are Masanobu, Masanori, Masamori, Masachika and already mentioned Masaiye. The latter founded a family that made swords to the end of the Edo era. Mihara's school upheld the tradition of Yamato, which belonged to Gokaden (the school of Five Traditions). With the beginning of the Kamakura period, tanto were forged to be more aesthetically pleasing, and hira and uchi-sori tanto were the most popular styles for wars in the kamakura period. Near the middle of the Kamakura period, more tanto artisans were seen, increasing the abundance of the weapon, and the kanmuri-otoshi style became prevalent in the cities of Kyoto and Yamato. Because of the style introduced by the tachi in the late Kamakura period, tanto began to be forged longer and wider. The introduction of the Hachiman faith became visible in the carvings in the tanto hilts around this time. The hamon (line of temper) is similar to that of the tachi, except for the absence of choji-midare, which is nioi and utsuri. Gunomi-midare and suguha are found to have taken its place. In Nambokucho, the tanto were forged to be up to forty centimetres as opposed to the normal one shaku (about thirty centimetres) length. The tanto blades became thinner between the uri and the omote, and wider between the ha and mune. At this point in time, two styles of hamon were prevalent: the older style, which was subtle and artistic, and the newer, more popular style. Blades could be of exceptional quality. As the end of the period neared, the average blade narrowed and the sori became shallow. 19 1/2 inches long overall, blade 13 1/2 inches long tsuba to tip.
A Good Koto Period O Sukashi Tsuba Cirtca 1550. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Good Late Edo Dragon Small Signed Tanto in Cinnabar Lacquer A traditional and beautiful original antique Japanese tanto, in an impressive fitting of a finely executed over-lacquered carved dragon. Made in the Late Edo to Meiji Emperor's reign era of the mid to late 19th century. Unokubi-zukuri shaped [cormorant's neck] signed blade Naomune [but a variant kanji of Nao {see John Yamoto The Samurai Sword]. Such finely attractive pieces were incredibly popular with the newly arrived English visitors, that had been brought to Japan after its new opening to the modern world by the pro Western Meiji Emperor, after the transition of Japan from the feudal Edo Shogunate era. Until the Meiji period Japan had been a closed society for hundreds of years. English visitors were brought by steamships to Japan for the first ever time in history, by, such as, the early Thomas Cook's Worldwide Excursions. They first arrived in the Victorian era just after the 1877 samurai rebellion, and the samurai's subsequent defeat by the Emperor's new modern army. This dagger's dragon fittings are stunningly and traditionally executed, in typical Japanese fine detail, in cinnabar blood red lacquer. It attracted the English due to the West's fascination with all things Japanese, and most importantly the legendary samurai and their famous weaponry. It was during this period, lasting for around 10 years, that almost all the original antique Samurai swords, that survive today in the West, came to England from Japan, mostly as esteemed gifts to prolific English engineers and traders, commissioned by the Emperor to help industrialise and modernise Japan, in order to assist it to join the West's modern industrial world. A task that Britain achieved only too well, helping through its unique skills, to create one of the greatest industrial nations in the world, from a feudal society without any modern industry at all, in just a few decades. Overall 10 1/2 inches long. Now fully repolished blade and looking fabulous
A Good Original Shinto Katana Circa 1730, Blade Signed Kanetoshi Beautiful undulating hamon and a most elegant curvature. Signed 'Kanetoshi made this', but also inscribed on the other side of the nakago, with possibly with the name of the samurai it was made for, but we are having trouble translating it at present. Absolutely perfect for re-fitting in traditional antique samurai mounts [koshirae] to create a bespoke sword for its new owner to appear just as it once looked 150 years ago. Very beautiful hamon and polish, with just a few aged pit marks [see photos]. This work we specialise in, and are very happy to undertake if required. Its cost would likely be in the region of £1500 [depending on the quality of fushigashira and tsuba required]. We can just create a bespoke shirasaya [traditional storage mount in handmade carved Japanese wood] for around £350. Total length 34inches, 26 inch long cutting edge.
A Good Pair of Edo Period Samurai Suneate [Leg Armours] Made and used in the Edo period during 1598 to 1863. Suneate, shin guards made from iron splints connected together by chain armour (kusari) and sewn to cloth and tied around the calf. Japanese armour was generally constructed from many small iron (tetsu) and/or leather (nerigawa) scales (kozane) and/or plates (ita-mono), connected to each other by rivets and macramé cords (odoshi) made from leather and/or braided silk, and/or chain armour (kusari). Noble families had silk cords made in specific patterns and colours of silk thread. Many of these cords were constructed of well over 100 strands of silk. Making these special silk cords could take many months of steady work, just to complete enough for one suit of armour. These armour plates were usually attached to a cloth or leather backing. Japanese armour was designed to be as lightweight as possible as the samurai had many tasks including riding a horse and archery in addition to swordsmanship. The armour was usually brightly lacquered to protect against the harsh Japanese climate. Chain armour (kusari) was also used to construct individual armour pieces and full suits of kusari were even used
A Good Shinto Aikuchi Tanto Samurai Dagger with a Fine Blade The blade has a fine Hamon with a full, back edge temper, and a running itami grain Hada. With giant rayskin bound hilt and black speckled dark red lacquer saya. Pony kodsuka, black horn fittings. Shinto period circa 1620. Tanto first began to appear in the Heian period, however these blades lacked artistic qualities and were purely weapons. In the Early Kamakura period high quality tanto with artistic qualities began to appear, and the famous Yoshimitsu (the greatest tanto maker in Japanese history) began his forging. Tanto production increased greatly around the Muromachi period and then dropped off in the Shinto period. Shinto period tanto are quite rare. Tanto were mostly carried by Samurai; commoners did not generally carry them. Women sometimes carried a small tanto called a kaiken in their obi for self defence.It was sometimes worn as the shoto in place of a wakizashi in a daisho, especially on the battlefield. Before the 16th century it was common for a Samurai to carry a tachi and a tanto as opposed to a katana and a wakizashi.
A Good Shinto Katana Signed Bushu Ju Kanenaga Circa 1670 With a most unusual figure within the saya-jiri of an onin faced dragon, Ryugin. All the fittings are Higo, with gold, and represent dragon and wind, but the onin demon faced dragon like creature Ryugin is most rare. A wonderful hamon of nice undulations.. All original Edo fittings and red lacquer saya, and tsuka with original Edo silk binding. Fine gold decorated menuki of a samurai tachi [sword] with a kabuto [helmet]. Bushu Ju Fujiwara Kanenaga is a swordsmith of Musashi province. He moved to Kanda (Chiyoda-ku Tokyo). And also he moved Mutsu province. Ryujin or Ryojin [ "dragon god"], which in some traditions is equivalent to Owatatsumi, was the tutelary deity of the sea in Japanese mythology. This Japanese dragon symbolized the power of the ocean, had a large mouth, and was able to transform into a human shape. Ryujin lived in Ryugu-jo, his palace under the sea built out of red and white coral, from where he controlled the tides with magical tide jewels. Sea turtles, fish and jellyfish are often depicted as Ryujin's servants. Ryujin was the father of the beautiful goddess Otohime who married the hunter prince Hoori. The first Emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu, is said to have been a grandson of Otohime and Hoori's. Thus, Ryujin is said to be one of the ancestors of the Japanese imperial dynasty. The black ito hilt wrap has just been beautifully replaced with Japanese silk ito and looks superb
A Great Shinto Long Battle Katana Signed Bunjo Takata ju Fujiwara Teruyuki A fabulous samurai sword bearing the clan mon of the Ogasawara clan from the time of the great Daimyo lord Ogasawara Tadazane. Superb Higo hilt mounts [fushigashira] and clan mon Tsuba of the Ogasawara. Made circa 1650. In stunning condition with bergundy colour ishime stone finish lacquered saya, with an iron saya jire [bottom mount]. Gold silk hilt ito [wrap] over bronze vajira [Buddhist lightning bolt weapons]. Clan mon tsuba of the matsukawa-bishi. The Ogasawara clan that particularly used both the pine bark Matsukawa-bishi and the Three-tiered Sandan-bishi. The san-dan starts with a large bottom layer and grows smaller to the top. The Matsukawa has the largest layer in the centre, and is said to represent the way pine bark actually looks. The Ogasawara clan (Ogasawara-shi) was a Japanese samurai clan descended from the Seiwa Genji. The Ogasawara acted as shugo (governors) of Shinano Province in the medieval period (c. 1185–1600), and as daimyo (feudal lords) of territories on Kyushu during the Edo period (1600–1867). During the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, the clan controlled Shinano province, while related clans controlled the provinces of Awa, Bizen, Bitchu, Iwami, Mikawa, Totomi and Mutsu. According to some theories, the Miyoshi clan and the Mizukami clan were descendants of the Ogasawara clan. The clan developed a number of schools of martial arts during this period, known as Ogasawara-ryu, and contributed to the codification of bushido etiquette. Towards the end of the Sengoku period (late 16th century), the clan opposed both Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. During the Edo period, the Ogasawara were identified as one of the fudai or insider daimyo clans which were hereditary vassals or allies of the Tokugawa. Tadazane was the son of Ogasawara Hidemasa (1569–1615) with Toku-hime, daughter of Matsudaira Nobuyasu and granddaughter of Tokugawa Ieyasu. He married Kamehime daughter of Honda Tadamasa and adopted daughter of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Following the deaths of his father and elder brother in the Osaka Summer Campaign, his holdings were transferred from Akashi Domain (100,000 koku) in Harima Province to the Kokura domain (150,000 koku) Buzen Province. Famed as the lord who employed the famed Miyamoto Musashi's adopted son Iori, Tadazane took part in the Shogunate's campaign to quell the Shimabara Rebellion, where the Kokura forces assisted in the execution of survivors of the rebel force, predominantly Christians. Tadazane's son Tadataka succeeded him. Other children included Nagayasu, Naganobu, Sanekata, and three daughters (one of them adopted from the Hachisuka clan of Tokushima-han). Very long 28.5 inch blade [measured from tsuba to tip]. Overall 38.5 inches long in saya. We acquired it with a very fine tanto from the same Ogasawara clan, also with their clan mon on its fittings [stock number 22738]
A Japanese Edo Period Armour Sleeve And Gauntlet In Japanese called the kote and tekko. A single one piece Kote, armoured glove like sleeve which extends to the shoulder, then down to the kusari lined han kote, which covers the forearm and hand. Ideal for framing for a unique interior décor display or as an original piece oif original samurai warfare history. Kote were made from cloth covered with iron plates of various size and shape, connected by chain armour (kusari). Japanese armour is thought to have evolved from the armour used in ancient China. Cuirasses and helmets were manufactured in Japan as early as the 4th century.Tanko, worn by foot soldiers and keiko, worn by horsemen were both pre-samurai types of early Japanese cuirass constructed from iron plates connected together by leather thongs. During the Heian period (794-1185), the Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or do. Japanese armour makers started to use leather (nerigawa) and lacquer was used to weather proof the armour parts. By the end of the Heian period the Japanese cuirass had arrived at the shape recognized as being distinctly samurai. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) which these cuirasses were now being made from. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours). Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered the so-called peaceful Edo period, but conflict remained through internecine and clan rivalry. Samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status and for extreme combat. During the Edo period light weight, portable and secret hidden armours became popular as there was still a need for personal protection. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, peasant revolts required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armour jacket) and armoured sleeves as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing. Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armour) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane). Armour continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji period) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armour happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion.
A Japanese Edo Period Lacquered Harikake Court Cap Form Helmet Naga-Eboshi A most beautiful Japanese black lacquered harikake helmet kabuto, for use on parades, purposefully made without neck defences. In the form of a courtier's hat (naga-eboshi), the peak, and rear band has intricate gold lacquered scrolling vine leaf foliage, and decorated with seven gilt metal religious cross mons with four ivy leaf terminals, fukigayeshi lacquered with the same mon of religious cross mon with four ivy leaf terminals, red lacquered interior, original red fabric lining and white padded straps. Kabuto are a type of helmet first used by samurai. Harikake kabuto used papier-mâché, or leather mixed with lacquer, to build the elaborate decoration. A picture in the gallery of a statue in Japan of Oda Nobunaga (1534-82) who was the first of Japan’s three great unifiers at the end of the Sengoku (warring states). He is wearing this very form of cap while in full armour. Kabuto are often adorned with crests called datemono or tatemono; the four types of decorations were the maedate (frontal decoration), wakidate (side decorations), kashiradate (top decoration), and ushirodate (rear decoration). These can be family crests (mon), or flat or sculptural objects representing animals, mythical entities, prayers or other symbols. Horns are particularly common, and many kabuto incorporate kuwagata, stylized deer horns. This helmet has a maedate hook with which the samurai could mount his family mon maedate. The left side facing fukegaeshi with clan mon [front temple winged ear] has a bend that cannot be unbent due to its lacquered hide material of construction with areas of lacquer loss. Some bottom section rim edging throughout is now exposed. All its small lacquer imperfections are due to its age, and ideally should be left just as is. The upper helmet bowl's lacquer is excellent overall.
A Japanese Edo Period Processional or Ceremonial Pole Arm Yari Set on a very good mother o'pearl decorated haft. With a over lacquered blade cover. A yari on it's pole can range in length from one metre to upwards of six metres (almost 20 feet). The longer hafted versions were called omi no yari while shorter ones were known as mochi yari or tae yari. The longest hafted versions were carried by foot troops (ashigaru), while samurai usually carried a shorter hafted yari. Yari are believed to have been derived from Chinese spears, and while they were present in early Japan's history they did not become popular until the thirteenth century. The original warfare of the bushi was not a thing for "commoners"; it was a ritualized combat usually between two warriors who may challenge each other via horseback archery and sword duels. However, the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 changed Japanese weaponry and warfare. The Mongol-employed Chinese and Korean footmen wielded long pikes, fought in tight formation, and moved in large units to stave off cavalry. Polearms (including naginata and yari) were of much greater military use than swords, due to their much greater range, their lesser weight per unit length (though overall a polearm would be fairly hefty), and their great piercing ability. Swords in a full battle situation were therefore relegated to emergency sidearm status from the Heian through the Muromachi periods. Ceremonial yari were used for parades of Daimyo travelling through regions or traditional public ceremonies in the Edo era. MOP losses to haft.
A Japanese, Silk, WW2 Framed 'Meatball' Flag. War Souvenir. From the Pacific War. The flag has perished around all the edges. It has recently been framed by the previous owner at great expense, but, it's size and weight requires the buyer to collect, framed, or, we can sell it unframed. Delivery charge is quoted on this webshop for 'sold as-is', unframed. Flag 27 inches x 30 inches, including the frame it is 32 inches x 41 inches. The frame, apparently, cost more than we are asking for the flag, [sold either framed or unframed for the same price] but it is free, if the buyer collects both together.
A Koto Aikuchi Tanto 500 to 600 Years Old With Clan Mon. With deeply ridge red lacquer saya horn fittings and menuki forming it's mekugi decorated with pure gold clan Gosan kirimon of powlonia. The blade is very attractive and around 500 to 600 years old. It's kodzuka is most rare, in that it's hilt is a representation of a formed samurai sword's tang with it's signature with the large chrysanthemum mon. This is a rare and very desireable type of kodzuka. The tanto is commonly referred to as a knife or dagger. The blade can be single or double edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi. The blade is beautiful and remarkable for it's great age.
A Koto Era Samurai Katana Sword Guard Tsuba, Circa 1500 In iron with inlaid clan mon in brass, depicting many swastika symbols. An most interesting and ancient piece of Samurai history. Although today, we look at brass as an inexpensive and common metal. In ancient times, brass was highly prized until the technology of mass-producing it was invented. The yellow colour of brass resembles gold but brass is much harder and more durable. Before its use on tsuba, brass was often used to make Buddhist altar ornaments and religious objects. at the time of its creation, brass was considered more precious than gold. The tsuba is the hand guard of a Japanese sword. It served several purposes. The tsuba balanced the sword. And it protected the hand of the sword holder from an attack by an enemy as well as from gliding into the sword blade. The third purpose was a more refined one. The Japanese tsuba developed into a kind of a status symbol for the sword owner.
A Koto Muramachi Yoroi Doshi [Armour or Helmet Piercing] Tanto, Circa 1530 A very thick bladed tanto specifically designed to penetrate using a powerful thrust, either samurai armour or even a helmet. Wide narrow straight sided blade, with a narrow suguha hamon typical of the Koto era. Mounted in a plain wooden shirasaya mount that bears some kanji text on both sides of the tsuka. We have not had this translated yet. The bottom of the saya bears a carved image of a stern face. The yoroi-doshi "armour piercer" or "mail piercer" were one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihonto) that were worn by the samurai class as a weapon in feudal Japan. The yoroi-d?shi is an extra thick tanto, a long knife, which appeared in the Sengoku period (late Muromachi). The yoroi-doshi was made for piercing armour and for stabbing while grappling in close quarters. The weapon ranged in size from 20 cm to 24 cm, but some examples could be under 15 cm, with a "tapering mihaba, iori-mune, thick kasane at the bottom, and thin kasane at the top and occasionally moroha-zukuri construction". The motogasane (blade thickness) at the hamachi (the notch at the beginning of the cutting edge) can be up to a half-inch thick, which is characteristic of the yoroi-doshi. The extra thickness at the spine of the blade distinguishes the yoroi-doshi from a standard tanto blade. Yoroi-doshi were worn inside the belt on the back or on the right side with the hilt toward the front and the edge upward. Due to being worn on the right, the blade would have been drawn using the left hand, giving rise to the alternate name of metezashi or "horse-hand (i.e. rein-hand, i.e. left-hand) blade". This blade is 24cm long, 8mm thick at the hamachi. Last Edo polish likely from around 200 years past.
A Koto Period O-Sukashi Katana Tsuba Circa 1550. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Koto to Shinto Period Katana Tsuba In Iron Pierced With Stylized Birds The piercing has been outlined with a borderline of inlaid brass. Circa 1600. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Koto Wakazashi Tsuba of Double Lobed Form in Iron With traces of gold wire inlay. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Large Edo Period Iron Plate Mokko Tsuba With Chiselled Willow Tree Beautifully chisseled. For a sizeable katana. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Most Attractive Ancient Koto Period O-Tanto [Large Dagger] Muramachi period made from 1392 to 1573. Wide O-Tanto blade with wide fuller to one sde and bo-hi on the alternate side. Clear hamon temper line with small combat impact dent to one side. Copper and silver inlaid original Edo period fushi kashira and pierced iron tsuba. Copper and gilt menuki under the original Edo silk binding over ginat rayskin. Original Edo period ishime brown stone lacquer to the saya.The tanto was invented partway through the Heian period. With the beginning of the Kamakura period, tanto were forged to be more aesthetically pleasing, and hira and uchi-sori tanto becoming the most popular styles. Near the middle of the Kamakura period, more tanto artisans were seen, increasing the abundance of the weapon, and the kanmuri-otoshi style became prevalent in the cities of Kyoto and Yamato. Because of the style introduced by the tachi in the late Kamakura period, tanto began to be forged longer and wider. The introduction of the Hachiman faith became visible in the carvings in the hilts around this time. The hamon (line of temper) is similar to that of the tachi, except for the absence of choji-midare, which is nioi and utsuri. Gunomi-midare and suguha are found to have taken its place. During the era of the Northern and Southern Courts, the tanto were forged to be up to forty centimetres as opposed to the normal one shaku (about thirty centimetres) length. The blades became thinner between the uri and the omote, and wider between the ha and mune. At this point in time, two styles of hamon were prevalent: the older style, which was subtle and artistic, and the newer, more popular style. With the beginning of the Muromachi period, constant fighting caused the greater production of blades. Blades that were custom-forged still were of exceptional quality. As the end of the period neared, the average blade narrowed and the curvature shallowed
A Most Attractive Shin Shinto Japanese Carved Bone Tanto Dagger Blade very nicely polished. Carving of very nice quality depicting samurai in combat, various figures and shishi lion dogs. Shishi (or Jishi) is translated as “lion” but it can also refer to a deer or dog with magical properties and the power to repel evil spirits. A pair of shishi traditionally stand guard outside the gates of Japanese Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, although temples are more often guarded by two Nio protectors. The Shishi (like the Nio) are traditionally depicted in pairs, one with mouth open and one with mouth shut. The opened/closed mouth relates to Ah (open mouth) and Un (closed mouth). “Ah” is the first sound in the Japanese alphabet, while “N” (pronounced “un”) is the last. These two sounds symbolize beginning and end, birth and death, and all possible outcomes (from alpha to omega) in the cosmic dance of existence. The first letter in Sanskrit is “Ah” as well, but the last is “Ha.” Nonetheless, the first and last sounds produced by the mouth are “Ah” and “M.” The Sanskrit “m” and the Japanese “n” sound exactly the same when hummed with mouth closed. The spiritual Sanskrit terms AHAM and AUM thus encapsulate the first letter-sound (mouth open) and the final sound (mouth closed). Others say the open mouth is to scare off demons, and the closed mouth to shelter and keep in the good spirits. The circular object often shown beneath their feet is the Tama, or sacred Buddhist jewel, a symbol of Buddhist wisdom that brings light to darkness and holds the power to grant wishes. Mounted in the late Meiji to Taisho period as a most decorative dagger, representative of the legendary samurai. Of course this was not a traditional sword wearing mount, but when Japan was opening up to the world, after being a closed feudal society for almost 400 years, swords such as these were most popular with visitors from Europe from the earliest steamship trade. They were also given as gifts for presentation
A Most Attractive Shinto Wakazashi With Gold Decorated Mounts Gold flake nishiji lacquer saya with polished buffalo horn fittings. Patinated copper tsuba with gilt highlights. Signed blade Hosho Takada ju Fujiwara Yukinaga. Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set. Kanzan Sato, in his book titled "The Japanese Sword", notes that the wakizashi may have become more popular than the tanto due to the wakizashi being more suited for indoor fighting. He mentions the custom of leaving the katana at the door of a castle or palace when entering while continuing to wear the wakizashi inside. Wakizashi were worn on the left side, secured to the obi [waist sash].
A Most Attractive Tanto By Tosa Choson, Master Smith, Horimono Dragon Blade Shinshinto period aikuchi tanto. Now re-polished and looking fabulous. Tokugawa mon represented throughout the fittings. Circa 1822 [Hawley CHO 16, 30 points]. Tosa Choson was one of the great 19th century sword smiths and this is a fine example of his work, with stunning grain in the blade's hada.. Decorated with a dragon chasing the pearl of wisdom carved horimono to one side of the blade, and prunus tree and a Buddhist bonji to the other. He tanto is commonly referred to as a knife or dagger. The blade can be single or double edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi. Overall 19 inches long.
A Most Beautiful Kamakura Tanto Around 700 Years Old Circa 1320 An ancient blade around 700 years old. With a very nice and typical, early narrow hamon to the fabulously ancient blade probably Yamato tradition. Amazing to see that this wonderful samurai dagger is around 700 years old and looks almost as good as as it did when new. With very fine all original Edo period patinated copper mounts over-laid with pure gold and silver on a hand punched nanako ground, all following the theme of exotic birds, flowering trees and a turtle, and a pure gold pheonix onlaid onto its kodsuke [utility knife set in the saya pocket]. The extended length saya is uniformly deep ridged ribbing with a pale amber golden lacquer. The saya has a silver kurigata of turbulant water and the saya was deliberately longer than the blade to give the appearance that a longer blade is contained within it. This has an advantage of enabling a quicker withdraweral from the saya than it's appearance belies, and would be expected by an adversary. An Edo iron tsuba inlaid with gold flowers and butterflies. It has it's last original gold Edo wrap [ito] that shows age and areas of small discolouration. It could of course be replaced by us with new, Japanese, gold silk wrap, as might be preferred. Yamato tradition blades have their origins that lies in the province of Yamato, which for the Nara period, was regarded as the center of Japanese culture. The province is located south of Kyoto in the region of Kinai ( "Heart of the Capital area"). The city of Heijo-kyo (now Nara ) in the province of Yamato was then the capital of the Japanese Empire, so that it was here that many sword smiths settled. According to legend, thus came from the first Japanese sword forging of Amakuni and Amakura, the Yamato tradition. Ascribed to them is the Kogarasu Maru sword, which is probably the best known example of Yamato sword making. With the transfer of the capital to Heian-kyo (now Kyoto ) in 794, many swordsmiths left the province. Around the year 1200 the area around Nara, increasingly bellicose religious sects were formed, so that the demand for swords increased. In the course of that, thus more sword smiths were active in that state again, to meet the needs of the armed warrior monks and samurai. For this reason, temple names for the different schools were mostly used, for example there was the Tegai-School named after the gate of the temple Tegai-mon -ji Todai . 55.5 cm long overall, 25.5 cm blade tsuba to tip.
A Most Beautiful O-Tanto Signed Kanenori Circa 1530 With double hi [Bo-hi] on the omote and a single wide hi on the obverse side, and traces of a carved horimono of a Buddhist bonji, and an irregular gunome hamon. A simply beautiful and most rare form of original Edo period black lacquer saya, with twin side scooped panels decorated with crushed abilone shell. Pale green silk ito and jolly nice fittings including a very fine quality carved kashira decorated with engraved ponies. The tsuba ia square form with a very wide mimi [rim] in rope pattern. This is a delightful and large tanto of much beauty. Very nice kodzuka decorated with gold, and featuring mount Fuji with fisherman on its coastline. 24.5 inches length overall, blade length 13.5 inches long tsuba to tip
A Most Beautiful Samurai Aikuchi O-Tanto With Iris Leaf Shaped Blade Rarely seen now, the Iris leaf shape, was popular for Wakazashi and Tanto in the Muromachi era [1342-1573] and this beautiful blade, likely of some 400 to 500 years of age, is very nearly Moroha Zukuri [double edged] with a barely perceptible mune. With a stunning saya covered with a panel of embossed leather brought to Japan by Portuguese traders in the 16th century. Kebori linear carved kashira depicting the meandering up and down the hill path to the mountain. This may represent a famous saying concerning Bushido, that was oft repeated by Musashi, one of the most famous samurai of all time, "there is always more than one path to the top of the mountain" . Beautiful panels of embossed leather were imported to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century and was highly prized as screens and other decorative works of art. They were oft decorated with flower and leaf designs just as this piece. The giant rayskin [same; pronounced sarmay] bound tsuka is fitted with twin pairs of gold takebori Japanese partridge menuki, executed in great detail. We have also seen, although most rarely, other items decorated with this distinctive leatherwork such as samurai purses.
A Most Beautiful Shinto Samurai Tanto Blade In Shira Saya Superb original Edo polish armour piercing sword blade circa 1650. Hira-zukuri koshi-zori form, in full polish, omokumi hada [blade grain pattern], midare based on notare hamon [temper line] in shirasaya [plain all wooden mounting]. mumei tang. Tant? are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi. Tanto first began to appear in the Heian period, however these blades lacked artistic qualities and were purely weapons. In the Early Kamakura period high quality tanto with artistic qualities began to appear, and the famous Yoshimitsu (the greatest tanto maker in Japanese history) began his forging. Tanto production increased greatly around the Muromachi period and then dropped off in the Shinto period. Shinto period tanto are quite rare. Tanto were mostly carried by Samurai; commoners did not generally carry them. Women sometimes carried a small tanto called a kaiken in their obi for self defence.It was sometimes worn as the shoto in place of a wakizashi in a daisho, especially on the battlefield. Before the 16th century it was common for a Samurai to carry a tachi and a tanto as opposed to a katana and a wakizashi. 19 inches long in shira saya, cutting edge of the blade length 11.25 inches.
A Most Beautiful Signed Samurai Tachi, Tokugawa Mon Late Edo Shinshinto A super tachi with several mon decorated within the lacquer on the saya of the Tokugawa clan. Tachi were by tradition in the late Edo era worn by the clan Daimyo. The green doeskin obi tori have also two Tokugawa mon placques. The signed blade is in full original polish and horimono engraved with a dragon. The Edo tsuba is decoarted with a hawk preying on a hare. Following the Sengoku Period of "warring states", central government had been largely reestablished by Oda Nobunaga during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. After the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, central authority fell to Tokugawa Ieyasu. Society in the Tokugawa period, unlike the shogunates before it, was supposedly based on the strict class hierarchy originally established by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The daimyo, or lords, were at the top, followed by the warrior-caste of samurai, with the farmers, artisans, and traders ranking below. In some parts of the country, particularly smaller regions, daimyo and samurai were more or less identical, since daimyo might be trained as samurai, and samurai might act as local rulers. Otherwise, the largely inflexible nature of this social stratification system unleashed disruptive forces over time. Taxes on the peasantry were set at fixed amounts which did not account for inflation or other changes in monetary value. As a result, the tax revenues collected by the samurai landowners were worth less and less over time. This often led to numerous confrontations between noble but impoverished samurai and well-to-do peasants, ranging from simple local disturbances to much bigger rebellions. None, however, proved compelling enough to seriously challenge the established order until the arrival of foreign powers. Toward the end of the 19th century, an alliance of several of the more powerful daimyo, along with the titular Emperor, finally succeeded in the overthrow of the shogunate after the Boshin War, culminating in the Meiji Restoration. The Tokugawa Shogunate came to an official end in 1868, with the resignation of the 15th Tokugawa Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu and the "restoration" (Osei fukko) of imperial rule. 40.5 inches long overall in saya, blade inches long tsuba to tip. Signed, but as yet untranslated
A Most Charming Oval Tanto Tettsu Tsuba Inlaid With Gold Oval mokko shape intricately inlaid with delicate gold flower heads and leaves, with an open Kodzuke Hitsu-ana. Mid Edo era. The tsuba is the hand guard of a Japanese sword. It served several purposes. The tsuba balanced the sword. And it protected the hand of the sword holder from an attack by an enemy as well as from gliding into the sword blade. The third purpose was a more refined one. The Japanese tsuba developed into a kind of a status symbol for the sword owner. 5.4 x 4cm
A Most Elegant Shinto Katana With Kiri Clan Mon by Mutsu Aizu Ju Masanaga. With Toyotomi Hideyoshi's clan mon. Circa 1650, with every han dachi mount embellished with a gold Kiri mon. With beautiful bright polish blade showing a stunning undulating notare hamon. It is the Kamon [samurai clan symbol] of paulownia tomentosa. Originally, this design was one of two Emperor's Kamon (the existing Imperial Kamon is the chrysanthemum (Kiku mon) only). This design was given to the Shogun and Toyotomi Hideyoshi from the Emperor. This chisa katana sword has a blade with a spectacular deep hamon. The original Edo lacquer on the saya is most rare in that it is in a longitudal separated pattern of smooth and rippled black. A list of Wazamono is a list of 228 fine swordsmiths (or 180 depending on the method of counting) of katana and other weapons in the book Kaiho kenjaku, released in 1815 by Yamada Asaemon. (Yamada Asaemon V was one among a direct line of official sword testers for the bakufu during the Edo Period, every generation of whom inherited that name). The work lists 12 saijo owazamono ( "supreme sharpness swords"), 21 owazamono ( "great sharpness swords"), 50 ryowazamono ( "good sharp swords"), 80 wazamono (wazamono, "sharp swords"), and 60 (65) maked with mixed levels of sharpness. In this reference work Masanaga was graded Ryowazamono. Toyotomi Hideyoshi was granted this swords clan mon when he was a preeminent daimyo, warrior, general, samurai, and politician of the Sengoku period who is regarded as Japan's second "great unifier". He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and in many respects brought an end to the Warring States period. The period of his rule is often called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi's castle. After his death, his young son Hideyori was displaced by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Hideyoshi is noted for a number of cultural legacies, including the restriction that only members of the samurai class could bear arms. He financed the construction, restoration and rebuilding of many temples standing today in Kyoto. Hideyoshi played an important role in the history of Christianity in Japan when he ordered the execution by crucifixion of twenty-six Christians. Like Nobunaga before him, Hideyoshi never achieved the title of shogun. Instead, he arranged to have himself adopted into the Fujiwara clan, and secured a succession of high court titles including, in 1585, the prestigious position of Imperial Regent (kampaku). In 1586, Hideyoshi was formally given the name Toyotomi by the imperial court. He built a lavish palace, the Jurakudai, in 1587 and entertained the reigning emperor, Go-Yozei, the following year 21.75 inch blade,36 inches long approx overall in saya
A Most Fine & Beautiful Katana Signed Sukesada of Bizen Dated 1560 Signed Bizen kuni ju Osafune Sukesada. One of the Sukesada, Bizen smiths. A very nice Koto blade, that has seen battle, with fine mounts and, most unusually, a very interestingly, embossed leather bound tsuka, with cloisonné enamel menuki. Embossed leather was imported to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century and was highly prized as screens and other decorative works of art. We have also seen, although most rarely, other items decorated with this distinctive leatherwork such as samurai purses and saya coverings. The embossing on the leather are various insects, highly popular in samurai fittings décor. The fushi tsuka mount is very fine, signed by the maker, and decorated with flowers and gold buds. Harima, Mimasaka and Bizen provinces were prospering under the protection of the Akamatsu family. Above all, Bizen province turned out a great many talented swordsmiths. A large number of swords were made there in the late Muromachi period not only supplying the demand of the Age of Provincial Wars in Japan but also as an important exporting item to the Ming dynasty in China. At the onset of the decline of the Ashikaga shogunate in 1565 ad., and Yoshiteru's assassination the shogunate of Yoshiteru was filled by his two-year old son, Yoshiaki. Yoshiteru's brother was the abbot of a Buddhist monastery. He resigned this position and attempted to assume the shogunate. These efforts ultimately failed. The demand for swords began an accent to unimaginable levels. The national unrest and violent civil war did not cease until the successful takeover of the shogunate by Tokugawa Iyeyasu. The "Osafune - Kozori" group was the major supplier of blades for these events. 29 inch blade Tsuba to tip. On just one side of the blade there are combat stress hagire marks near the top section. This blade has certainly seen combat, and is simply ideal for the historical collector of beautiful samurai weaponry of battle, rather than those seeking blade condition perfection. 40 inches long approx overall in saya
A Most Impressive & Large Samurai Dragon Tanto from the 1300's Mounted in a Meiji period carved wooden takebori dragon mount. A stunning almost 700 year old blade in superb condition, that has seen service in combat by anything up to 35 samurai down the generations, and then last mounted with this amazing fully carved dragon saya and tsuka. Late mounted in the 19th century such finely attractive pieces were incredibly popular with the newly arrived English visitors, that had been brought to Japan after its new opening to the modern world by the pro Western Meiji Emperor in the 1870's, after the transition of Japan from the feudal Edo Shogunate era. Until the Meiji period Japan had been a closed society for hundreds of years. English visitors were brought by steamships to Japan for the first ever time in history, by, such as, the early Thomas Cook's Worldwide Excursions. They first arrived in the Victorian era just after the 1877 samurai rebellion, and the samurai's subsequent defeat by the Emperor's new modern army. This dagger's dragon fittings are stunningly and traditionally executed, in typical Japanese fine detail, in finest carved wood with superbly aged patination. It attracted the English due to the West's fascination with all things Japanese, and most importantly the legendary samurai and their famous weaponry, and the Japanese dragon folklore. It was during this period, lasting for around 10 years, that almost all the original antique Samurai swords, that survive today in the West, came to England from Japan, mostly as esteemed gifts to prolific English engineers and traders, commissioned by the Emperor to help industrialise and modernise Japan, in order to assist it to join the West's modern industrial world. However, this tanto was fitted with a very fine ancient blade so it was a very serious quality piece possibly specifically made for an important dignitary as an esteemed gift for presentation. 25 inches long overall, blade 16 1/4 inches long incl habaki. The blade is in very good condition for its age
A Most Intriguing Carved Wooden Imprisoned Sino-Mongol Figure, An Okimono A charmingly carved wooden okimono of a Chinese or Mongol male in manacled wooden torture stocks. Possibly representing one of the Chinese invaders that tried unsucessfully to invade Japan. The kind of tortuous affair that was usually unique to the far east in ancient times. In fact the legendary Genghis Khan was imprisoned in such a terrible device when he was captured by another mongol leader as a youth before he grew into becoming the world greatest conquerer.The Mongol invasions of Japan of 1274 and 1281 were major military efforts undertaken by Kublai Khan to conquer the Japanese islands after the submission of Goryeo (Korea) to vassaldom. Ultimately a failure, the invasion attempts are of macrohistorical importance because they set a limit on Mongol expansion and rank as nation-defining events in Japanese history. The Mongol invasions are an early example of gunpowder warfare. One of the most notable technological innovations during the war was the use of explosive hand thrown bombs. The invasions are referred to in many works of fiction, and are the earliest events for which the word kamikaze, or "divine wind", is widely used (in this instance in reference to the storms faced by the Mongolian fleets). Prior to the American occupation of Japan at the end of World War II, these failed invasion attempts were the closest Japan had come to being conquered by a foreign power in the last 1,500 years. Very nicely carved and signed. Right foot a little chipped. 2.5 x 1.25 x 2 inches
A Most Scarce Samurai Commander's Saihai, A Samurai Army Signaller Edo period. For a commander to signal troop movements to his samurai army in battle. A Saihai usually consisted of a lacquered wood stick with metal ends. The butt had a hole for a cord for the saihai to be hung from the armour of the samurai commander when not being used. The head of the saihai had a hole with a cord attached to a tassel of strips of lacquered paper, leather, cloth or yak hair, rarest of all were metal strips. We show the lord Uesugi Kenshin hold his in an antique woodblock print in the gallery. The saihai first came into use during the 1570s and the 1590s between the Genki and Tensho year periods. Large troop movements and improved and varied tactics required commanders in the rear to be able to signal their troops during a battle Uesugi Kenshin (February 18, 1530 – April 19, 1578) was a daimyo who was born as Nagao Kagetora, and after the adoption into the Uesugi clan, ruled Echigo Province in the Sengoku period of Japan. He was one of the most powerful daimy?s of the Sengoku period. While chiefly remembered for his prowess on the battlefield, Kenshin is also regarded as an extremely skillful administrator who fostered the growth of local industries and trade; his rule saw a marked rise in the standard of living of Echigo. Kenshin is famed for his honourable conduct, his military expertise, a long-standing rivalry with Takeda Shingen, his numerous campaigns to restore order in the Kanto region as the Kanto Kanrei, and his belief in the Buddhist god of war—Bishamonten. In fact, many of his followers and others believed him to be the Avatar of Bishamonten, and called Kenshin "God of War".
A Most Scarce Samurai Commander's Saihai, A Samurai Army Signaller Edo period. Lacquered wooden handle with metal mounts and a long yak hair fitting. For a commander to signal troop movements to his samurai army in battle. A Saihai usually consisted of a lacquered wood stick with metal ends. The butt had a hole for a cord for the saihai to be hung from the armour of the samurai commander when not being used. The head of the saihai had a hole with a cord attached to a tassel of strips of lacquered paper, leather, cloth or yak hair, rarest of all were metal strips. We show the lord Uesugi Kenshin hold his in an antique woodblock print in the gallery. The saihai first came into use during the 1570s and the 1590s between the Genki and Tensho year periods. Large troop movements and improved and varied tactics required commanders in the rear to be able to signal their troops during a battle Uesugi Kenshin (February 18, 1530 – April 19, 1578) was a daimyo who was born as Nagao Kagetora, and after the adoption into the Uesugi clan, ruled Echigo Province in the Sengoku period of Japan. He was one of the most powerful daimyos of the Sengoku period. While chiefly remembered for his prowess on the battlefield, Kenshin is also regarded as an extremely skillful administrator who fostered the growth of local industries and trade; his rule saw a marked rise in the standard of living of Echigo. Kenshin is famed for his honourable conduct, his military expertise, a long-standing rivalry with Takeda Shingen, his numerous campaigns to restore order in the Kanto region as the Kanto Kanrei, and his belief in the Buddhist god of war—Bishamonten. In fact, many of his followers and others believed him to be the Avatar of Bishamonten, and called Kenshin "God of War".
A Most Unusual Edo Period Katana Tsuba, With Rotational Fitting An iron sukashi tsuba, cut with four symbols, and two north and west facing blade apertures to enable the rotation of the tsuba mounting onto the blade. The tsuba is usually a round, ovoid or occasionally squarish guard at the end of the tsuka of bladed Japanese weapons, like the katana and its various declinations, tachi, wakizashi, tanto, naginata etc. They contribute to the balance of the weapon and to the protection of the hand. The tsuba was mostly meant to be used to prevent the hand from sliding onto the blade during thrusts as opposed to protecting from an opponent's blade. The chudan no kamae guard is determined by the tsuba and the curvature of the blade. The diameter of the average katana tsuba is 7.5–8 centimetres (3.0–3.1 in), wakizashi tsuba is 6.2–6.6 cm (2.4–2.6 in), and tanto tsuba is 4.5–6 cm (1.8–2.4 in). During the Muromachi period (1333–1573) and the Momoyama period (1573–1603) Tsuba were more for functionality than for decoration, being made of stronger metals and designs. During the Edo period (1603–1868) tsuba became more ornamental and made of less practical metals such as gold. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Most Unusual Edo Period Samurai Fire-Hook Tobikuchi Haft decorated with fine quality abilone and lacquer with copper bands and traditional knotted string bound base to the abilone inlay. With its original black wrist cord [see last photo] A single hand held piece that is the size and quality to designate its use by a leader of a samurai fire detachment, used to instruct his junior samurai where to concentrate their efforts in a blaze, in the same way a daimyo lord uses a war fan to direct his troops in battle, or a musical conductor conducts an orchestra. Samurai wore fire costume, Kaji shozoku when their domains or castle were ablaze. The firehook or tobikuchi was designed to pull down burning materials on buildings. Fires in Edo, the former name of Tokyo, during the Edo period (1600 - 1868) of Japan were so frequent that the city of Edo was characterized as the saying "Fires and quarrels are the flowers of Edo" goes. Even in the modern days, the old Edo was still remembered as the "City of Fires". Edo was something of a rarity in the world, as vast urban areas of the city were repeatedly leveled by fire. The great fires of Edo were compared to the Chinese gods of fire Shukuyu and Kairoku, and also humorously described as "autumn leaves". During the 267 years between 1601, the year after the Battle of Sekigahara and 1867, the year of Taisei Hokan ( "return of sovereignty"), Edo was struck by 49 great fires. In comparison, during the same period, great fires in Kyoto, Osaka and Kanazawa totaled only nine, six, and three, respectively, which made Edo's figure stand out from the other metropolises in Japan.According to other accounts, there were more than 85 major fires during the history of Edo. Between 1600 and 1945, Edo/Tokyo was leveled every 25–50 years or so by fire, earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, and war. During March 2–3, 1657 in the Great Fire of Meireki Up to 107,000 people died, compare that to the Great Fire of London in 1666, where 70,000 homes were destroyed, yet only 6 people were confirmed to have perished.
A Most Unusual Samurai Kabuto Maedate Fitting, Form of An Ancient Weight A Shinodari inscribed in old Chinese kanji, Jyu Ryo which means 10 x 37.8 grams [ie 378 grams] in western weight equivalent. Although this weighs 404 grams as it has the addition of a maedate fitting at the rear. Shinodari can come in many forms, faces of demons, circular discs rings, animal faces, insects, octopus, and even crustaceans such as lobster or crabs. Kabuto [samurai helmets] were often adorned with crests called datemono or tatemono; the four types of decorations were the maedate (frontal decoration), wakidate (side decorations), kashiradate (top decoration), and ushirodate (rear decoration). This particular one is certainly a new one to us. It may represent a samurai who was involved in measuring certain supplies by weight, or a weight to measure gold currency payments with a scale.
A Most Unusually Mounted 600 Year Old Samurai Tanto A charming blade, probably 15th century. Nambam style fittings with stunning koshirae fully pierced detailing flying cranes and flowers. A super kodsuka in shakudo detailed with cranes. Signed blade to the kodzuka. The overall decoration is most unusual in that the lacquer, is convincingly simulating woodgrain, and is incredibly well executed. Tanto first began to appear in the Heian period, however these blades lacked artistic qualities and were purely weapons. In the Early Kamakura period high quality tanto with artistic qualities began to appear, and the famous Yoshimitsu (the greatest tanto maker in Japanese history) began his forging. Tanto production increased greatly around the Muromachi period and then dropped off in the Shinto period. Shinto period tanto are quite rare. Tanto were mostly carried by Samurai; commoners did not generally carry them. Women sometimes carried a small tanto called a kaiken in their obi for self defence.It was sometimes worn as the shoto in place of a wakizashi in a daisho, especially on the battlefield. Before the 16th century it was common for a Samurai to carry a tachi and a tanto as opposed to a katana and a wakizashi.
A Pair of Decorative Japanese Sword Placques Made from a full set of pre 1937 ShinGunto Officer sword fittings [complete with tsuka and 'bulls blood' red lacquered wooden saya] that have been cut in two, equally, from 'bow to stern' and mounted on two dark brown lacquered wooden panels. A very attractive, imaginative and most pleasing decorative effect has thus been achieved.
A Rare & Mighty Shinshinto Katana Bearing Maker and Owner's Name Inscribed Inscribed as follows; Made in Bunkyo August 1863, by Ryuginsai Hirotsuna, who made this sword in his 70th year for Yoshiyuki. It is most rare to see such inscriptions of Japanese swords and they are much prized as the sword effectively has its own built in provenence. A long large and mighty blade with higo style mounts and a very nice Shinto sukashi tsuba. The saya is its original Edo saya, with original lacquer in black and iron sayajiri. By the time Ieyasu Tokugawa unified Japan under his rule at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, only samurai were permitted to wear the sword. A samurai was recognized by his carrying the feared daisho, the ‘big sword, little sword’ of the warrior. These were the battle katana, the ‘big sword,’ and the wakizashi, the ‘little sword.’ The name katana derives from two old Japanese written characters or symbols: kata, meaning’side,’ and na, or ‘edge.’ Thus a katana is a single-edged sword that has had few rivals in the annals of war, either in the East or the West. Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan’s knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai — a very real matter of life or death — that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: ‘The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated.’
A Rare and Collectable WW2 Japanese Officer's Shingunto Sword Hanger Very rare to survive the war as so few were taken from the Japanese officers by allied combatants on their surrender. Plaited leather with metal spring clasp and hook mount. Photo in the gallery of three surrendering Japanese officer's, each one still wearing their plaited leather sword belt hanger, none of which have been surrendered with the swords.
A Rare WW2 Imperial Japanese Aircraft Carrier Naval Pilot's Helmet Type II Made in fine brown leather with chamois lining and two maker labels. The Summer pattern, in excellent condition with original strap just lacking buckle. Most frequently used by the aircraft carrier fighter pilots in the A6M Zeros. Made and used in WW2 until the surrender of Japan in 1945. Photo in the gallery of Ace Masao Asai aboard the carrier Akagi The Aircraft the Akagi carried: 66 (+25 reserve) 21 Mitsubishi A6M Zero, 18 Aichi D3A, 27 Nakajima B5N (7 Dec 1941)[1] Service record Part of: First Air Fleet (Kido Butai) Commanders: Isoroku Yamamoto (1928–29) Ryunosuke Kusaka (1939–40) Kiichi Hasegawa (1941–42) Taijiro Aoki (1942) Operations: Second Sino-Japanese War World War II, Pacific War: Attack on Pearl Harbor Invasion of Rabaul Bombing of Darwin Invasion of Java Indian Ocean raid Battle of Midway Akagi was an aircraft carrier built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), named after Mount Akagi in present-day Gunma Prefecture. Though she was laid down as an Amagi-class battlecruiser, Akagi was converted to an aircraft carrier while still under construction to comply with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty. The ship was rebuilt from 1935 to 1938 with her original three flight decks consolidated into a single enlarged flight deck and an island superstructure. The second Japanese aircraft carrier to enter service, and the first large or "fleet" carrier, Akagi and the related Kaga figured prominently in the development of the IJN's new carrier striking force doctrine that grouped carriers together, concentrating their air power. This doctrine enabled Japan to attain its strategic goals during the early stages of the Pacific War from December 1941 until mid-1942. Akagi's aircraft served in the Second Sino-Japanese War in the late 1930s. Upon the formation of the First Air Fleet or Kido Butai (Striking Force) in early 1941, she became its flagship, and remained so for the duration of her service. With other fleet carriers, she took part in the Attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the invasion of Rabaul in the Southwest Pacific in January 1942. The following month, her aircraft bombed Darwin, Australia, and assisted in the conquest of the Dutch East Indies. In March and April 1942, Akagi's aircraft helped sink a British heavy cruiser and an Australian destroyer in the Indian Ocean Raid. After a brief refit, Akagi and three other fleet carriers of the Kido Butai participated in the Battle of Midway in June 1942. After bombarding American forces on the atoll, Akagi and the other carriers were attacked by aircraft from Midway and the carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown. Dive bombers from Enterprise severely damaged Akagi. When it became obvious she could not be saved, she was scuttled by Japanese destroyers to prevent her from falling into enemy hands. The loss of Akagi and three other IJN carriers at Midway was a crucial strategic defeat for Japan and contributed significantly to the Allies' ultimate victory in the Pacific.
A Rare WW2 Japanese 'Heiho' Captured and Converted Klewang Cutlass A very nice Dutch klewang M1911 naval cutlass, captured by the IJA in the Dutch East Indies in the South Pacific, and modified by Japanese to become renamed to become a so called 'Heiho', by cutting down the guard and the tip, maker marked by Hembrug, length 62 cm, in scabbard. They were later re-captured from the Japanese and used by the GI forces [see photos of GI's using and carrying the recaptured 'Heihos'. It was a Dutch Naval 1911 model “Klewang” cutlass by Hemburg which was cut down by the Japanese during WW2 to use as a machete and jungle sword. These swords were often issued to hunt down any remaining Dutch forces, and the Japanese Imperial occupying forces found them to be a most useful jungle sword. The overall condition is typical, with some old blade pitting, and the leather scabbard very good, the sword comes with the the original dutch leather scabbard and frog with belt loop and has metal re-enforcing strip to the top. Three rivet wooden grip and steel crossguard.
A Rare, Signed, Japanese Uke-Zutsu, A Sashimono Holder Worn By The Samurai An old Edo period piece, probably 17th to 18th century. A long tubular or square sided lacquered wooden mount, with a brass strengthening top piece, with which to carry the samurai's sashimono, clan banner, on the samurai's armour cuirass backplate. Although it appears to be a relatively simple piece it is a most rare original antique collectable that simply near impossible to find if one is needed. Sashimono poles were attached to the backs of the chest armour worn by samurai by special fittings. Sashimono were worn by basic foot combat samurai called ashigaru and the elite samurai who were both mounted on horses or fought on foot, and in special holders on the horses of some cavalry samurai. The banners, resembling small flags and bearing clan symbols, were most prominent during the Sengoku period—a long period of civil war in Japan from the middle 15th to early 17th century. The designs on sashimono were usually very simple geometric shapes, sometimes accompanied by Japanese characters providing the name of the leader or clan, the clan's mon, or a clan's slogan. Often, the background colour of the flag indicated which army unit the wearer belonged to, while different divisions in these armies emblazoned their own design or logo on it. However, the presence of the daimyo's mon was used more commonly than the design or logo of the unit, as battles could often get quite large and complicated; being able to recognize friend from foe at a glance is of the utmost importance in battle. Sometimes elite samurai, who were sufficiently famed or respected, had their own personal design or name featured on their sashimono as opposed to that of their division. These stylized designs contrast with the elaborate heraldic devices displayed by some European armies of the same period.
A Samurai's Loyalty Ritual-Exchange Wine Bowl, a Sakazuki A Sakazuki Cup, Footed Circular Wine Cup of Gold Lacquer Signed Hira Yoyusai Decorated with the symbols of the highest ranking samurai, an Imperial Court Cap, a Pole Arm and General's War Fan. Sakazuki is a ritual of exchanging sake cups as a means of pledging loyalty. The word itself refers to ceremonial cups used on special occasions like weddings, tea ceremonies, etc. There are currently two known versions of the sakazuki ritual. Worthy of any museum grade collection of the finest Japanese Ob'ject D'art. Edo period (19th century), signed Yoyusai (1772-1845). A footed, circular cup of pure gold lacquer in gold hiramaki-e on fundame ground. Decorated with an Imperial court cap, a war fan, a pole arm and a tied sack. Likely commissioned for a notable of the highest rank, such as a daimyo lord or member of the Japanese nobility. In the period Kwansei, 1789 to 1801 C.E., Koma Kwansai Inouye Hakusai, and Hara Yoyusai were the most famous artists, the first of whom was foremost in the delicacy of his work, but was comparatively unknown. Nakayama Komin was a distinguished lacquerer who worked in Edo and learnt the art from Hara Yoyusai (1772-1845). Yoyusai and other 19th-century lacquer artists including Koma Kansai and Zeshin, Nakayama Komin turned to famous early masterpieces of Japanese lacquer for inspiration. A superbly executed piece of finest artwork, showing remarkable skill for the minutest detail. Hiramaki-e, in Japanese lacquerwork, gold decoration in low, or “flat,” relief, a basic form of maki-e. The pattern is first outlined on a sheet of paper with brush and ink. It is then traced on the reverse side of the paper with a mixture of heated wet lacquer and (usually red) pigment. The artist transfers the pattern directly to the desired surface by rubbing with the fingertips, a process called okime. In the next step (jigaki), the pattern that has been transferred is painted over with lacquer—usually a reddish colour. A dusting tube is used to sprinkle gold powder on the painted design while the lacquer is still wet. When the lacquer is dry, superfluous gold powder is dusted off, and a layer of clear lacquer is applied over the gold-covered design. When dry, it is polished with powdered charcoal. A second layer of lacquer is added, allowed to dry, and given a fingertip polish with a mixture of linseed oil and finely powdered mudstone. The hiramaki-e technique, which dates from the latter part of the Heian period (794–1185), was preceded by togidashi maki-e, a technique in which not only the design but the whole surface is covered with clear lacquer after the sprinkling of metal powder; the lacquer is then polished down to reveal the design. During the Kamakura (1192–1333) and Muromachi (1338–1573) periods, hiramaki-e tended to be overshadowed by takamaki-e (gold or silver decoration in bold relief). It came fully into its own only in comparatively modern times. During the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1574–1600), hiramaki-e artists often left the sprinkled gold powder unpolished in a technique called maki-hanashi (“left as sprinkled”). A very beautiful piece by the master or an homage to Yoyusai bearing his name. 5" diameter across 1.33 inches high
A Scarce Cased Sagemono 'Demon Mask' Samurai Tobacco Pouch Set & Pipe Box Antique, Edo period [1600-1867] sagemono set. A silk tobacco pouch [tobako-ire] with a silver Oni Demon mask mount. A white Jade Ojimi on the connecting cord and a chequered lacquer and metal mounted pipe case a Kizuruzutsu. All set in a beautiful damask silk patterned box. Sagemono were the items [pouches pipes, writing implements etc.] that hung by silk cords from the Obi [the silk Kimono sash]. Tobacco was known in Japan since the 1570s at the earliest. By the early 17th century, kiseru had become popular enough to even be mentioned in some Buddhist textbooks for children. The kiseru evolved along with the equipment and use of incense associated with the Japanese incense ceremony: kodo: Master artisanship in the traditional Japanese aesthetic, this magnificent tobacco sagemono suite would make a striking centerpiece for the discriminating collector of Japanese antiques. From the early 16th century around the world, sailors and global trade disseminated tobacco and smoking habits. Cultivation by colonists became widespread not only in America, but across the African continent as well. “The weed had been integrated within diverse cultures, and diagnosed as beneficial by the medical systems of Europe, of China, and of India,” but it was the Japanese, having “received tobacco courtesy of a shipwreck in 1542,” who took most zealously to it, adopting a matter-of-fact approach free from ritual or reason. A doctor from Nagasaki wrote, “of late a new thing has come into fashion called ‘tobacco’, it consists of large leaves which are cut up and of which one drinks the smoke” . Tobacco was instantly popular—though, as elsewhere, first in the higher strata of Japanese society, where it was favoured by higher ranking Samurai who created “ornate silver tobacco pipes” and formed smoking clubs in which to gather and share in the pleasure of tobacco .
A Set of Exceptionally Beautiful Edo Period Samurai Tanto Koshirae Superb quality Edo period tanto koshirae [sword fittings] with a manikin of a wooden blade and habaki [tsunagi]. The full suite of matching, patinated, honey coloured copper, fushi, kashira, and tsuba bear a stunning kashira that depicts a carved figure of Fukurokuju, one of the Japanese seven deities, the tall headed god of happiness, wealth and long life one of the Shichi-fuku-jin (“Seven Gods of Luck”), particularly associated with longevity. He is supposed to have once lived on earth as a Chinese Taoist sage. He has a white beard, wears a scholar’s headdress and he reads from a scroll containing the world’s wisdom. The seven are drawn from various sources but have been grouped together from at least the 16th century. They are Bishamon, Daikoku, Ebisu, Fukurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, and the only female in the group, Benten. He is sometimes confused with Jurojin, another of the Several Gods of Fortune, who by some accounts is Fukurokuju's grandson and by other accounts inhabits the same body as Fukurokuju. As such, the two are often confused. The carving is beautifully executed and the figure has an most charming jolly smile. All the matching fittings are in beautiful condition. Only the lacquer of the saya has areas of wear and surface cracking. Overall 59 cm, saya 44cm, tsuka, 15cm
A Shinshinto Wakazashi Signed Nagata Masakuni Fine sukashi tsuba in iron, iron tsuka fushi with silver bird decoration, buffalo horn kashira and iron dragon meuki under a traditional battle wrap. The original Edo saya is decorated in full polished giant rayskin. The join seam of the rayskin on the reverse side of the saya shows a little shrinkage. Nicely polished blade showing a good undulating hamon in full polish and very nice grain in the hada. The samurai's wakizashi was used as his secondary or auxiliary sword; it was also used as an occasional primary weapon for close quarters fighting, such as in a castle, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set. Tiny combat edge nicks. A nice kodzuka utility blade handle in the saya pocket [with no blade]
A Shinto [1596-1781] Iron Tsuba Katana Guard With Brass Mimi Chisseled with scrolling chanels and a kodzuka ana and kogai ana. The oviod tsuba has [south fitted] copper kuchi-beni. The copper plug of the nakago-ana. Their function is to secure the tsuba firmly when mounted on a blade. These plugs are sometimes called sekigane. 2.75 inches across, 3 inches high
A Simply Beautiful 17th Century Soten Mounted Museum Grade Katana This is a most beautiful high ranking samurai's sword. Made and used at the beginning of the great Japanese Edo period. The blade has a wonderous hamon, shown in all it's beauty. All of the fittings are very fine and the overall effect is simply wonderfull. A singularly fine quality katana, with a full suite of, original, Edo period, signed Soten, gold and patinated copper fittings. This is truly a sword of great beauty, worthy of any museum grade collection. The saya is original Edo period in black lacquer. A revolution took place in the centuries from the time of the Kamakura shogunate, which coexisted with the Tenno's court, to the Tokugawa, when the bushi became the unchallenged rulers in what historian Edwin O. Reischauer called a "centralized feudal" form of government. Instrumental in the rise of the new bakufu was Tokugawa Ieyasu, the main beneficiary of the achievements of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Already powerful, Ieyasu profited by his transfer to the rich Kant? area. He maintained 2.5 million koku of land, new headquarters at Edo, a strategically situated castle town (the future Tokyo), and also had an additional two million koku of land and thirty-eight vassals under his control. After Hideyoshi's death, Ieyasu moved quickly to seize control from the Toyotomi family. Ieyasu's victory over the western daimyo at the Battle of Sekigahara (October 21, 1600, or in the Japanese calendar on the 15th day of the ninth month of the fifth year of the Keich? era) gave him virtual control of all Japan. He rapidly abolished numerous enemy daimyo houses, reduced others, such as that of the Toyotomi, and redistributed the spoils of war to his family and allies. Ieyasu still failed to achieve complete control of the western daimyo, but his assumption of the title of shogun helped consolidate the alliance system. After further strengthening his power base, Ieyasu installed his son Hidetada (1579–1632) as shogun and himself as retired shogun in 1605. The Toyotomi were still a significant threat, and Ieyasu devoted the next decade to their eradication. In 1615, the Tokugawa army destroyed the Toyotomi stronghold at Osaka. The Tokugawa (or Edo) period brought 250 years of stability to Japan. The political system evolved into what historians call bakuhan, a combination of the terms bakufu and han (domains) to describe the government and society of the period. In the bakuhan, the shogun had national authority and the daimyo had regional authority. This represented a new unity in the feudal structure, which featured an increasingly large bureaucracy to administer the mixture of centralized and decentralized authorities. The Tokugawa became more powerful during their first century of rule: land redistribution gave them nearly seven million koku, control of the most important cities, and a land assessment system reaping great revenues. As Japan entered the more peaceful Edo Period (1603-1868), tsuba and sword fittings became increasingly elaborate and decorative in design and function, and their manufacture became highly specialised and technically advanced. Different schools of makers developed their own styles, often influenced by the culture and environment of the region, and the role of the tsuba and mounts extended to become an elaborate piece of art. Subjects for decoration included Japanese mythology, history and nature. Since the 16th century, it was customary for the guard and mounts to feature the signature of the maker. The katana's saya has a few small Edo period contact marks throughout. It could be re-lacqured to as new condition if it was required by its new owner or left original as is. Valued for their excellence in design and execution, sword fittings today exist as refined pieces of art, and although now only used for state occasions and consecrations, the Japanese sword and its fittings remain a symbol of authority and reminder of Japan's powerful, and at times tumultuous, samurai past. Blade 30.3 inches long tip to tsuba, sword length 40 inches out of saya. 41 inches long overall.
A Simply Beautiful Ancient Koto Katana Circa 1530, Signed Fitting and Tsuba Wonderful quality signed fushi hilt mount of shakudo and pure gold of a takebori samurai daimyo lord, in court dress, wearing his tachi. Very good tsuba in iron, also signed. Menuki of cranes underneath the silk ito. Very beautiful blade with typical Koto period narrow straight hamon of fine simplicity. Engraved gilt habaki [blade collar] with Tokugawa clan mon of Aoi hollyhock leaves. To many of us in the West, the movie image of the samurai in his fantastic armour, galloping into battle on his horse, his colourful personal flag, or sashimono, whipping in the wind on his back, has become the very symbol of Japan, the Empire of the Rising Sun. And, truly, to the samurai of real life, nothing embodied his warrior’s code of Bushido more than his sword, considered inseparable from his soul. Indeed, a sword was considered such a crucial part of a samurai’s life that when a young samurai was about to be born, a sword was brought into the bedchamber during the delivery. When the time came for an old samurai to die — and cross over into the ‘White Jade Pavilion of the Afterlife’ — his honoured sword was placed by his side. Even after death, a daimyo, or nobleman, believed he could count on his samurai who had followed him into the next world to use their keen blades to guard him against any demons, just as they had wielded their trusty weapons to defend him against flesh-and-blood enemies in this life. Shakudo is a billon of gold and copper (typically 4-10% gold, 96-90% copper) which can be treated to form an indigo/black patina resembling lacquer. Unpatinated shakudo Visually resembles bronze; the dark color is induced by applying and heating rokusho, a special patination formula. Shakudo Was historically used in Japan to construct or decorate katana fittings such as tsuba, menuki, and kozuka; as well as other small ornaments. When it was introduced to the West in the mid-19th century, it was thought to be previously unknown outside Asia, but recent studies have suggested close similarities to certain decorative alloys used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome
A Simply Beautiful Japanese Aikuchi Tanto of Incredibly Elegant Form A Japanese dagger all shakudo mounted aikuchi. Signed Kunitoshi with 2 mekugi ana, likely Meiji period, blade chisselled with dragon horimono on the obverse and with a ken horimono to the reverse; gilt shakudo tsuka and saya engraved with Tokugawa mons and with gold nishiji decoration overall. Shakudo is a billon of gold and copper (typically 4-10% gold, 96-90% copper) which can be treated to form an indigo/black patina resembling lacquer. Unpatinated shakudo Visually resembles bronze; the dark color is induced by applying and heating rokusho, a special patination formula. Shakudo was historically used in Japan to construct or decorate katana fittings such as tsuba, menuki, and kozuka; as well as other small ornaments. When it was introduced to the West in the mid-19th century, it was thought to be previously unknown outside Asia, but recent studies have suggested close similarities to certain decorative alloys used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. This tanto is mounted fully in all shakudo, both fittings, tsuka and saya, [hilt and scabbard]. The blade with look wonderful when it is repolished. Overall 25cms long, blade 12.2cms
A Simply Fabulous Huge O-Tanto by Soshu Masahiro Muramachi Circa 1500 O Tanto - Masahiro Koto period - Muromachi between 1350 &1550 (6 Masahiro generations) Masahiro has been Hiromitsu student, himself a student of Masamune, founder of the Soshu Tradition Sagami Province - Soshu Den (Sue Soshu) Tradition - Odawara Soshu Group. A 500 year old sword that is an o-tanto of huge size, and fitted absolutely beautifully. This is a really impressive, and a true samurai 'statement piece'. The blade is what Europeans would define as near machete type, huge and imposing and remarkable status weapon. Very wide hira-zukuri blade [Hira: A tanto form with no shinogi, the edge bevels reaching all the way from the edge (ha) to the back (mune) with no separate flats in between, creating an almost triangular cross-section (the back is ridged, as on most other blade forms, so the cross-section is actually an extremely asymmetrical diamond shape. Engraved with detailed horimono on both sides. The omote has the a Dragon wrapped around a Tsurugi, with a Vajra, the mura twin hi and a Buddhist bonji, these are typical Masahiro horimono. The Tsuka is all black lacquer carved with geometric pattern and a copper collar that fits by sliding over the mekugi, and a deep fushi of copper decotaed with a hand hammered nanako ground. The saya has incredibly deep layers of lacquer carved throughout with arabesques. The tsuba is shakudo with fisherman casting nets and a boat in the background and a dragon with gold eyes on the reverse side. Blade length 18 inches from tsuba, width 1.25 inches at the tsuba. Overall in saya 25.25 inches.
A Simply Magnificent Museum Quality Ancient Samurai Tachi Signed Nagamitsu An Itomaki no-dachi tachi, 14th century, around 650 Years old or more. Its stunning mounts are in wonderful condition they are fully matching koshirae [tachi mountings] from the Edo period, and the saya is inlaid over gold nishiji lacquer with shakudo and gold décor of mon and tendrils. Possibly used in the Genko war. The Genko War (1331–1333) also known as the Genko Incident was a civil war in Japan which marked the fall of the Kamakura shogunate and end of the power of the Hojo clan. The war thus preceded the Nanboku-cho Period and the rise of the Ashikaga shogunate. Genko Is the name of the Japanese era corresponding to the period 1331–1334. Throughout much of the Kamakura period, the shogunate was controlled by the Hojo clan, whose members held the title of shikken (regent for the shogun), and passed it on within the clan. The Emperor was little more than a figurehead, holding no real administrative power. In 1331, Emperor Go-Daigo plotted to seize power and overthrow the shogunate in Kamakura. However, he was betrayed by a trusted adviser Fujiwara Sadafusa. The Emperor fled Kyoto with the Sacred Treasures and sought refuge in a secluded monastery overlooking the Kizu River, called Kasagi. The monastery was attacked by Bakufu troops in the Siege of Kasagi. The emperor managed to escape, but only temporarily, and was subsequently banished to the Oki Islands. The shogunate then enthroned Emperor Kgon. The Emperor's son Prince Morinaga continued to fight, leading his father's supporters alongside Kusunoki Masashige. Emperor Go-Daigo escaped Oki in the spring of 1333, two years after his exile, with the help of Nawa Nagatoshi and his family, raising an army at Funagami Mountain in Hoki Province Meanwhile, Ashikaga Takauji, the chief general of the Hojo family, turned against the Hojo and fought for the Emperor in the hopes of being named shogun. Takauji entered Kyoto on 19 June and Go-Daigo entered the Palace at the end of July 1333. Simultaneously, Nitta Yoshisada led his army on a campaign through Kozuke and Musashi provinces culminating in the siege of Kamakura, setting fire to the city, and destroying the Kamakura shogunate. The blade is in beautiful order for its age, and measures from tsuba to tip 28 inches, its overall length is 38.5 inches.
A Simply Stunning 14th to 15th Century Tachi, The Samurai 'Slung' Sword The blade looks simply magnificent. It's had grain as so beautiful and complex it is truly exceptional, and utterly remarkable for a blade that is between 600 to 700 years old!! A slim wakazashi sized tachi, in stunning Edo period shakudo fittings, of the most discerning quality, mounted faithfully to scale as a full tachi, but around two thirds size and to be worn as a shoto but tachi style, bound from the obi. Often they could be used as young samurai swords, but only for sons of the very highest ranking Daimyo when in this quality. Beautiful blade from the 14th to 15th century with nambokochu form fish belly tang. The koshirae are gilt bronze with fine shakudo and mon of menuki, The Nishikawa family crest, of the Maru ni Mokkou. A tachi was a type of traditionally made Japanese sword (nihonto) worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The tachi style of swords preceded the development of the katana — the first use of the word katana to indicate a blade different from tachi appears toward the end of the twelfth century. In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors of what became the ruling class would wear their sword tachi-style (edge-downward), rather than with the saya (scabbard) thrust through the belt with the edge upward. The bakuhan taisei was the feudal political system in the Edo period of Japan. Baku, or "tent," is an abbreviation of bakufu, meaning "military government" — that is, the shogunate. The han were the domains headed by daimyo. The number of han (roughly 250) fluctuated throughout the Edo period. They were ranked by size, which was measured as the number of koku that the domain produced each year. One koku was the amount of rice necessary to feed one adult male for one year. The minimum number for a daimyo was ten thousand koku; the largest, apart from the shogun, was a million. 28.5 inches long, blade 20.25 inches long tsuba to tip. Kameda - Ishino - Magabuchi - Kawashima - Wada et Yamaoka. Tachi can vary in size enormously from elegant and small such as this ancient sword, to long and heavy.
A Simply Stunning Koto Japanese Katana Circa 1550 Around 470 to 500 year old blade. Fitted with wonderful original Edo period mounts, including its original Edo period lacquer saya in near pristine condition with multi patterned lacquer that has survived near 200 years. The complexity of the different patterns of lacquer on the saya shows the status of it's last owners during the 18th and 19th century. A saya of this quality would likely have takne over a year to make. Long impressive blade with a long o-kissaki tip. The tsuba is iron tetsu inlaid with kinko in the form of a willow tree. The fushi and menuki patterns are dragon based.The first use of katana as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi occurs as early as the Kamakura Period (1185–1333). These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower-ranking warriors. The Mongol invasions of Japan facilitated a change in the designs of Japanese swords. Thin tachi and chokuto-style blades were often unable to cut through the boiled leather armour of the Mongols, with the blades often chipping or breaking off. The evolution of the tachi into what would become the katana seems to have continued during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the katana-style mei were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Overall 40 inches long, blade tsuba to tip 28.25 inches long
A Simply Stunning Koto Katana With A Fantastic Unokubi Zukuri Blade Circa 1500, around 500 years old. The 'cormorant's neck' blade form is patterned after the shape of the Nagamaki, the powerful long-handled sword popular between the 12th and 14th centuries. Notable for the strongly relieved shinogi-ji and diamond-shaped kissaki, the Unokubi-Zukuri Katana provides excellent balance in a strong cutting blade. The mune (back) of the blade is also different from the more usual form in that it starts out like most katanas, but after a third of the way down, the mune thins out rapidly into a long thin false edge. The last couple of inches of the mune then flare back out into a diamond form right at the kissaki. The Koto period is 900 to 1595 AD. With very nice mounts. The fushi kashira are embellished with gold over patinated copper and decorated with animals. The kashira is a gold embellished bird with flowers on a nanako ground, and the fushi is decorated with a rat eating a daikon, the favoured food of the samurai. The tsuba is in iron, koto period O-sukashi with piercings and wide rim. The blade looks superb. 27.5 inch blade. 38 inches long approx overall in saya
A Simply Stunning Samurai Daisho, Koto Period,1540, Almost 500 Years Old The traditional matched pair of samurai swords, in fully matching koshirae, worn by a samurai of high rank and status. Both blades possess a most beautiful gunome hamon with deep curvature and bright polish. This stunning daisho have iron Higo style fushi kashira, and an attractive sukashi pierced sakura kamon pair of tsuba in iron, and each blade has a gilded copper habaki. The sayas have contrasting lacquer with narrow ribbed lacquer in black, and lobster scale ribbing in cinnabar red ishime stone finish on the middle and bottom sections with buffalo horn kurigata and sayajiri. They both have matching, gilt, shishi [lion dog] menuki beneath the brown silk [ito] hilt binding. The shoto has a fine shinto kodzuka [utility knife] decorated with takebori gold shishi lion dog and flowers over patinated copper, and samurai banners engraved on the rear of the handle with its signature, a knife that beautifully compliments the pair of shishi menuki. The curvature that is seen best on the daito [long sword] is superbly elegant. A samurai's daisho were his swords, as worn together, as stated in the Tokugawa edicts. In a samurai family the swords were so revered that they were passed down from generation to generation, from father to son. If the hilt or scabbard wore out or broke, new ones would be fashioned for the all-important blade. The hilt, the tsuba (hand guard), and the scabbard themselves were often great art objects, with fittings sometimes of gold or silver. Often, too, they ‘told’ a story from Japanese myths. Magnificent specimens of Japanese swords can be seen today in the Tokugawa Art Museum’s collection in Nagoya, Japan. In creating the sword, a sword craftsman, such as, say, the legendary Masamune, had to surmount a virtual technological impossibility. The blade had to be forged so that it would hold a very sharp edge and yet not break in the ferocity of a duel. To achieve these twin objectives, the sword maker was faced with a considerable metallurgical challenge. Steel that is hard enough to take a sharp edge is brittle. Conversely, steel that will not break is considered soft steel and will not take a keen edge. Japanese sword artisans solved that dilemma in an ingenious way. Four metal bars — a soft iron bar to guard against the blade breaking, two hard iron bars to prevent bending and a steel bar to take a sharp cutting edge — were all heated at a high temperature, then hammered together into a long, rectangular bar that would become the sword blade. When the swordsmith worked the blade to shape it, the steel took the beginnings of an edge, while the softer metal ensured the blade would not break. This intricate forging process was followed by numerous complex processes culminating in specialist polishing to reveal the blades hamon and to thus create the blade's sharp edge. Inazo Nitobe stated: ‘The swordsmith was not a mere artisan but an inspired artist and his workshop a sanctuary. Daily, he commenced his craft with prayer and purification, or, as the phrase was, ‘he committed his soul and spirit into the forging and tempering of the steel.” Celebrated sword masters in the golden age of the samurai, roughly from the 13th to the 17th centuries, were indeed revered to the status they richly deserved. Blade length of daito, tsuba to tip 28.5 inches long, overall in saya 39.5 inches long, shoto blade length 16 inches long tsuba to tip, overall 24 inches long in saya. As with almost all daisho we have ever seen the blades are most usually made by different makers. The daisho is complete with this display stand [katanakake]. This daisho is in very good condition indeed silk hilt binding [tsukaito] fully and finely restored.
A Simply Superb & Beautiful Signed Samurai Koto Period Katana Circa 1575 Signed Tadayoshi saku. Beautiful, and long polished blade. Superb quality, gold vine and tendrils inlaid, suite of Higo school sword fittings [koshirae] including its very fine fully matching sayajiri [sword scabbard bottom mount]. Exceptional quality original Edo period carved and lacquered saya with crushed-abilone shell inlay, with a wide ribbed top section, and smooth lower section. Fine and beautiful blade with a subtle and elegant suguha [striaght] hamon. The first use of "katana" as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi is found in the 12th century. These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower ranking warriors. The evolution of the tachi into the katana seems to have started during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the "katana" signature were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the signature facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner. However, it is thought by many, that as many as 70% of katana made were never signed at all. The rise in popularity of katana by samurai is believed to have been due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the sword was well suited to combat where victory depended heavily on fast response times. The katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the sharpened edge facing up. Ideally, samurai could draw the sword and strike the enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt The length of the katana blade varied considerably during the course of its history. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, katana blades tended to be between 68 to 73 cm (26 to 28 in) in length. During the early 16th century, the average length was closer to 60 cm (23.5 in). By the late 16th century, the average length returned to greater lengths. However, with every new owner [and early blades may have had 20 owners] the blade could be reduced if required to fit, and the shorter samurai would need shorter swords however long the considered norm may have been. 27.25 inch blade from tsuba to tip, sword length overall in its saya 37.75 inches
A Simply Wonderful Koto Katana, Museum Quality Mounting Circa 1580. All original Edo period koshirae [fittings] and beautiful original Edo cinnabar lacquer saya. The wrap is original Edo lacquered tooled leather over two wonderful pure gold decorated menuki of two armoured menuki. The tsuba is a very fine nanban lobed mokko gata tsuba of wonderful dragon form also decorated with gold. The kashira is a gold decorated shakudo and the fushi a super quality dragon on a nanako ground. The blade has a joyful hamon and a hammered silver over copper habaki. the first mention of the word "katana" occurred during Japan's Kamakura Period (1185 to 1333). Back then, the word was used to describe a long sword with similar characteristics as the tachi but with a few nuances. The katana, for instance, generally had a longer, more curved blade than its tachi counterpart. Most importantly, however, the katana was stronger and more powerful than the tachi. The Kamakura and Muromachi periods These two periods are considered as the most important periods of the Samurai sword's development history. Though the exact time frames for these periods is debated the period from 1185 to 1336 was known as the Kamakura while the period from 1337 to 1573 was referred to as the Muromachi period. During these periods, there were many invasions in Japan. As a result, there was need for an effective sword to fend off invaders successfully. During battle the Japanese warriors found that it was very difficult to draw the old ken straight sword from the scabbard (saya) while fighting on a horseback. Consequently, during the Muromachi period, smiths developed the curved katana sword which was more functional during horseback fighting. Because of the design and effective cutting angles, a Samurai could easily draw their sword from the scabbard and slash their opponents in a single swing. 27.5 inch blade from tsuba to tip.
A Singularly Beautiful Ancient Samurai Aikuchi Tanto of the Ogasawara Clan Almost 600 years old. Beautifully mounted in finest all original Edo period fittings, and fully decorated with five, silver, Ogasawa kamon [clan crests]. The original lacquer saya is beautifully decorated with a dragon. The dagger also has a pair of kodzuka and kogai fittings each with the clan mon in silver. The blade is superb, in early unokobe zukuri [cormorant's neck] form, with four, tiny, close combat edge nicks at the blade tip, but these could be easily removed if the blade was repolished. The Ogasawara clan was a Japanese samurai clan descended from the Seiwa Genji. The Ogasawara acted as shugo (governors) of Shinano Province in the medieval period (c. 1185–1600), and as daimyo (feudal lords) of territories on Kyushu during the Edo period (1600–1867). During the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, the clan controlled Shinano province, while related clans controlled the provinces of Awa, Bizen, Bitchu, Iwami, Mikawa, Totomi and Mutsu. According to some theories, the Miyoshi clan and the Mizukami clan were descendants of the Ogasawara clan. The clan developed a number of schools of martial arts during this period, known as Ogasawara-ryu, and contributed to the codification of bushido etiquette. Towards the end of the Sengoku period (late 16th century), the clan opposed both Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. During the Edo period, the Ogasawara were identified as one of the fudai or insider daimyo clans which were hereditary vassals or allies of the Tokugawa, in contrast with the tozama or outsider clans. 16.5 inches long overall, 11.75 inches long tsuba to tip.
A Spectacular Long Bladed Koto Katana Circa 1490 With Amazing Hamon With a simply glorious finely polished blade showing within it's beautiful polish a deep gully wavy gunome hamon of breath-taking beauty. Original Edo wrap over gilt menuki with pure gold decorated fushi collar [sword hilt mount] depicting deeply chissled takebori Soten fighting samurai in armour, carved horn kashira [pommel]. The tsuba has a silvered applied rim and the design is sukashi piercings showing a circle of arrow flights to complement the fittings. It has a most elegant original Edo lacquer saya most deeply ribbed in black, with light age marks. Copper double habaki blade collar. 29 inch blade tsuba to tip. Signs of light wear but overall superb for age. 29 inch blade tsuba to tip
A Spectacularly Stunning Samurai 'Royal' Katana In Imperial White and Black Signed Fujiwara Katsunaga, circa 1650, a good master samurai sword smith of the early Shinto era. Edo 1650 iron fushi inlaid with stylised gold dragon, matching iron and gold inlaid sayajiri [bottom scabbard mount]. A beautiful full relief sukashi dargon tsuba, and gold menuki of dragon under the white silk ito [hilt wrap]. This sword was made around the British equivalent era of the English Civil War, yet looks as good as it did on the day it was made. A similar white silk bound samurai sword cajn be seen on exhibition in the Dresden-Zwinger-Armoury Museum. White in Japan has been the colour of purity, specifically ritual purity. The use of the white katabira is thought to have appeared around 794 to 1185, as a mix of Shinto and Buddhist tradition. The Emperor was said to wear a white kimono when performing religious rituals during the Heian period. Unlike the coarse hemp of the commoners, the Emperors garment was spun from silk and was called a byakue meaning nothing more complicated than “white robe.”. This sword has a beautiful blade, with a subtle sugaha hamon, and a tsuba of a full sukashi takebori dragon holding a ken [ancient sword] with gold decorated matching menuki under the white silk binding over black lacquered giant rayskin. The first use of "katana" as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi is found in the 12th century. These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower ranking warriors. The evolution of the tachi into the katana seems to have started during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the "katana" signature were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the signature facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner. However, it is thought by many, that as many as 70% of katana made were never signed at all. The rise in popularity of katana by samurai is believed to have been due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the sword was well suited to combat where victory depended heavily on fast response times. The katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the sharpened edge facing up. Ideally, samurai could draw the sword and strike the enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt The length of the katana blade varied considerably during the course of its history. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, katana blades tended to be between 68 to 73 cm (26 to 28 in) in length. During the early 16th century, the average length was closer to 60 cm (23.5 in). By the late 16th century, the average length returned to greater lengths. A photo in our gallery, taken around 1850 in Japan shows an Imperial retainer with his white silk bound sword. This is a stunning sword in superb condition with just some miniscule surface pitting by the blade tip. 39 inches long approx overall in saya
A Spectacularly Stunning Samurai Dragon Katana In Imperial White and Black Signed Fujiwara Katsunaga, circa 1650, a good master samurai sword smith of the early Shinto era. All the fittings including the tsuba are based on dragon, one of the great and powerful symbols of oriental culture. The Edo 1650 iron fushi inlaid with stylised gold dragon, matching iron and gold inlaid sayajiri [bottom scabbard mount]. A beautiful full relief sukashi dragon tsuba, and gold menuki of dragon under the white silk ito [hilt wrap]. The tsuka is bound over stunning black giant rayskin called same [pronounced sarmay], to create an amazing contrast against the Imperial white silk. This sword was made around the British equivalent era of the English Civil War, yet looks as good as it did on the day it was made. A similar white silk bound samurai sword can be seen on exhibition in the Dresden-Zwinger-Armoury Museum. White in Japan has been the colour of purity, specifically ritual purity. The use of the white katabira is thought to have appeared around 794 to 1185, as a mix of Shinto and Buddhist tradition. The Emperor was said to wear a white kimono when performing religious rituals during the Heian period. Unlike the coarse hemp of the commoners, the Emperors garment was spun from silk and was called a byakue meaning nothing more complicated than “white robe.”. This sword has a beautiful blade, with a subtle sugaha hamon, and a tsuba of a full sukashi takebori dragon holding a ken [ancient sword] with gold decorated matching menuki under the white silk binding over black lacquered giant rayskin. The first use of "katana" as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi is found in the 12th century. These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower ranking warriors. The evolution of the tachi into the katana seems to have started during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the "katana" signature were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the signature facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner. However, it is thought by many, that as many as 70% of katana made were never signed at all. The rise in popularity of katana by samurai is believed to have been due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the sword was well suited to combat where victory depended heavily on fast response times. The katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the sharpened edge facing up. Ideally, samurai could draw the sword and strike the enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt The length of the katana blade varied considerably during the course of its history. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, katana blades tended to be between 68 to 73 cm (26 to 28 in) in length. During the early 16th century, the average length was closer to 60 cm (23.5 in). By the late 16th century, the average length returned to greater lengths. A photo in our gallery, taken around 1850 in Japan shows an Imperial retainer with his white silk bound sword. This is a stunning sword in superb condition with just some miniscule surface pitting by the blade tip. 39 inches long approx overall in saya
A Splenderous Ishido School Silver Mounted Katana Circa 1650 With royal white silk wrap. Silver matching koshirae and gold and bronze Kiri mon menuki. A very beautiful Edo period mokko form iron tsuba inlaid with pure gold silver and copper A beautiful iron plate with very nice quality decoration of four robed figures observing a four birds across a moon lit cloud. Copper sekigane. Lacquer saya and it's stunning pure gold decorated kodzuka knife with pure gold Shishi [lion dog] vahjira [lightning maker] and ken [ancient straight sword. It also has a full matching set of mountings over sang de beuof stone lacquer. The hamon is truly robust midare and wonderous to admire. Mumei tang with three mukugi ana. This is a beautiful piece that would grace any fine collection of antiques or top quality art. Worthy of a museum collection. The Ishido School originated at the Sekido Temple in Omi Province around the Kanei period (1624). From there the smiths went to various sections of the country to found branch Ishido schools. Some went to Kii Province and came to be known as the Kishi Ishido. Later Tameyasu led this group to Osaka. Others went to Edo, the most famous of these being Ishido Korekazu. Mitsuhira was one of the students of Korekazu. The Ishido school smiths were best known for their ability to make swords in the Bizen tradition of the Ichimonji School. They were well known for their hamon, which was a robust choji midare, which sometimes reached the shinogi. Their works often had fine utsuri and the best works are often mistaken for true Ichimonji works. One distinctive feature, which differs from the Ichimonji School, is that the hada in the shinogi ji is masame whereas in the Ichimonji School of the Koto period it would be itame. Another difference is that in Ichimonji swords the outstanding midare patterns would keep their exuberance into the boshi while the boshi of the Ishido School tend to be of a quieter and shallower midare pattern. Mitsuhira is now thought to have been the older brother of Tsunemitsu. He worked around the middle of the 17th century. His family name was Heki. He received the title of Dewa no Kami and was later known as Dewa Nyudo. He is famous for his choji hamon and both he and Korekazu are credited with the revival of the Bizen tradition in the Shinto period. His choji can be distinguished from the other Ishido smiths in that his was shaped more in a fukuro-choji form (sack-shape choji). This is one of the few points that separate his works from the works of his brother Tsunemitsu. Author; Fred Weisberg. 39.5 inches long overall in saya
A Stunning Ancient Koto Period Katana Circa 1400, Muramachi Era. Originally tachi or uchigatana mounted this fabulous and ancient sword was remounted likely 400 years ago as a katana. Signed tsuba decorated with a figure on a water buffalo and small pure gold inlaid dots. Gilt decorated fushi kashira, the fushi with depicting jungle fauna and the kashira with a takebori tiger. Gold silk bound tsuka over bronze shishi on black samegawa. Set off with a dark red stone finish lacquer saya. The blade has an incredibly beautiful and complex hamon pattern, with just a couple of thin, natural openings due to it's great age. The uchigatana was the predecessor to the katana as the battle-blade of feudal Japan's bushi (warrior class), and as it evolved into the later design, the two were often differentiated from each other only by how they were worn and by the fittings for the blades. It was during the Mongol invasions that it was shown there were some weaknesses in the tachi sword which led to the development of the Katana. In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors [daimyo] of what became the ruling class would wear their swords tachi mounted This sword would very likely have been used in the Onin War (1467–1477) which led to serious political fragmentation and obliteration of domains: a great struggle for land and power ensued among bushi chieftains and lasted until the mid-sixteenth century. Peasants rose against their landlords and samurai against their overlords, as central control virtually disappeared. An early Japanese print in the gallery shows a samurai receiving his reward of a fine tachi [such as this one] from his shugo daimyo lord. The shugo daimyo were the first group of men to hold the title "daimyo". They arose from among the shugo during the Muromachi period. The shugo daimyo held not only military and police powers, but also economic power within a province. They accumulated these powers throughout the first decades of the Muromachi period. The Onin War was a major uprising in which shugo daimyo fought each other. During this and other wars of the time, kuni ikki, or provincial uprisings, took place as locally powerful warriors sought independence from the shugo daimyo. The deputies of the shugo daimyo, living in the provinces, seized the opportunity to strengthen their position. At the end of the fifteenth century, those shugo daimyo who succeeded remained in power. Those who had failed to exert control over their deputies fell from power and were replaced by a new class, the "sengoku daimyo", who arose from the ranks of the shugodai'K and Ji-samurai. 28 inch blade length from tsuba to tip, 39 inches full length complete katana in saya, 9.65 inch Tsuka
A Stunning and Most Beautiful 1550's Koto Era Seki Wakazashi In original Edo polish. All original Edo period fittings and saya. Beautiful quality fittings decorated with pure gold and silver decorated butterflies in relief. Ishime stone finish Edo period saya. A very nice signed iron pierced sukashi tsuba with pure gold mon décor, of the Takeda mon and the Imperial Chrysanthemum. Stunning sanbon tsugi [three cedar] form Seki hamon. Tsuka ito in need of rebinding ideally. Fifty years after this sword was made the Tokugawa shogunate began and effectively ruled Japan for the next 268 years. The heads of government were the shoguns, and each was a member of the Tokugawa clan. The Tokugawa shogunate ruled from Edo Castle and the years of the shogunate became known as the Edo period. This time is also called the Tokugawa period or pre-modern. Following the Sengoku Period of "warring states", the central government had been largely re-established by Oda Nobunaga during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. After the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, central authority fell to Tokugawa Ieyasu. Society in the Tokugawa period, unlike the shogunates before it, was supposedly based on the strict class hierarchy originally established by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The daimyo, or lords, were at the top, followed by the warrior-caste of samurai, with the farmers, artisans, and traders ranking below. In some parts of the country, particularly smaller regions, daimyo and samurai were more or less identical, since daimyo might be trained as samurai, and samurai might act as local rulers. Otherwise, the largely inflexible nature of this social stratification system unleashed disruptive forces over time. Despite the establishment of the shogunate, the Emperor in Kyoto was still the legitimate ruler of Japan. However, regardless of the political title of the Emperor, the shoguns of the Tokugawa family controlled Japan. The administration of Japan was a task given by the Imperial Court in Kyoto to the Tokugawa family
A Stunning Japanese 0-Tanto Signed Echizen Kuni ju nin Kanenori Circa 1615 A very large Japanese samurai dagger around 400 years old possibly Keicho era. Beautifully mounted in its all original Edo period fittings of very fine quality. The takebori tsuba is decorated with a most finley executed dragon with pure gold highlights and bears a large cursive signature by its maker. The fushigashira are iron inlaid with pure silver wire decoration of tendrils and flowers. The menuki are absolutely delightful of pure gold decorated twin pairs of cockerals in differing poses. The wide and long blade is most imposing, with a very unusual carved hi [groove] configuration. This beautiful large samurai dagger was made in and around the time of the famous clan conflict at Osaka Castle. In 1614, the Toyotomi clan rebuilt Osaka Castle. At the same time, the head of the clan sponsored the rebuilding of Hoko-ji in Kyoto. These temple renovations included the casting of a great bronze bell, with inscriptions that read "May the state be peaceful and prosperous" (kokka anko), and "May noble lord and servants be rich and cheerful" (kunshin horaku). The shogunate interpreted "kokka anko" as shattering Ieyasu's [the Shogun] name to curse him, and also interpreted "kunshin horaku" to mean "Toyotomi's force will rise again," which meant treachery against the new Tokugawa shogunate. Tensions began to grow between the Tokugawa and the Toyotomi clans, and only increased when Toyotomi began to gather a force of ronin [ mercenary samurai who had lost their lord] and enemies of the shogunate in Osaka. Ieyasu, despite having passed the title of Shogun to his son in 1605, nevertheless maintained significant influence. Despite Katagiri Katsumoto's attempts to mediate the situation, Ieyasu found the ideal pretext to take a belligerent attitude against Yodo-dono and Hideyori. The situation worsened for September of that year, when the news reached Edo that in Osaka they were grouping a large quantity of ronin-you are missing without a lord-at the invitation of Hideyori. Katsumoto proposed to Yodo-dono be sent to Edo as a hostage with the desire to avoid hostilities, to which she flatly refused. Suspect of trying to betray the Toyotomi clan, Yodo-dono finally banished Katsumoto and several other servants accused of treason from Osaka castle, and go to the service of the Tokugawa clan, consequently any possibility of reaching an agreement with the shogunate was dissolved. This last movement of Yodo-dono, who acted as the guardian of Hideyori, led to the beginning of the siege of Osaka. The siege of Osaka ( Osaka no Eki, or, more commonly, Osaka no Jin) was a series of battles undertaken by the Tokugawa shogunate against the Toyotomi clan, towards the end of the Keicho era, and ending in that clan's destruction. Divided into two stages (winter campaign and summer campaign), and lasting from 1614 to 1615, the siege put an end to the last major armed opposition to the shogunate's establishment. The end of the conflict is sometimes called the Genna Armistice ( Genna Enbu), because the era name was changed from Keicho to Genna immediately following the siege. 22.5 inches long overall, 14 inches long blade tsuba to tip.
A Stunning Samurai Edo Period Momonari [Peach Shaped] Kabuto Helmet Also shown with its armour gosuko, but can be sold seperately. The momonari samurai kabuto (peach-shaped) is inspired by European helmets during the Momoyama period (1575 - 1615) mainly the morion and the cabasset. The Kachushi (Armour craftsmen) made them from two iron plates specifically joined together like the shell of a clam. They where designed specifically to deflect the bullets from the new muskets appearing on the field of battle brought by the Portuguese and Spanish. The momonari kabuto was made well known for its abilities on the battlefield during the campaign of Korea (1592-98) in Kyushu island. Hachi of black lacquer and red lacquer on the underside, small fukigaeshi, with shikoro of 5 lames, early lining with tying cord. Japanese helmets dating from the fifth century (long before the rise of the samurai class) have been found in excavated tombs. Called mabizashi-tsuke kabuto (visor-attached helmet), the style of these kabuto came from China and Korea and they had a pronounced central ridge. The kabuto was an important part of the equipment of the samurai, and played a symbolic role as well, which may explain the Japanese expressions, sayings and codes related to them. One example is Katte kabuto no o o shimeyo (lit. "Tighten the string of the kabuto after winning the war"). This means don't lower your efforts after succeeding (compare to "not to rest on one's laurels")
A Stunning Shinto Wakazashi Signed Noshu Seki ju Kanefusa Circa 1680 Beautiful blade with wonderful hamon, finest Edo period fittings decorated with pure gold highlights, and its original Edo polished giant rayskin saya. The saya has an original kodzuka pocket with its kodzuka knife present with matching gold décor of flowers and a shishi lion dog. The tsuba is equally beautiful, Shinto period, in patinated bronze alloy decorated in pure gold with a sage his pupil and a crane at the waters edge. The original Edo wrap is bound over a pair of menuki that depict small rabbits. Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set.
A Stunning, Signed Koto Katana, Circa 1500, with an Exceptional Blade Around 500 years old, complete in its untouched and original Edo period mounts, including an engraved silver overlaid habaki, and a pair of bronze feather menuki under its original Edo gold silk ito. The fushi kashira are iron, engraved with raindrops, and trimmed with gold lines. The tsuba is most rare, an o sukashi tsuba in iron and signed. The saya has its original Edo lacquer and decorated with tiny pine needles, layered in a supposedly random fashion, but actually very labour intensively laid out in a simulated random pattern, one needle at a time. The saya alone would likely have taken over a year to complete. The blade has a simply stunning hamon and it is a beautiful light and elegant shape signed Kane**. The saya has numerous small antique surface bruises from its use in its working life
A Super 16th to 17th Century Samurai Yoroi Armour Face Mask 'Hanbo' A rarely surviving early peice of facial armour from the great samurai era. Early Edo period. The maker of this remarkable face mask has emphasized its appearance by exaggerating the angularity of the cheeks and jawline through bold lines. The design is called ressai [ violent expression]. This mask is of fine quality, although very aged. The tetsu russet surface has been finely finished and the embossing is sharp. Early Edo period . Overall condition is as expected for it's significant age with seperation on the laced neck defence. Some chips and minor rust and lacquer losses overall. It's type is the School  of Nara style   It has an asenagashino ana [a hole under the chin to drain off perspiration] and orikugi [two projecting studs above the chin to provide a secure fastening to the wearer]. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours). Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered a relatively peaceful Edo period. However, the Shoguns of the Tokugawa period were most adept at encouraging clan rivalries and conflicts and battles were engaged throughout the empire. This of course suited the Shogun very well, while all his subordinate daimyo fought each other they were unlkikely to conspire against him. Samurai use continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status but traditional armours were no longer necessary for war, but still for battle
A Super Shinto Samurai Sword Signed Mutsunokami Fujiwara Toshinage Beautiful polished blade. Circa 1670 with a full suite of superb Goto mounts of takebori cranes including the tsuba and menuki. This katana we believe is a katana representating the work of the smith Toshinage who worked for Toudo clan in Tsu, Ise province, possibly with a special demand from a Bushi in Ise province. The smith Toshinaga with the Musunokami prefix title had moved from Awa province to Kyoto with his elder brother Toshinaga with the Yamashironokami title and younger brother Toshinaga with the Musashinokami title, all three being brothers of repute. All of them declared that they were a descendant of Hasebe Kunishige. Toshinaga then moved to Ise province to work for Toudo feudal lord in Tsu, Ise province exclusively. Toudo Takatsugu ( January 4, 1602 – December 20, 1676) was a Japanese daimyo of the early Edo period. He was the 2nd daimyo from the Todo clan to rule Tsu Domain in Ise and Iga Provinces
A Superb 'Yasukuni Shrine' Sword Tachi Signed Ikeda Yasumitsu, The shrine and its site was chosen personally by the Meiji Emperor. In shira saya signed and dated[ though some of the date is obscured]. The epitome of collecting 20th century WW2 blades are the famed Yasukuni shrine swords, of which only around 8,100 were ever made and Yasumitsu was one of the greatest of them all. This is only the 3rd Yasumitsu Yasukuni shrine sword we have had in 40 years. Ikeda Yasumitsu was born in 1879. His given name was Shuji, and he was originally from Yamagata Prefecture. He became a member of Nihonto Tanren Foundation as well as Sakite, Abe Shigeo and Murakami Ensaku. Given the Yasukuni smith name “ Yasumitsu “ by the war minister, Araki Sadeo on 15th of December 1933.He retired on 4th of October 1939. He was still in a position of leadership and made a small number of swords after his retirement. Left the foundation and went back to his hometown, where he died in early 1941. Number of swords produced at Nihonto Tanren Kai: Approx. 1,100 swords. He donated a sword to the Yasukuni Shrine in 1933, and made a stunning sword for Prince Mikasa in the occasion of his coming-of-age celebration in 1934. He also donated a sword to the festival of the 700th anniversary of the retired- Emperor Gotoba in March 1939. The Shrine is one of Japan's most revered places but due to it's militarist nature still very controversial. Many believe there is no better or desirable sword to own from Japan's WW2 history, than a fine sword from one of the 8,100 made at the Shrine. A Japanese WW2 army officer's Yasukuni shrine sword by " Yasumitsu " Yasumitsu was born in Yamagata pref. on Nov. 2, 1879. He is grandson of Ikeda Kazuhide who was a student of Suishinshi Masahide. He is the 10th generation Ikeda Kazumitsu, in 1933 he become a master of Yasukuni shrine sword smith and retired in 1940. Yasuhiro, Yasunori and Yasumitsu are the most desirable smiths from the Yasukuni shrine and their blades are not often seen on the market. A picture in the gallery of the Emperor Hirohito visiting the shrine in 1935 and a delegation from the Hitler Youth visiting the Shrine in 1938. The site for the Yasukuni Shrine, originally named Tokyo Shokonsha ( "shrine to summon the souls"), was chosen by order of the Meiji Emperor. The shrine was established in 1869, in the wake of the Boshin War, in order to honour the souls of those who died fighting for the Emperor. It initially served as the "apex" of a network of similar shrines throughout Japan that had originally been established for the souls of various feudal lords' retainers, and which continued to enshrine local individuals who died in the Emperor's service. Following the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, the Emperor had 6,959 souls of war dead enshrined at Tokyo Shokonsha. In 1879, the shrine was renamed Yasukuni Jinja. The name Yasukuni, quoted from the phrase in the classical-era Chinese text Zuo Zhuan (Scroll 6, 23rd Year of Duke Xi), literally means "Pacifying the Nation" and was chosen by the Meiji Emperor. The name is formally written as using obsolete (pre-war) kyujitai character forms. By the 1930s, the military government sought centralized state control over memorialization of the war dead, giving Yasukuni a more central role. Enshrinements at Yasukuni were originally announced in the government's Official Gazette so that the souls could be treated as national heroes, but this practice ended in April 1944, and the identities of the spirits were subsequently concealed from the general public. The shrine had a critical role in military and civilian morale during the war era as a symbol of dedication to the Emperor. Enshrinement at Yasukuni signified meaning and nobility to those who died for their country. During the final days of the war, it was common for soldiers sent on kamikaze suicide missions to say that they would "meet again at Yasukuni" following their death. After World War II, the US-led Occupation Authorities issued the Shinto Directive, which ordered the separation of church and state and forced Yasukuni Shrine to become either a secular government institution or a religious institution independent from the Japanese government. Yasukuni Shrine has been privately funded and operated since 1946, when it was elected to become an individual religious corporation independent of the Association of Shinto Shrines. The GHQ planned to burn down the Yasukuni Shrine and build a dog race course in its place. However, Father Bruno Bitter of the Roman Curia and Father Patrick Byrne of Maryknoll insisted to GHQ that honoring their war dead is the right and duty of citizens everywhere, and GHQ decided not to destroy the Yasukuni shrine. Moreover, the Roman Curia reaffirmed the Instruction Pluries Instanterque in 1951. 40.540 inches long approx overall in shira saya. 28.25 inch long blade
A Superb Ancient Early Koto Samurai Sword Katana Around 700 years old, from the Genko Wars, a stunning blade with most attractive hamon. Original Edo period silver hilt mounts [fushi kashira] Koto period pierced sukashi iron round tsuba with sakura mon. Ishime [stone finish] lacuer saya with carved buffalo horn kurigata. The blade is in original Edo polish and shows small defensive hand to hand combat cuts to the sides. The Genko War (1331–1333) also known as the Genko Incident was a civil war in Japan which marked the fall of the Kamakura shogunate and end of the power of the Hojo clan. The war thus preceded the Nanboku-ch? period and the rise of the Ashikaga shogunate. Genk? is the name of the Japanese era corresponding to the period 1331–1334. Throughout much of the Kamakura period, the shogunate was controlled by the Hojo clan, whose members held the title of shikken (regent for the shogun), and passed it on within the clan. The Emperor was little more than a figurehead, holding no real administrative power. In 1331, Emperor Go-Daigo plotted to seize power and overthrow the shogunate in Kamakura. However, he was betrayed by a trusted adviser Fujiwara Sadafusa. The Emperor fled Kyoto with the Sacred Treasures and sought refuge in a secluded monastery overlooking the Kizu River, called Kasagi. The monastery was attacked by Bakufu troops in the Siege of Kasagi. The emperor managed to escape, but only temporarily, and was subsequently banished to the Oki Islands. The shogunate then enthroned Emperor Kgon. The Emperor's son Prince Morinaga continued to fight, leading his father's supporters alongside Kusunoki Masashige. Emperor Go-Daigo escaped Oki in the spring of 1333, two years after his exile, with the help of Nawa Nagatoshi and his family, raising an army at Funagami Mountain in Hoki Province Meanwhile, Ashikaga Takauji, the chief general of the Hojo family, turned against the Hojo and fought for the Emperor in the hopes of being named shogun. Takauji entered Kyoto on 19 June and Go-Daigo entered the Palace at the end of July 1333. Simultaneously, Nitta Yoshisada led his army on a campaign through Kozuke and Musashi provinces culminating in the siege of Kamakura, setting fire to the city, and destroying the Kamakura shogunate
A Superb Ancient Japanese [Nodachi] Katana Engraved With Buddhist Bonji Blade around 650 years old, formerly a Nodachi [an early samurai warriors so called 'great sword']. Simple yet very fine shakudo fittings and a Koto period o sukashi tuba in iron of the same age as the blade. The original Edo period silk tsuke-ito [hilt binding] is wrapped over a patinated copper dragon fly menuki and a flower menuki. The blade is is Edo polish and shows a superb grain in the hada and a thin irregular sugaha hamon. The bonji horimono under the tsuke is the Buddist symbol of Fudo Myoo 'Almighty Strength, Middle Guard' , the the other horimono, is Kongoyasha Myoo, " Power, North Guardian". Bonji were in use since the late Kamakura period [the 1300's]. Before that religious inscriptions were made in Chinese, but with the spreading Shingon-Buddhism Sanscrit became popular. Sanskrit characters (or rather pictograhs) used on swords are called Bonji or Shuji. They are readings of the various incarnations of Buddha. Very slight signs of old battle wear. Odachi were extremely long and very rare swords, used in battle in the ancient warring days. This sword is an absolute beauty, both ancient and enchanting, and fitted with stunning Edo mounts of simple but super quality. The original Edo period saya simple black lacquer. The tang has three intersperced mekugiana, the current one being several inches from the others, which would indicate it was an incredibly long sword, a nodachi or odachi. To qualify as an odachi, the sword in question must have had an original blade length over 3 shaku (35.79 inches or 90.91 cm). However, as with most terms in Japanese sword arts, there is no exact definition of the size of an odachi. The odachi's importance died off after the Siege of Osaka of 1615 (the final battle between Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyori). The Bakufu government set a law which prohibited holding swords above a set length (in Genna 3 (1617), Kan'ei 3 (1626) and Shoho2 (1645)). After the law was put into practice, odachi were cut down to the shorter legal size. This is one of the reasons why odachi are so rare. Since then many odachi were shortened to use as katana, we feel this may well have been when this blade was shortened. Odachi [or Nodachi] were very difficult to produce because their length makes heat treatment in a traditional way more complicated: The longer a blade is, the more difficult (or expensive) it is to heat the whole blade to a homogenous temperature, both for annealing and to reach the hardening temperature. The quenching process then needs a bigger quenching medium because uneven quenching might lead to warping the blade. The method of polishing is also different. Because of their size, Odachi were usually hung from the ceiling or placed in a stationary position to be polished, unlike normal swords which are moved over polishing stones. Due to the official instruction to limit the size of swords surviving full length No-dachi effectively no longer exist in the general collecting world. The Kamakura period [ Kamakura jidai 1185–1333] is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shogun, Minamoto no Yoritomo. The period is known for the emergence of the samurai, the warrior caste, and for the establishment of feudalism in Japan. The Kamakura period ended in 1333 with the destruction of the shogunate and the short reestablishment of imperial rule under Emperor Go-Daigo by Ashikaga Takauji, Nitta Yoshisada, and Kusunoki Masashige. The Kamakura period marks the transition to land-based economies and a concentration of advanced military technologies in the hands of a specialized fighting class. Lords required the loyal services of vassals, who were rewarded with fiefs of their own. The fief holders exercised local military rule. 29.5 inch blade from tsuba to tip.
A Superb Ancient Samurai Aikuchi Tanto Dagger Around 600 Years Oid Its complete and matching Edo period fittings are all in kiri wood from the pawlonia tree, and most beautiful and unusual. It also has a matching kiri wood kodzuka and split chopstick kogai. Good undulating gunome hamon. Circular dragon menuki, and a the saya mount of a pair of relief ponies in bronze and gold. Tanto first began to appear in the Heian period, however these blades lacked artistic qualities and were purely weapons. In the Early Kamakura period high quality tanto with artistic qualities began to appear, and the famous Yoshimitsu (the greatest tanto maker in Japanese history) began his forging. Tanto production increased greatly around the Muromachi period and then dropped off in the Shinto period. Shinto period tanto are quite rare. Tanto were mostly carried by Samurai; commoners did not generally carry them. 16.5 inches long overall, blade 9.5 inches tsuba to tip.
A Superb And Fine Quality Edo Era Tsuba Of A Seated Sage Takebori carved figure decorated in pure gold and silver and gold ivy leaves and tendrils. Round iron plate. Copper sekigane. The tsuba is usually a round, ovoid or occasionally squarish guard at the end of the tsuka of bladed Japanese weapons, like the katana and its various declinations, tachi, wakizashi, tanto, naginata etc. They contribute to the balance of the weapon and to the protection of the hand. The tsuba was mostly meant to be used to prevent the hand from sliding onto the blade during thrusts as opposed to protecting from an opponent's blade. The chudan no kamae guard is determined by the tsuba and the curvature of the blade. The diameter of the average katana tsuba is 7.5–8 centimetres (3.0–3.1 in), wakizashi tsuba is 6.2–6.6 cm (2.4–2.6 in), and tanto tsuba is 4.5–6 cm (1.8–2.4 in). During the Muromachi period (1333–1573) and the Momoyama period (1573–1603) Tsuba were more for functionality than for decoration, being made of stronger metals and designs. During the Edo period (1603–1868) tsuba became more ornamental and made of less practical metals such as gold. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other. The tsuba has north and south kuchi-beni. Literally "lipstick", but refers to the copper plugs of the nakago-ana. Their function is to secure the tsuba firmly when mounted on a blade. These plugs are sometimes called sekigane.
A Superb and Imposing Shinto Samurai Sword Circa 1650 With a beautiful long blade showing a fine suguha hamon. Higo style mounts and an iron tsuba decorated with flowers the match the fushi kashira. Like European knights, the samurai served a lord (daimyo). In 1600, after a long period of conflict among rival daimyo, the victorious Tokugawa Shogun discouraged armed civil warfare, maintained the samurai's traditional status, so internecine warfare continued unabated. The sword and the horse remained symbols of their power. By the time Ieyasu Tokugawa unified Japan under his rule at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, only samurai were permitted to wear the sword. A samurai was recognized by his carrying the feared daisho, the ‘big sword, little sword’ of the warrior. These were the battle katana, the ‘big sword,’ and the wakizashi, the ‘little sword.’ The name katana derives from two old Japanese written characters or symbols: kata, meaning’side,’ and na, or ‘edge.’ Thus a katana is a single-edged sword that has had few rivals in the annals of war, either in the East or the West. Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan’s knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai — a very real matter of life or death — that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: ‘The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated.’ European knights and Japanese samurai have some interesting similarities. Both groups rode horses and wore armour. Both came from a wealthy upper class. And both were trained to follow strict codes of moral behaviour. In Europe, these ideals were called chivalry; the samurai code was called Bushido, "the way of the warrior." The rules of chivalry and Bushido both emphasize honour, self-control, loyalty, bravery, and military training. 43 inches long overall, blade tsuba to tip 30.5 inches long
A Superb Edo Period Japanese Retainers Jingasa Helmet Of octagonal kabuto form, up-turned brim, brown lacquered overall with gilt painted Kono Sekiyama family hiki (san) mon and ornamental tehen-kanemono. This crest is awarded by the court to retainers. The retainers also awarded the crest to vassals who had performed exemplary deeds. Apart from protection (the main function), a jingasa carried out the functions essential to caps: sunshade and rainshelter. It played too the role of a marker indicating the status of the wearer’s family in society. They were used as a container or weapon too. Jingasa developed both in shape and decoration during the Edo era (1603-1867) and were a symbol of samurai culture. The Jingasa was a conical helmet most commonly worn with Ashigaru Armour. It was typically made of hardened lacquered leather, but also sometimes with iron. The jingasa would also commonly be marked with the mon of the lord or clan to help identify the warrior's side on a battlefield. Overall in very nice condition for age with small lacquer wear marks.
A Superb Edo Period Samurai Jingasa War Hat Helmet A Jingasa Ichimonji Gasa, circa 1800. The clan mon is Kushibuchi-ka kamon A lacquer over cloth and paper constructed helmet, as is traditional of the era. The most used and famous are the various round jingasa that are basically flat with just a small raised central part. Akemi Masaharu calls this type ichimonji gasa (‘straight-line hats’), hira gasa (‘flat hats’) or nuri gasa (‘lacquered hats’). The vast majority of these are made in what Akemi Masaharu calls the ‘dry lacquer technique’. This would involve gluing layers of cloth and / or paper together into a wooden mould, perhaps with some thin wood or bamboo strips as reinforcement, until a sufficient thickness was obtained, then lacquering. An alternative was to make them from coiled twisted paper strings, with each turn sewn to the next with another string. When lacquered, the whole structure was stiffened sufficiently to hold its shape. In both cases the result is a lightweight basic shape that could be individualised with decorations in lacquer. Not all of these are made in this way. Most ichimonji jingasa are black lacquered on top with the owner’s, or his lord’s, kamon in gold on the front. No liner. Areas of lacquer surface cracking as usual for antique lacquer helmets of this type
A Superb Japanese Samurai Wakezashi By Kanenori, Made For Sukechika A most beautiful 500 year old samurai Wakezashi museum piece, that has remained in it's Edo fittings that have been untouched for almost 150 years. Furthermore it is also very unusual indeed, in that it bears two signed names. The first, by it's creator, the master smith Kanenori, the second, Sukechika, which very likely would be the samurai for whom it was created, or presented. This sword has a most beautiful, large and impressive blade, though not long, and it bears superb and beautiful polish. It has fine early, Higo iron mounts, decorated with pure gold. The tsuba is iron and decorated with the old Japanese tradition of naming years after an animal. Such at the rat, the horse, the goat and the snake etc. It's kodzuka is very rare, in that it's hilt is a representation of a formed samurai sword's tang with it's signature with the large chrysanthemum mon. This is a rare and very desireable type of kodzuka. The sword's blade has a fabulous choji hamon with incredible detail and activity, typical of Kanenori, and the blade is Koto period. This is a wakezashi of great beauty and sophistication by one of the highly respected family of smiths from the Koto period
A Superb Japanese Shinshinto Hidden Fan Dagger Tanto Wide and substantial blade in superbly beautiful polish. Edo period 19th century, with carved wood and lacquered case, nice blade with return false edge. A photo in the gallery from Edo Japan of a seated high ranking samurai holding his tachi and war fan. Another samurai standing also with fan and daisho through his obi. Samurai sometimes disguised their blades as inoffensive items, such as cleverly made walking sticks or other common objects such as fans. Their ancestors, the classical warriors, overlooked nothing which could be used as a weapon. Also deprived of their swords by law in the Meji era, late 19th century samurai had to rely even more on their own ingenuity and resourcefulness for protection against thieves, hoodlums, bandits and intrigue. A Japanese war fan is a fan designed for use in warfare. Several types of war fans were used by the samurai class of feudal Japan and each had a different look and purpose. One particularly famous legend involving war fans concerns a direct confrontation between Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin at the fourth battle of Kawanakajima. Kenshin burst into Shingen's command tent on horseback, having broken through his entire army, and attacked; his sword was deflected by Shingen's war fan. It is not clear whether Shingen parried with a tessen, a dansen uchiwa, or some other form of fan. Nevertheless, it was quite rare for commanders to fight directly, and especially for a general to defend himself so effectively when taken so off-guard. Minamoto no Yoshitsune is said to have defeated the great warrior monk Saito Musashibo Benkei with a tessen. Araki Murashige is said to have used a tessen to save his life when the great warlord Oda Nobunaga sought to assassinate him. Araki was invited before Nobunaga, and was stripped of his swords at the entrance to the mansion, as was customary. When he performed the customary bowing at the threshold, Nobunaga intended to have the room's sliding doors slammed shut onto Araki's neck, killing him. However, Araki supposedly placed his tessen in the grooves in the floor, blocking the doors from closing. Types of Japanese war fans; Gunsen were folding fans used by the average warriors to cool themselves off. They were made of wood, bronze, brass or a similar metal for the inner spokes, and often used thin iron or other metals for the outer spokes or cover, making them lightweight but strong. Warriors would hang their fans from a variety of places, most typically from the belt or the breastplate, though the latter often impeded the use of a sword or a bow. Tessen were folding fans with outer spokes made of heavy plates of iron which were designed to look like normal, harmless folding fans or solid clubs shaped to look like a closed fan. Samurai could take these to places where swords or other overt weapons were not allowed, and some swordsmanship schools included training in the use of the tessen as a weapon. The tessen was also used for fending off knives and darts, as a throwing weapon, and as an aid in swimming. Gunbai (Gumbai), Gunpai (Gumpai) or dansen uchiwa were large solid open fans that could be solid iron, metal with wooden core, or solid wood, which were carried by high-ranking officers. They were supposedly used to ward off arrows, as a sunshade, and to signal to troops. 12 inches long overall. 7 inch blade
A Superb Koto Battle Katana Signed Kashu ju Fujiwara Ietsugu,1550 Kashu ju fujiwara Ietsugu school, a school of swordsmiths that were most highly prized by all samurai and known for the source of superbly effective and reliable swords for battle. Finely mounted, in shibui battle-sword form, in fully matching koshirae sword mounts and signed tsuba based around a water buffalo, partially supine, beneath a crescent moon and clouds. The fushi has a water buffalo supine beneath clouds, fushi has a silver crescent moon partially covered in silver clouds with engraved clouds, the signed tsuba has another water buffalo. The menuki under the wrap are dragons. The blade has a supern hamon. The original Edo period lacquer saya is of super quality despite its shibui quietness. Kaga - Hashizume Kunitsugu School. Ietsuga started in the Kyoroku era (1528-1532) and was ending in the Koji era (1555-1558). Ietsugu and his descendants are called Hashizume school as they lived in Hashizume town in Kaga province. Also they had been prized by warriors from long ago for the name of smith Ietsugu that means "Inheritance of a House" and also has been called as "Kaga-aoe" because they adopted the name of Ietsugu that originated from the Ietsugu in Aoe school. The combination of the buffalo horns and crescent moon can be reflected on samurai armour kabuto [helmets], such as was said to have been worn by Yamamoto Kansuke who was a noted samurai of the 16th century who was one of Takeda Shingen’s most trusted Twenty-Four Generals. Also known by his formal name, Haruyuki. He was a brilliant strategist, and is particularly known for his plan which led to victory in the fourth battle of Kawanakajima against Uesugi Kenshin. However, Kansuke never lived to see his plan succeed; thinking it to have failed, he charged headlong into the enemy ranks, dying in battle. In the book of Japanese folklore "Strange Tales of the Crescent Moon" The princess Neiwanjo rides upon a water buffalo as she approaches Chinzei Hachirô Tametomo Tametomo on the Okinawan shore. Tametomo is the famous seven feet tall giant samurai, a celebrated archer whose bow was more than eight feet long and required the strength of three ordinary men to bend it. He could shoot arrows — their heads as large as spears — with such force that they could sink an enemy ship. Said to have chased away the god of smallpox,
A Superb Presentation Samurai Sword of 1550 From The Pitt-Rivers Collection Bearing the Emperor's personal mon [clan crest] habaki. In original presentation storage case. Inscribed [as a basic translation] as; A Fine Sharp Sword, presented to the Chief of Staff [in Japanese] Wickham? This may represent a presentation to a visiting British notable or military officer during the Imperial Meiji reign. This sword came from the collection of the late William Gronow Davis MFH, and formerly the Pitt-Rivers collection. William Gronow Davis was the lifelong partner of the late Michael Pitt-Rivers. He moved to King John’s House, Tollard Royal, on the idyllic Rushmore Estate in 1961. His estates collection came from Michael Pitt-Rivers home, King John’s House, which was a former Royal hunting lodge restored by his grandfather General Augustus Pitt Rivers. The general's collection of 22,000 pieces founded the world famous Pitt-Rivers Museum at Oxford University. Some of his collection he retained, and thus some, in due course, was eventually bequethed to his grandson, and in due turn to his partner the late William Gronow Davis. This sword was thus, originaly, part of the Pitt-Rivers Collection, of world renown and repute, as one of the finest personal collections of anthropological artifacts from the Far East, Middle East, Asiatics, Africa and the Americas, including a superb collection of Japanese artifcats and Noh masks. Why this sword [and another we have] were kept and not donated to the museum is not known. The sword is Koto period around 1550, the central theme is all original iron Edo period fittings of fushi and tsuba representing dragons, as well as it's stunning original Edo era lacquer saya, finely decorated with a dragon. The menuki represent flowers and the kashira is in cushion form in carved buffallo horn. It has a stunning ribbed copper habaki of the Emperor's chrysanthemum mon [crest] and the blade has a fine suguha hamon and it's silk cord hilt wrap is perished which we can also replace if required. Under the sword, within it's presentation case, is it's original Edo era silk bag. This bag is in an all but relic state but an important artifact to keep. Pitt Rivers' interests in archaeology and ethnology began in the 1850s, during postings overseas, and he became a noted scientist while he was a serving military officer. He was elected, in the space of five years, to the Ethnological Society of London (1861), the Society of Antiquaries of London (1864) and the Anthropological Society of London (1865). By the time he retired he had amassed ethnographic collections numbering tens of thousands of items from all over the world. Influenced by the evolutionary writings of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer, he arranged them typologically and (within types) chronologically. He viewed archaeology as an extension of anthropology and, as consequence, built up matching collections of archaeological and ethnographic objects to show longer developmental sequences – to support his views on cultural evolution. This style of arrangement, designed to highlight evolutionary trends in human artefacts, was a revolutionary innovation in museum design. Pitt Rivers' ethnological collections form the basis of the Pitt Rivers Museum which is still one of Oxford's attractions. The blade has now been polished and looks beautiful.
A Superb Quality Edo Period Gosuko Samurai Armour 17th to 19th Century The cuirass and thigh guards are all inticately laced and the overlapping do plates are mounted with gold dome head rivets . The edging is all elaborated engraved over the gilt finish. The higher class samurai wore elaborate tatami armour, while the lower class samurai and retainers wore a plainer basic version. Japanese armour is thought to have evolved from the armour used in ancient China and Korea. Cuirasses and helmets were manufactured in Japan as early as the 4th century. Tanko, worn by foot soldiers and keiko, worn by horsemen were both pre-samurai types of early Japanese cuirass constructed from iron plates connected together by leather thongs. DuringHeian period 794 to 1185 the Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or do. Japanese armour makers started to use leather (nerigawa) and lacquer was used to weather proof the armor parts. By the end of the Heian period the Japanese cuirass had arrived at the shape recognized as being distinctly samurai. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) which these cuirasses were now being made from. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours). Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered a relatively peaceful Edo period. However, the Shoguns of the Tokugawa period were most adept at encouraging clan rivalries and conflicts and battles were engaged throughout the empire. This of course suited the Shogun very well, while all his subordinate daimyo fought each other they were unlkikely to conspire against him. Samurai use continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status but traditional armours were no longer necessary for war, but still for battle. During the Edo period light weight, portable and secret hidden armours became popular as there was still a need for personal protection. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, peasant revolts required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armour jacket) and armoured sleeves as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing. Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armour) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane). Armour continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji period) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armour happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion. The Ii clan [who wore distinctive salmon red lacquer armour and helmets] were renown and fearsome fighters of remarkable tenacity, highly feared and respected in equal measure. Famous on Japanese samurai history is the Ii family’s red lacquered suits of armour, helmets and or swords. Deep salmon red, as opposed to the more usual black and brown, and worn by all from the lord down to the foot soldiers, it marked them out on the battlefield and advertised their origin to those who stood opposed to them. Known as the Red Devils, samurai under the rule of the Ii family played an integral part in the battles that ended the civil war and raised Tokugawa Ieyasu to the office of shogun, gaining great fame and a fierce reputation. Ii Naomasa, served as one of Tokugawa Ieyasu's generals, and received the fief of Hikone in Omi Province as a reward for his conduct in battle at Sekigahara. The colour of their armour meant that they were the easiest to recognize on the painted screens that depicted the great events of Japanese history, showing that the Ii family understood the benefits of good public relations. The Ii and a few sub-branches remained daimyo for the duration of the Edo period. Photo in the gallery show the armour displayed with a suitable antique menpo [face armour] and helmet this is for illustration purposes only. The item for sale is the armour only, not the helmet or menpo.
A Superb Samurai Signed Wakazashi Late Koto to Early Shinto Era Signed Bishu Osafune ju Masaharu Koto era circa 1600. With a most attractive Maru Gata signed Tsuba for wakazashi antique Japanese traditional forged iron Tsuba depicted a Chrysanthemum Imperial Kamon. Natural deep patina. Hand stamped copper fushi and Iron higo style kashira. Gold silk binding over menuki and gianrt rayskin. Brown ishime lacquer saya with kodzuka pocket, with a late iron handled kodzuka [side knife] decorated with tokebari shishi lion dogs. Bright polish blade with nice clear hamon.
A Superb Shinto Samurai Dragon Handachi Katana 18th Century A fantastic battle sword with mounts of fine quality, all original Edo period, fully matching as a complete suite of fittings, including the Iron tsuba, and made for the blade and remained with it for almost 300 years. The koshirae are takebori, iron with superbly crafted and chisseled gold inlaid water dragons. The blade is wonderful with a most elaborate gunome hamon. Japanese dragons are diverse legendary creatures in Japanese mythology and folklore. Japanese dragon myths amalgamate native legends with imported stories about dragons from China, Korea and India. The style of the dragon was heavily influenced by the Chinese dragon. Like these other Asian dragons, most Japanese ones are water deities associated with rainfall and bodies of water, and are typically depicted as large, wingless, serpentine creatures with clawed feet. The samurai were roughly the equivalent of feudal knights. Employed by the shogun or daimyo, they were members of hereditary warrior class that followed a strict "code" that defined their clothes, armour and behavior on the battlefield. But unlike most medieval knights, samurai warriors could read and they were well versed in Japanese art, literature and poetry. Samurai endured for almost 700 years, from 1185 to 1867. Samurai families were considered the elite. They made up only about six percent of the population and included daimyo and the loyal soldiers who fought under them. Samurai means “one who serves." Samurai were expected to be both fierce warriors and lovers of art, a dichotomy summed up by the Japanese concepts of bu (“the way of life of the warrior”) and bun (“the artistic, intellectual and spiritual side of the samurai”). Originally conceived as away of dignifying raw military power, the two concepts were synthesized in feudal Japan and later became a key feature of Japanese culture and morality.The quintessential samurai was Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary early Edo-period swordsman who reportedly killed 60 men before his 30th birthday and was also a painting master. Members of a hierarchal class or caste, samurai were the sons of samurai and they were taught from an early age to unquestionably obey their mother, father and daimyo. When they grew older they were trained by Zen Buddhist masters in meditation and the Zen concepts of impermanence and harmony with nature. The were also taught about painting, calligraphy, nature poetry, mythological literature, flower arranging, and the tea ceremony. As part of their military training, samurai were taught to sleep with their right arm underneath them so if they were attacked in the middle of the night and their the left arm was cut off the could still fight with their right arm. Samurai that tossed and turned at night were cured of the habit by having two knives placed on either side of their pillow. Samurai have been describes as "the most strictly trained human instruments of war to have existed." They were expected to be proficient in the marital arts of aikido and kendo as well as swordsmanship and archery---the traditional methods of samurai warfare---which were viewed not so much as skills but as art forms that flowed from natural forces that harmonized with nature. An individual didn't become a full-fledged samurai until he wandered around the countryside as begging pilgrim for a couple of years to learn humility. When this was completed they achieved samurai status and receives a salary from his daimyo paid from taxes (usually rice) raised from the local populace. Swords in Japan have long been symbols of power and honour and seen as works of art. Often times swordsmiths were more famous than the people who used them.
A Superb Tanto by Naomasa, Student of the Great Shinshinto Smith Naotane Signed Nihongo kaji echizen no kami Naomasa with chrysanthemum kikumon. Dated in cursive script; soshu, Meiji 2 [1869]. The use of the chrysanthemum kikumon was an honour, limited to swordsmiths who were allowed to use it by permission. The blade is dated, and signed by Naomasa, who worked from 1854. He was a student of the famous swordsmith "Naotane", a premier teacher and founder of the Naotane School of Swordmaking in the Shin-Shinto period. Aikuchi tanto with all original Edo period fittings and original lacquer Edo saya with most interesting décor of Chinese coins and symbols [some thinning to the saya lacquer]. Original Edo polish. Kodzuka with signed blade. Complete with a shira saya [seperate bespoke wooden mounting] for storage or travel. With the beginning of the Kamakura period, tanto were forged to be more aesthetically pleasing, and hira and uchi-sori tanto were the most popular styles for wars in the kamakura period. Near the middle of the Kamakura period, more tanto artisans were seen, increasing the abundance of the weapon, and the kanmuri-otoshi style became prevalent in the cities of Kyoto and Yamato. Because of the style introduced by the tachi in the late Kamakura period, tanto began to be forged longer and wider. The introduction of the Hachiman faith became visible in the carvings in the tanto hilts around this time. The hamon (line of temper) is similar to that of the tachi, except for the absence of choji-midare, which is nioi and utsuri. Gunomi-midare and suguha are found to have taken its place. In Nambokucho, the tanto were forged to be up to forty centimetres as opposed to the normal one shaku (about thirty centimetres) length. The tanto blades became thinner between the uri and the omote, and wider between the ha and mune. At this point in time, two styles of hamon were prevalent: the older style, which was subtle and artistic, and the newer, more popular style. Blades could be of exceptional quality. As the end of the period neared, the average blade narrowed and the sori became shallow. The aikuchi is a tanto koshirae where the fushi is flush with the mouth of the saya. There is no tsuba on this form of tanto.
A Superb Yasukuni Shrine Smith Sword by Yasuhiro With Makino Clan Kamon In very good order indeed by the founding smith of the shrine. Early gunto fittings with early type pierced tsuba all matching numbers, and a company officer's knot. The mon on the kabutogane is silver of the Makino clan and the clan are a daimyo branch of the samurai Minamoto clan in Edo period Japan. The most significant senior Makino in WW2 was Count Makino Nobuaki, who was born to a samurai family in Kagoshima, Satsuma domain (present day Kagoshima Prefecture), Makino was the second son of Okubo Toshimichi, but adopted into the Makino family at a very early age. During WW1 he was Foreign Minister and he was appointed to be Japan's ambassador plenipotentiary to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. In February 1921, he became Imperial Household Minister and elevated in rank to shishaku (viscount). Behind the scenes, he strove to improve Anglo-Japanese and Japanese-American relations, and he shared Saionji Kinmochi's efforts to shield the Emperor from direct involvement in political affairs. In 1925, he was appointed Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan. He became a devoted personal advisor to the Emperor and it would be typical that a sword of this quality and significance would be presented and owned by one of the family of that highly important figure, and even potentially presented by the Emperor himself, as Yasukuni onkashi-to swords often were [see below], especially given the status of Count Makino and the respect awarded him and his clan by the Emperor personally. Signed To to ju nin Kansei Kunimori Kin Saku for when he set up his own workshop. The Shrine is one of Japan's most revered places but due to it's militarist nature still very controversial. Many believe there is no better or desirable sword to own from Japan's WW2 history, than a fine sword by a Shrine smith. A Japanese WW2 army officer's Yasukuni shrine sword smith by Yasuhiro. The Yasukuni Tanren Kai generally made swords for high-ranking military people using a sue-Koto Bizen-derived sugata. Exceptions were made for onkashi-to (swords made for the emperor to present to distinguished graduates of military staff colleges) and for homei-to ('rewarding swords'). This is a beautiful sword by Miyaguchi Yasuhiro, also known as Toshihiro (real name: Miyaguchi Shigeru), A Yasukuni shrine smith. Miyaguchi Toshihiro / Yasuhiro, (1897-1956) also signed Kunimori, was the 3rd generation of Miyaguchi Ikkansai, grandson of Miyaguchi Shigetoshi . He is of the Ikkansai Mon (school), "MINAMOTO KIYOMARO", was the greatest master of the Shinshinto period and was also of this school. He was trained by his father Masatoshi and later studied under Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu. Swords signed Kunimori were made on the grounds of Baron Okura Kishichiro's estate. In 1937 Kunimori became head instructor for Okura Tanrenjo. On December 23, 1932 the board of directors of the Yasukuni Shrine (Yasukuni shrine is devoted to the protection, and Memory of "SAMURAI, AND MILITARY WARRIORS") approved the establishment of the "Nihon To Tanren Kaji". Toshihiro was summoned and given the smith name Yasuhiro July 8th, 1933 by the war minister "Araki Sadao"! He was then appointed in charge of the Yasukuni Tanren Kai Foundation, he is also listed as one of the Founders. In 1933 he began producing swords at this well known, and prolific school of sword smiths. He worked at the Yasukuni shrine until 1936, where he produced approximately 500 swords. He was also given the the War Minister award at the Nihonto Tanren Kai held by the Dai Nippon Tosho Kyokai. Yasuhiro was skilled at horimono, which he learned from his cousin Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu. He also used the mei of "Miyaguchi Toshihiro" and "Miyaguchi Ikkansai Toshihiro". The site for the Yasukuni Shrine, originally named Tokyo Shokonsha ( "shrine to summon the souls"), was chosen by order of the Meiji Emperor. The shrine was established in 1869, in the wake of the Boshin War, in order to honor the souls of those who died fighting for the Emperor. It initially served as the "apex" of a network of similar shrines throughout Japan that had originally been established for the souls of various feudal lords' retainers, and which continued to enshrine local individuals who died in the Emperor's service. Following the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, the Emperor had 6,959 souls of war dead enshrined at Tokyo Shokonsha. In 1879, the shrine was renamed Yasukuni Jinja. The name Yasukuni, quoted from the phrase in the classical-era Chinese text Zuo Zhuan (Scroll 6, 23rd Year of Duke Xi), literally means "Pacifying the Nation" and was chosen by the Meiji Emperor. The name is formally written as using obsolete (pre-war) kyujitai character forms. By the 1930s, the military government sought centralized state control over memorialization of the war dead, giving Yasukuni a more central role. Enshrinements at Yasukuni were originally announced in the government's Official Gazette so that the souls could be treated as national heroes, but this practice ended in April 1944, and the identities of the spirits were subsequently concealed from the general public. The shrine had a critical role in military and civilian morale during the war era as a symbol of dedication to the Emperor. Enshrinement at Yasukuni signified meaning and nobility to those who died for their country. During the final days of the war, it was common for soldiers sent on kamikaze suicide missions to say that they would "meet again at Yasukuni" following their death. After World War II, the US-led Occupation Authorities issued the Shinto Directive, which ordered the separation of church and state and forced Yasukuni Shrine to become either a secular government institution or a religious institution independent from the Japanese government. Yasukuni Shrine has been privately funded and operated since 1946, when it was elected to become an individual religious corporation independent of the Association of Shinto Shrines. The GHQ planned to burn down the Yasukuni Shrine and build a dog race course in its place. However, Father Bruno Bitter of the Roman Curia and Father Patrick Byrne of Maryknoll insisted to GHQ that honouring their war dead is the right and duty of citizens everywhere, and GHQ decided not to destroy the Yasukuni shrine. Moreover, the Roman Curia reaffirmed the Instruction Pluries Instanterque in 1951. Pictures in the gallery of the Emperor Hirohito visiting the shrine in 1935, and a delegation from the Hitler Youth visiting the Shrine in 1938.
A Superb, Early, Koto, Katana Tsuba in Iron, The Rays of Buddha Pattern Circa 1500. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament. The tsuba has north and south kuchi-beni. Literally "lipstick", but refers to the copper plugs of the nakago-ana. Their function is to secure the tsuba firmly when mounted on a blade. These plugs are sometimes called sekigane.
A Superior Edo Period Samurai Maedate Helmet Adornment of an Oni Demon A maedate is a samurai adornment crest that affixes to the front of his armour helmet kabuto. They were removable and could be transferred to other helmets. Shown on a helmet kabuto for illustration puposes only. The maedate at its widest is 10.5 inches across. Although pricipally made as a samurai's helmet adornment they are highly collecatable in their own right as object d'art for display as fine Japanese works of art from the great Edo period of samurai history. Kabuto is a type of helmet first used by ancient Japanese warriors, and in later periods, they became an important part of the traditional Japanese armour worn by the samurai class and their retainers in feudal Japan. Japanese helmets dating from the fifth century (long before the rise of the samurai class) have been found in excavated tombs. Called mabizashi-tsuke kabuto (visor-attached helmet), the style of these ancient helmets came from China and Korea and they had a pronounced central ridge. The kabuto was an important part of the equipment of the samurai, and played a symbolic role as well, which may explain the Japanese expressions, sayings and codes related to them. One example is Katte kabuto no o o shimeyo ( "Tighten the string of the kabuto after winning the war"). This means don't lower your efforts after succeeding (compare to "not to rest on one's laurels"). Also, kabuto o nugu ( "to take off the kabuto") means to surrender Note that in Japanese language the word kabuto is an appellative, not a type description, and can refer to any combat helmet. The Edo period or Tokugawa period is the period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan, when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional daimyo. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population, and popular enjoyment of arts and culture. The shogunate was officially established in Edo on March 24, 1603, by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The period came to an end with the Meiji Restoration on May 3, 1868, after the fall of Edo.
A Superlative and Beautiful Koto Katana Circa 1500 A superb ancient samurai sword that would grace any fine collection of oriental art or compliment any residence albeit traditional or contemporary decorated. The classical beauty of samurai swords is remarkable, in that there is barely any kind of décor that is not improved with their addition. With fine Soten mounts of pure gold ponies grazing in a meadow and an iron and gold inlaid Soten sukashi tsuba depicting mandarin and companion crossing a bridge with a warrior guard armed with a polearm. Blade with a fine sugaha straight hamon in original Edo polish. Fine black silk wrap covering menuki of long. Fine black Edo lacquer saya with sageo of gold and brown woven silk. Of all the weapons that man has developed since our earliest days, few evoke such fascination as the samurai sword of Japan. To many of us in the, the movie image of the samurai in his fantastic armour, galloping into battle on his horse, his colourful personal flag, or sashimono, whipping in the wind on his back, has become the very symbol of Japan, the Empire of the Rising Sun. And, truly, to the samurai of real life, nothing embodied his warrior’s code of Bushido more than his sword, considered inseparable from his soul. Indeed, a sword was considered such a crucial part of a samurai’s life that when a young samurai was about to be born, a sword was brought into the bedchamber during the delivery. When the time came for an old samurai to die — and cross over into the ‘White Jade Pavilion of the Afterlife’ — his honoured sword was placed by his side. Even after death, a daimyo, or nobleman, believed he could count on his samurai who had followed him into the next world to use their keen blades to guard him against any demons, just as they had wielded their trusty weapons to defend him against flesh-and-blood enemies in this life. In a samurai family the swords were so revered that they were passed down from generation to generation, from father to son. If the hilt or scabbard wore out or broke, new ones would be fashioned for the all-important blade. The hilt, the tsuba (hand guard), and the scabbard themselves were often great art objects, with fittings sometimes of gold or silver. The hilt and scabbard were created from the finest hand crafted materials by the greatest artisans that have ever lived. Often, too, they ‘told’ a story from Japanese myths. Magnificent specimens of Japanese swords can be seen today in the Tokugawa Art Museum’s collection in Nagoya, Japan. Overall 37.5 inches long in saya
A Truly Ancient Samurai Tanto, Almost 800 Years old In original Edo period fine mounts [Edo 1603 to 1868]. The mounts are in iron and patinated copper decorated with dragon, a tiger and birds near sea nets. The lacquer on the saya is also decorated with a flight of geese over a jetty and small building. Likely used in the two great Mongol sea invasions of Japan that were defeated by the all powerful samurai. Made in the Kamakura period, in Japanese history, the period from 1192 to 1333, during which the basis of feudalism was firmly established. It was named for the city where Minamoto Yoritomo set up the headquarters of his military government, commonly known as the Kamakura shogunate. The samurai, members of a powerful military caste in feudal Japan, began as provincial warriors before rising to power in the 12th century with the beginning of the country’s first military dictatorship, known as the shogunate. As servants of the daimyos, or great lords, the samurai backed up the authority of the shogun and gave him power over the mikado (emperor). The samurai would dominate Japanese government and society until the Meiji Restoration of 1868 led to the abolition of the feudal system. The triumphant leader Minamoto Yoritomo–half-brother of Yoshitsune, whom he drove into exile–established the center of government at Kamakura. The establishment of the Kamakura Shogunate, a hereditary military dictatorship, shifted all real political power in Japan to the samurai. As Yoritomo’s authority depended on their strength, he went to great lengths to establish and define the samurai’s privileged status; no one could call himself a samurai without Yoritomo’s permission. Zen Buddhism, introduced into Japan from China around this time, held a great appeal for many samurai. Its austere and simple rituals, as well as the belief that salvation would come from within, provided an ideal philosophical background for the samurai’s own code of behavior. Also during the Kamakura period, the sword came to have a great significance in samurai culture. A man’s honour was said to reside in his sword, and the craftsmanship of swords–including these most skillfully hammered blades, decorated with fittings of copper or iron, some decorated with gold and silver inlay and rayskin bound tsuke [hilts]–became an art in itself. The strain of defeating two Mongol invasions at the end of the 13th century weakened the Kamakura Shogunate, which fell to a rebellion led by Ashikaga Takauji. The Ashikaga Shogunate, centered in Kyoto, began around 1336. For the next two centuries, Japan was in a near-constant state of conflict between its feuding territorial clans. After the particularly divisive Onin War of 1467-77, the Ashikaga shoguns ceased to be effective, and feudal Japan lacked a strong central authority; local lords and their samurai stepped in to a greater extent to maintain law and order. Despite the political unrest, this period–known as the Muromachi after the district of that name in Kyoto–saw considerable economic expansion in Japan. It was also a golden age for Japanese art, as the samurai culture came under the growing influence of Zen Buddhism. The tsuke binding silk [ito] appears very good but is in fact crumbling with age so we will be replacing it with original Japanese silk ito. Small picture in the gallery is The Mongol Invasion, tapestry by Kawasaki Jimbei II.
A Truly Spectacular Koto Katana Samurai "Odachi" Great Sword Circa 1500's This It has one of the most impressive and formidable blades one can ever see on such a sword. This sword has so much presence one can almost feel its history. A large and long blade with one of the most beautiful kinds of hamon and blade forms one can find. It has a hira-zukuri flattened side blade shape, very rarely found on long swords, with a stunningly well defined notare hamon, with a fine hi of maru-dome form. All of the original Edo fittings are Higo style decorated with gold lined samurai gunbai [war fans], and are of wonderful quality, the tsuba also decorated with gunsen and gunbai [war fans] on a lattice design, with pure gold inlaid flowers and tendrils around the rim. It is superbly complimentary to the fittings and of the same age. Unsigned o-suriage tang. 38 1/4 inches long overall, blade tsuba to tip 28 inches. Odachi swordplay styles differed from that of other Japanese swords, focusing on downward cuts.As battlefield weapons, Odachi were too long for samurai to carry on their waists like normal swords. There were two methods in which they could be carried: One was to carry it on one's back. However, this was seen as impractical as it was impossible for the wielder to draw it quickly. The other method was simply to carry the sheathed Odachi by hand. The trend during the Muromachi era was for the samurai carrying the Odachi to have a follower to help draw it. One possible use of Odachi is as large anti-cavalry weapons, to strike down the horse as it approaches. Alternatively, it could be used as a cavalry-on-cavalry weapon, with the long reach, increased weight and slashing area of the blade offering some advantages over spears, lances and smaller swords. We estimate that before this sword was shortened by official edict, for the Shogunal government set a law which prohibited holding swords above a set length (in 1617, 1626, and 1645), it would have had a cutting edge of 40 inches long or even more. Despite shortening the sword is still huge and weighs a formidable 1.5 kilos approx
A Truly Wonderful Ancient Koto Katana By Master Morimitsu, Made in 1460 SOLD…….Over 550 years old, and in stunning condition for its age, han dachi mounted. Morimitsu is good and well recognised master smith. It has all its original Edo period koshirae [sword mountings] including original Edo lacquer to the saya. It also has a stunning vibrant hamon with much impressive activity to the long blade, with fine wide hi [fullers] to both sides. The superb fully matching suite of mounts are are traditional Higo style, in iron, with surface pebbling. It also has a very fine Koto tsuba in iron with pure gold decorative features of delicate spring flowers. The menuki are absolutely superb quality of pure gold chisseled spring flowers on shakudo stems. The samurai were roughly the equivalent of feudal knights. Employed by the shogun or daimyo, they were members of hereditary warrior class that followed a strict "code" that defined their clothes, armour and behavior on the battlefield. But unlike most medieval knights, samurai warriors could read and they were well versed in Japanese art, literature and poetry. Samurai endured for almost 700 years, from 1185 to 1867. Samurai families were considered the elite. They made up only about six percent of the population and included daimyo and the loyal soldiers who fought under them. Samurai means “one who serves." Samurai were expected to be both fierce warriors and lovers of art, a dichotomy summed up by the Japanese concepts of bu (“the way of life of the warrior”) and bun (“the artistic, intellectual and spiritual side of the samurai”). Originally conceived as away of dignifying raw military power, the two concepts were synthesized in feudal Japan and later became a key feature of Japanese culture and morality.The quintessential samurai was Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary early Edo-period swordsman who reportedly killed 60 men before his 30th birthday and was also a painting master. Members of a hierarchal class or caste, samurai were the sons of samurai and they were taught from an early age to unquestionably obey their mother, father and daimyo. When they grew older they were trained by Zen Buddhist masters in meditation and the Zen concepts of impermanence and harmony with nature. The were also taught about painting, calligraphy, nature poetry, mythological literature, flower arranging, and the tea ceremony. As part of their military training, samurai were taught to sleep with their right arm underneath them so if they were attacked in the middle of the night and their the left arm was cut off the could still fight with their right arm. Samurai that tossed and turned at night were cured of the habit by having two knives placed on either side of their pillow. Samurai have been describes as "the most strictly trained human instruments of war to have existed." They were expected to be proficient in the marital arts of aikido and kendo as well as swordsmanship and archery---the traditional methods of samurai warfare---which were viewed not so much as skills but as art forms that flowed from natural forces that harmonized with nature. An individual didn't become a full-fledged samurai until he wandered around the countryside as begging pilgrim for a couple of years to learn humility. When this was completed they achieved samurai status and receives a salary from his daimyo paid from taxes (usually rice) raised from the local populace. Swords in Japan have long been symbols of power and honour and seen as works of art. Often times swordsmiths were more famous than the people who used them. Long 28 inch blade.
A Tsuba With A Chisseled Steel O-Takebori Shishi Inlaid With Gold Circa 1650. Owakazashi or Chisa Katana size. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other. The tsuba has north and south kuchi-beni. Literally "lipstick", but refers to the copper plugs of the nakago-ana. Their function is to secure the tsuba firmly when mounted on a blade. These plugs are sometimes called sekigane.
A Very Attractive Antique Tanto, Signed Blade With Oni Demon Décor Superb Shin-shinto blade, signed Munetsugu, with good undulating and extravagent hamon, red lacquer hi and fine gilt habaki. Carved hardwood fittings in over lacquered black fully carved with a demon hunter and an oni demon cowering behind a shield. The background is dominantly overlaid scales, to represent a stylzed dragon, rolling seas, and the kurigata [cord mount] is an oni mask.Oni are a kind of yokai from Japanese folklore, variously translated as demons, devils, ogres, or trolls. They are popular characters in Japanese art, literature and theatre. Depictions of oni vary widely but usually portray them as hideous, gigantic ogre-like creatures with sharp claws, wild hair, and two long horns growing from their heads. They are humanoid for the most part, but occasionally, they are shown with unnatural features such as odd numbers of eyes or extra fingers and toes.Their skin may be any number of colours, but red and blue are particularly common.
A Very Attractive Wakazashi Blade Masahide School Circa 1830 Signed gimei Suishinshi Masahide. In original Edo shirasaya, Edo polish and horimono. Not by the great master himself but made somewhat honorifically through his influence. Suishinshi Masahide is known as the founding father of the Shinshinto era. Early in his career, he aimed to recreate Sukehiro's beautiful toranba style hamon. Masahide devoted all his effort to mastering it. However, around the middle of his career, he changed his approach totally. The reason for the change is known from Masahide's published research. He observed that swords with a "Hade" (wide and gaudy) style hamon tend to break. Masahide wanted to abandon the artistic mentality that focused on the cosmetic beauty of the blade and return to the original function of Nihonto. His new approach was called "Fukko-to". The aim of it was to recapture the practical excellence of Kamakura period works. He wanted to make blades that cut well and were durable. It is an accepted theory that he was the founder of Shinshin-to. Masahide was born in Dewa province, present Yamagata pref. in 1750. It is said that he learned in his youth under Kunikane the Forth at Sendai or a smith forging farming tools. Masahide went to Edo and learned under Miyakawa Yoshihide, a swordsmith of Shitahara school on the introduction of a certain samurai at the age of 22. Masahide started serving the Akimoto family in 1774 and studied the method of forging sword from an independent standpoint. A daimyo; a feudal lord gave Masahide foreign steel called Namban-tetsu to study. On early works he was fond of brilliant Toran-ba modeled on Sukehiro that had a tendency to break so he tried to the revival of Koto blade forged in the Kamakura period aimed at the sharpness. He went to Edo in 1781 and learned Bizen-den under Ishido Korekazu, Soshu-den under Tsunahiro. Masahide was also an educational swordsmith to discipline an array of excellent pupils, Taikei Naotane, Hosokawa Masayoshi, Chounsai Tsunatoshi and others. Masahide passed away in 1825, aged 76. Suishinshi Masatsugu was a son of Kawabe Sadahide. Sadahide passed away at an early age so Masatsugu learned under Taikei Naotane who was a pupil of Suishinshi Masahide. Masatsugu worked as a retained swordsmith of the domain of Tatebayashi in Busyu province. He lived at Okachimachi in Edo. Masatsugu was so excellent among the Masahide clan to succeed the clan as the Third using the title Suishinshi. He passed away in 1860, aged 47. This sword was made at Tenmei 2nd year his aged 36. which is the most active age.
A Very Beautiful Koto Katana Signed Tadamitsu Around 500 Years Old This sword is signed Tadamitsu and dates to around 1505 during the heart of the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States period). It is a beautiful and impressive sword with a ubu-nakago (an unaltered tang). Hamon Chu-suguha (straight temperline), and shallow notare-kokoro (wave-like patterns within it) Jihada (surface skin), Tight itame hada (wood grain pattern) Blade length: 69.5cm tsuba to tip. Fushi kashira with kebori, fine line engraving of the Tiger in a Bamboo grove theme. Superb menuki of silver shi shi lion dogs inlaid with gold stars. The tiger has the power to control the wind, and wind is its constant companion, and bamboo can resist the strongest winds without breaking. Therefore, the two are distinctly balanced. Introduced through Buddhism, the tiger represents the three principals of strength, nobility, and courage. Based likely on the smith Bizen no Kuni Osafune Tadamitsu, but the signature is rather more faint than one would expect, so possibly a made by a pupil of his school. The hamon and grain capture the work beautifully. The saya is beautiful inlaid with tiny flecs of abilone shell that reflect the light stunningly. Overall 37 inches long in saya
A Very Fine & Beautiful Koto O-Tanto Circa 1550 Of large, impressive and powerful size, with a rare unokubi zukuri blade, but it is rarer still, as the tapered champhering on either side of the back edge is deliberately unequal [see photo]. Unokubi Zukuri literally means 'neck of the Cormorant' which refers to the tapering of the monouchi. Gilded raindrop habaki, pure gold decorated kurigata on the saya in the form af a dragon's head. The fushi on the tsuka is signed, bears further inscription to the side, possibly a poem or an indication of it's story, and is made of silver with gold highlights within the flower decoration. It has a kodzuka utility knife with a signed blade. All the fittings wrap and saya are original Edo period, the pure gold decoarted menuki are of clan mon [crests] the fushi is of carved buffallo horn and the tsuba in brass with silver inlaid lines. The ribbed décor black lacquer saya is a;lso original Edo period, has some lengthwise thin surface cracking, not surprising considering it's age, but not obtrusive. The tanto was invented partway through the Heian period. With the beginning of the Kamakura period, tanto were forged to be more aesthetically pleasing, and hira and uchi-sori tanto becoming the most popular styles. Near the middle of the Kamakura period, more tant? artisans were seen, increasing the abundance of the weapon, and the kanmuri-otoshi style became prevalent in the cities of Kyoto and Yamato. Because of the style introduced by the tachi in the late Kamakura period, tanto began to be forged longer and wider. The introduction of the Hachiman faith became visible in the carvings in the hilts around this time. The hamon (line of temper) is similar to that of the tachi, except for the absence of choji-midare, which is nioi and utsuri. Gunomi-midare and suguha are found to have taken its place. During the era of the Northern and Southern Courts, the tanto were forged to be up to forty centimetres as opposed to the normal one shaku (about thirty centimetres) length. The blades became thinner between the uri and the omote, and wider between the ha and mune. At this point in time, two styles of hamon were prevalent: the older style, which was subtle and artistic, and the newer, more popular style. With the beginning of the Muromachi period, constant fighting caused the greater production of blades. Blades that were custom-forged still were of exceptional quality. As the end of the period neared, the average blade narrowed and the curvature shallowed
A Very Fine Early Japanese Armour Piercing Tanto Signed and Dated 1558 Signed Bizen Osafune Kiyomitsu. With gilt and patinated handled kodzuka. O-sukashi koto tsuba inlaid with silver boars eyes. A delightful tanto in all original fittings and an Edo brown stone lacquer finish. Nice and beautiful blade in good polish showing a fine sugaha hamon. A very thick bladed tanto specifically designed to penetrate using a powerful thrust, either samurai armour or even a helmet. Wide narrow straight sided blade, with a narrow suguha hamon typical of the Koto era. Mounted in a plain wooden shirasaya mount that bears some kanji text on both sides of the tsuka. We have not had this translated yet. The bottom of the saya bears a carved image of a stern face. The yoroi-doshi "armour piercer" or "mail piercer" were one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihonto) that were worn by the samurai class as a weapon in feudal Japan. The yoroi-d?shi is an extra thick tanto, a long knife, which appeared in the Sengoku period (late Muromachi). The yoroi-doshi was made for piercing armour and for stabbing while grappling in close quarters. The weapon ranged in size from 20 cm to 24 cm, but some examples could be under 15 cm, with a "tapering mihaba, iori-mune, thick kasane at the bottom, and thin kasane at the top and occasionally moroha-zukuri construction". The motogasane (blade thickness) at the hamachi (the notch at the beginning of the cutting edge) can be up to a half-inch thick, which is characteristic of the yoroi-doshi. The extra thickness at the spine of the blade distinguishes the yoroi-doshi from a standard tanto blade. Yoroi-doshi were worn inside the belt on the back or on the right side with the hilt toward the front and the edge upward. Due to being worn on the right, the blade would have been drawn using the left hand, giving rise to the alternate name of metezashi or "horse-hand (i.e. rein-hand, i.e. left-hand) blade".
A Very Fine Japanese Late Koto Armour Piercing Tanto Signed Kodsuke kami Kuniyoshi. Circa 1590. In full polish showing a spectacular hamon and hada grain. Superb copper habaki carved in the form of Mount Fuji. Pierced o sukashi iron tsuba. This blade is immensely thick and in correct use there is no form of samurai armour or even helmet that could withstand its power and strength to penetrate steel yoroi defences in combat. Designed as a companion blade to the katana and wakazashi the tanto was one of the most important combat possessions of the samurai, and although seppuku was more often performed with the wakazashi the tanto was also used if required. While martial suicide is a practice found in a lot of cultures, the act of seppuku, or ritual self-disembowelment, is peculiar to Japan. The earliest known acts of seppuku were the deaths of samurai Minamoto Tametomo and poet Minamoto Yorimasa in the latter part of the 12th century. Seppuku is known in the west as hara-kiri. However, the term seppuku is considered a more elegant usage. As the human spirit was believed to reside in the stomach, slitting the stomach open was considered to be the most straightforward, and bravest, way to die. Therefore, this act was a privilege reserved for the samurai. Commoners were allowed to hang or drown themselves, and samurai women could slit their own throats, but only a samurai was allowed to commit seppuku. By committing seppuku , a samurai would be able to maintain or prevent the loss of honour for himself and his extended family. Therefore, a samurai who committed seppuku was often revered after his death. Defeated or dishonored samurai who chose surrender rather than suicide often found themselves reviled by society. 330 mm long blade from habaki to tip, 11mm thick at the habaki
A Very Fine Katana Attributed to Hizen kuni ju Tadayoshi Circa 1640 Mounted with stunning Edo koshirae [mounts] of samurai ponies throughout. The fushi is sublime top quality with a pure gold pony over a shakudo nanako ground and signed, the tsuba als bears a gilt pony, and there are a pair of shakudo menuki underneath the Edo silk wrap. The gold horse or pony has an ancient place in Japanese culture, the Ainus of Japan are the first indigenous Japanese, believed a belief in a world with three levels, and that one may travel from one world to the next via the golden horse. It may be from the following story that the significant place of ponies in Japanese culture and status began. The Ainus tale 'The Man who lost his Wife'. A man had lost his wife, and was searching for her everywhere, over hill and dale, forest and sea-shore. At last he came to a wide plain, on which stood an oak-tree. Going up to it he found it to be not so much an oak-tree as a house, in which dwelt a kind-looking old man. Said the old man: "'I am the god of the oak-tree. I know of your loss, and have seen your faithful search. Rest here awhile, and refresh yourself by eating and smoking. After that, if you hope to find your wife again, you must obey my orders, which are as follows: Take this golden horse, get on his back, fly up on him to the sky, and, when you get there, ride about the streets, constantly singing." So the man mounted the horse, which was of pure gold. The saddle and all the trappings were of gold also. As soon as he was in the saddle, the horse flew up to the sky. There the man found a world like ours, but more beautiful. There was an immense city in it; and up and down the streets of that city, day after day, he rode, singing all the while. Every one in the sky stared at him, and all the people put their hands to their noses, saying: "How that creature from the lower world stinks!" At last the stench became so intolerable to them that the chief god of the sky came and told him that he should be made to find his wife if only he would go away. Thereupon the man flew back to earth on his golden horse. Alighting at the foot of the oak-tree, he said to the oak-god: "Here am I. I did as you bade me. But I did not find my wife." "Wait a moment," said the oak-god; "you do not know what a tumult has been caused by your visit to the sky, neither have I yet told you that it was a demon who stole your wife. This demon, looking up from hell below, was so much astonished to see and hear you riding up and down the streets of heaven singing, that his gaze is still fixed in that direction. I will profit hereby to go round quietly, while his attention is absorbed, and let your wife out of the box in which he keeps her shut up." The oak-god did as he had promised. He brought back the woman, and handed over both her and the gold horse to the man, saying: "Do not use this horse to make any more journeys to the sky. Stay on earth, and breed from it." The couple obeyed his commands, and became very rich. The gold horse gave birth to two horses, and these two bred likewise, till at last horses filled all the land of the Ainos. The Ainu people are historically residents of parts of Hokkaido (the Northern island of Japan) the Kuril Islands, and Sakhalin. According to the government, there are currently 25,000 Ainu living in Japan, but other sources claim there are up to 200,000. The origin of the Ainu people and language is, for the most part, unknown. However, there have been many theories on the subject. One theory suggests that the Ainu people are remnants of the Jomon-jin, or the hunter-gathers who inhabited Japan during the Jomon Period (14,500 BC – 300 AD) and perhaps even before. Around the year 300 AD, another group of immigrants known as the Yayoi people made their way to the islands of Japan, introducing new agricultural techniques and technology and integrating with the Jomon people. It is believed that the Yayoi group may not have reached as far as the Northern island of Hokkaido, allowing the Jomon hunter-gatherer way of life to survive in that area.
A Very Fine Koto Era Samurai Handachi Katana By Master Kanenori Circa 1530 Blade in delightful original Edo polish and just bearing a couple of slight scratches and miniscule edge nicks. Typicial Edo han dachi fittings and full mounts in gilded bronze and a very fine crushed abilone lacquer saya. Iron mokko tsuba circa 1600. Gold dragon menuki under the traditional original silk wrap. As was used at the battle of Okehazama. Samurai warfare is simply extraordinary, such as the incredible battle of Okehazama, where a force of 1500 samurai routed a far superior army of 35,000 samurai through skill, adacity and cunning. In this battle, Oda Nobunaga defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto and established himself as one of the front-running warlords in the Sengoku period. In May or June 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto, with an army of perhaps 35,000 men, set forth on a march to Kyoto. Entering the Oda territories in Owari Province, he first took the border fortresses of Washizu and Marune before setting up camp in a wooded gorge known as Dengaku-hazama. This was all reported to Oda Nobunaga by his scouts and, in response, Nobunaga then led his own forces into position at a temple called Zenshoji, a short distance away, on the other side of the Tokaido. Had Nobunaga decided on a frontal assault, the battle would have been deceptively easy to predict; his army was outnumbered ten to one by the Imagawa forces. A frontal assault would be suicidal and an attempt to hold out at Zensho-ji would only last a few days. Because of the odds against their side, some of Nobunaga's advisers even suggested a surrender. Nobunaga, however, decided to launch a surprise attack on the Imagawa camp. When he made his decision, he gave this speech: "Imagawa has 40,000 men marching toward this place? I don't believe that. He 'only' has 35,000 soldiers. Yes, that is still too many. So, Sado, you want me to surrender. What if we do surrender? Will you get content with losing your life that way? Or what if we hold on like Katsuie wants me to? What if we stay here in this castle, lock it up, and wait until the Imagawas lose appetite and stop the siege and go home? We will be able to prolong our lives for 5 or 10 days, and what we cannot defend will still be undefendable. We are at the bottom of the pit, you know. And our fate is interesting. Of course the misery is too great, too. But this is how I see it: this is a chance in a lifetime. I can't afford to miss this. Do you really want to spend your entire lives praying for longevity? We were born in order to die! Whoever is with me, come to the battlefield tomorrow morning. Whoever is not, just stay wherever you are and watch me win it!" Nobunaga left a small force at the temple with a large number of banners, to give the impression that this was the location of his main force. Meanwhile, Oda's main force (about 1,500 men) moved through the forest undetected to the rear of the Imagawa army. The Imagawa samurai, not unsurprisingly, did not expect an attack, and that afternoon was very hot. The histories say that the Imagawa samurai were celebrating their recent victories with song, dance, and sake. An afternoon rainstorm further aided Oda's soldiers who arrived at the Imagawa camp just as the rains came down (this was the afternoon of 12 June). When the storm passed, Nobunaga's men poured into the camp from the north, and the Imagawa warriors lost all discipline and fled from the attackers. This left their commander's tent undefended, and the Oda warriors closed in rapidly. Imagawa Yoshimoto, unaware of what had transpired, heard the noise and emerged from his tent shouting at his men to quit their drunken revelry and return to their posts. By the time he realized, moments later, that the samurai before him were not his own, it was far too late. He deflected one samurai's spear thrust, but was beheaded by another. With their leader dead, and all but two of the senior officers killed, the remaining Imagawa officers joined Oda's army. Soon the Imagawa faction was no more and Oda Nobunaga was famous as his victory was hailed by many in Japan as miraculous. The most important of the samurai lords who joined Oda after this battle was Tokugawa Ieyasu from Mikawa Province. Ieyasu would remain a loyal ally of Nobunaga from this time until the latter's death. Stand for photo display only not included
A Very Fine Mid Edo Period Original Samurai Leg Armour Suneate In scarce body form style. Designed to mimic the same shape of the samurai's shin and calf muscle. In lacquered iron with an overall pure gold surface finish. Lined with red linen. With geometrically stiched padded cloth knee protection. Japanese armour was generally constructed from many small iron (tetsu) and/or leather (nerigawa) scales (kozane) and/or plates (ita-mono), connected to each other by rivets and macramé cords (odoshi) made from leather and/or braided silk, and/or chain armour (kusari). Noble families had silk cords made in specific patterns and colors of silk thread. Many of these cords were constructed of well over 100 strands of silk. Making these special silk cords could take many months of steady work, just to complete enough for one suit of armour. These armour plates were usually attached to a cloth or leather backing. Japanese armour was designed to be as lightweight as possible as the samurai had many tasks including riding a horse and archery in addition to swordsmanship. The armour was usually brightly lacquered to protect against the harsh Japanese climate. Chain armour (kusari) was also used to construct individual armour pieces and full suits of kusari were even used
A Very Fine Muramachi - Momoyama Owari Sukashi Jiguro-bishi Kamon Tsuba Takeda clan mon from the 1580's. Kamon of Jiguro-bishi mon of retainer of the Takeda clan, Itagaki Nobukata 1489 – March 23, 1548). He was a retainer of the Takeda family. Nobukata served under both Takeda Nobutora and Takeda Shingen and also was tasked with young Shingen. In 1541 Nobutora, along with Amari Torayasu, was driven out from the position of the head of Takeda clan, and he served as the general for Shingen often leading the troops into a battle when Shingen could not. In 1542, he would personally finish off Takato Yoritsugu at Ankokuji, shortly after the Siege of Fukuyo. In 1545, he successfully captured Takato castle. In 1546, he defeated Uesugi Norimasa at Usui Toge. With these victories, he was instrumental in gaining the control of Shinano Province and proved himself a skilled tactician. He was known as one of the "Twenty-Four Generals of Takeda Shingen". After these victories, Nobukata increasingly became selfish and started to hold victory ceremonies without firmly winning a battle. These victories rapidly became fewer. As Nobukata was the eldest of the Takeda retainers and having educated Shingen, few could criticize his actions. In 1547, Nobukata and his troops were almost completely wiped out in a battle against the Murakami clan and without a timely rescue by Hara Toratane, Nobukata himself would have been in danger as well. Shingen offered the following waka to Nobukata to encourage him to correct his act. Dare mo Miyo Mitsureba Yagate Kaku Tsuki no Izayofu Ana ya Hito no Yo no Naka "Everyone sees that even a beautiful full moon starts to change its shape, becoming smaller as the time passes. Even in our human lives, things are as it is." In 1548 at the Battle of Uedahara, Nobutaka, satisfied with a victory, had his troops stand down to hold a ceremony. Murakami's troop regrouped and counterattacked, killing Nobutaka and Amari Torayasu
A Very Fine Samurai Shinto Wakazashi With gold and copper fushi kashira decorated with dragon. A most interesting o-sukashi tsuba. Signed kodzuka with hamon. Superb original Edo period lacquered saya with a stripe and counter stripe pattern design. Three hole nakago and superb polished blade of a gently undulating notare hamon. Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set.
A Very Fine Tetsugendo Tsuba Shakudo, Gold and Silver Inlays The sukashi tsuba depicts a figure of the famed whistling man Usofuki with his cane standing above an oni type character carrying a toad on his head. The reverse side shows the matching rear views of the figures on the obverse. The Tesugendo school was founded by Naoshige, who was also known as Shoraku. During the late Edo period he was considered as one of the 'famed Kyoto three' with Otsuki Mituoki and Nagatsune. Originally he was a student of the great Nagatsune and his skill was said to have been of equal standing. Usofuki (or sometimes, Usobuki), is the smallest of the characters, representing the meaninglessness of the human condition in its impotent apex. Its eyes look surprised, but it is unable to scream or roar; it can only whistle, discretely, cowardly, inconsequentially. Hence, Usofuki also being used as the representation of insects and small animals. Hence, again, the origins of its own name: "uso" meaning lie, and "fuki" meaning to blow, to whistle. As a representation of the human condition, it is exaggerated and comedic. As an esoteric principle, it is precise in the form it depicts the action of man and the turns of Fortune: tragedy arising from the whisper of a lie. 2.8 inches x 2.75 inches.
A Very Fine, Beautiful Yet Imposing Shinto Period Katana. A wonderful blade in fine polish showing a stunning notare hamon, and a wide full length hi. All original Edo period fittings, saya tsuka, tsuba etc. Very fine quality shakudo fushigashira engraved with a Japanese ship in crashing waves, highlights of pure gold. Menuki under the tradtional Edo period wrap of dragons, fine Shinto tsuba decorated with a deep relief figure of a bearded sage beneath a tree, in tettsu with pure gold nunome-zogan inlays. The saya has a fine ishime stone finish lacquer. Blade tsuba to tip 30.75 inches long, 42 inches long overall in saya.
A Very Good Armour Piercing Bladed Tanto, Shinshinto Period 1781 till 1863. Exceptionally thick and powerful blade, in full polish showing superb crabclaw hamon with back edge tempering. Fine red lacquer saya with Tokugawa Aoi mon. Buffalo horn fittings with gold inlaid Minuki under original Edo wrap. Kodzuka with nanako ground and two gilt and bronze phoenix in relief. Small hairline cracks in the lacquer near the kodzuka pocket. The tanto was invented partway through the Heian period, when it was mainly used as a weapon. With the beginning of the Kamakura period, tanto were forged to be more aesthetically pleasing, and hira and uchi-sori tanto were the most popular styles for wars in the kamakura period. Near the middle of the Kamakura period, more tanto artisans were seen, increasing the abundance of the weapon, and the kanmuri-otoshi style became prevalent in the cities of Kyoto and Yamato. Because of the style introduced by the tachi in the late Kamakura period, tanto began to be forged longer and wider. The introduction of the Hachiman faith became visible in the carvings in the tanto hilts around this time. The hamon (line of temper) is similar to that of the tachi, except for the absence of choji-midare, which is nioi and utsuri. Gunomi-midare and suguha are found to have taken its place. In Nambokucho, the tanto were forged to be up to forty centimetres as opposed to the normal one shaku (about thirty centimetres) length. The tanto blades became thinner between the uri and the omote, and wider between the ha and mune. At this point in time, two styles of hamon were prevalent: the older style, which was subtle and artistic, and the newer, more popular style. Blades could be of exceptional quality. As the end of the period neared, the average blade narrowed and the sori became shallow. The aikuchi is a tanto koshirae where the fushi is flush with the mouth of the saya. There is no tsuba on this form of tanto.
A Very Good Japanese Type 32, Japanese 1899 pattern Type 'B' Otsu Sabre Used in WW2, made at the Tokyo Arsenal. The most efficient and well made other ranks and NCO's which was used from the Russo-Japan War of 1905 until the end of World War II, although none were made after the mid 1930's. It has well made blade that measures 30 1/2 inches in length which remains in good condition. Checkered grip is in excellent condition. This type of type 32 was issued to military police, armoured corps, artillery, engineers.
A Very Good Late Koto Katana, Full Suite of Higo Mounts Circa 1590. All original Edo period koshirae and a leather bound tsuka over bird menuki on a giant rayskin covered hilt, ishime stone lacquer finish saya in bull's blood [sang de boeuf] lacquer. Very fine Higo mounts including a sayagaki. Fine blade with suguha hamon. A great sword in very nice condition. Made and used in the time of the greatest battle in samurai history. The Battle of Sekigahara Sekigahara no Tatakai) was a decisive battle on October 21, 1600 that preceded the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate. Initially, Tokugawa's eastern army had 75,000 men, while Ishida's western army numbered 120,000. Tokugawa had also sneaked in a supply of arquebuses. Knowing that Tokugawa was heading towards Osaka, Ishida decided to abandon his positions and marched to Sekigahara. Even though the Western forces had tremendous tactical advantages, Tokugawa had already been in contact with many daimyo in the Western Army for months, promising them land and leniency after the battle should they switch sides. Tokugawa's forces started the battle when Fukushima Masanori, the leader of the advance guard, charged north from Tokugawa's left flank along the Fuji River against the Western Army's right centre. The ground was still muddy from the previous day's rain, so the conflict there devolved into something more primal. Tokugawa then ordered attacks from his right and his centre against the Western Army’s left in order to support Fukushima's attack. This left the Western Army's centre unscathed, so Ishida ordered this unit under the command of Shimazu Yoshihiro to reinforce his right flank. Shimazu refused as daimyos of the day only listened to respected commanders, which Ishida was not. Recent scholarship by Professor Yoshiji Yamasaki of Toho University has indicated that the Mori faction had reached a secret agreement with the Tokugawa two weeks earlier, pledging neutrality at the decisive battle in exchange for a guarantee of territorial preservation, and was a strategic decision on Mori Terumoto's part that later backfired. Fukushima's attack was slowly gaining ground, but this came at the cost of exposing their flank to attack from across the Fuji River by Otani Yoshitsugu, who took advantage of this opportunity. Just past Otani's forces were those of Kobayakawa Hideaki on Mount Matsuo. Kobayakawa was one of the daimyos that had been courted by Tokugawa. Even though he had agreed to defect to Tokugawa's side, in the actual battle he was hesitant and remained neutral. As the battle grew more intense, Tokugawa finally ordered arquebuses to fire at Kobayakawa's position on Mount Matsuo to force Kobayakawa to make his choice. At that point Kobayakawa joined the battle as a member of the Eastern Army. His forces charged ?tani's position, which did not end well for Kobayakawa. Otani's forces had dry gunpowder, so they opened fire on the turncoats, making the charge of 16,000 men mostly ineffective. However, he was already engaging forces under the command of Todo Takatora, Kyogoku Takatsugu, and Oda Yuraku when Kobayakawa charged. At this point, the buffer Otani established was outnumbered. Seeing this, Western Army generals Wakisaka Yasuharu, Ogawa Suketada, Akaza Naoyasu, and Kutsuki Mototsuna switched sides, turning the tide of battle
A Very Good Samurai Katana Dated 1573 By the Great Name of Sukesada Showing a fabulous and extravagant hamon temper line patinated copper fittings decorated with birds. Pierced iron tsuba featuring a butterfly. Signed by one of the great and famous names in Samurai sword history, Bizen Osafune Sukesada. Sukesada was a family name used by a number of great swordsmiths and they are most collectable in their own right. This blade is dated 1573, the equivalent date of the time when Mary Queen of Scots was conspiring to dethrone her 'cousin' , the mightiest of all European Queens, Queen Elizabeth. Harima, Mimasaka and Bizen provinces were prospering under the protection of the Akamatsu family. Above all, Bizen province turned out a great many talented swordsmiths. A large number of swords were made there in the late Muromachi period not only supplying the demand of the Age of Provincial Wars in Japan but also as an important exporting item to the Ming dynasty in China. At the onset of the decline of the Ashikaga shogunate in 1565 ad., and Yoshiteru's assassination the shogunate of Yoshiteru was filled by his two-year old son, Yoshiaki. Yoshiteru's brother was the abbot of a Buddhist monastery. He resigned this position and attempted to assume the shogunate. These efforts ultimately failed. The demand for swords began an accent to unimaginable levels. The national unrest and violent civil war did not cease until the successful takeover of the shogunate by Tokugawa Iyeyasu. The "Osafune - Kozori" group was the major supplier of blades for these events.It is also well documented that there were indeed very high quality works produced during this time. Many higher quality swords of varying degrees were also needed to provide the upper ranks with swords befitting their status. The leading smiths producing the highest quality works was Sukesada along with a few others such as Kasumitsu, Munemitsu, Kiyomitsu mons. This sword was produced by an Osafune school smith, Sukesada. Though there were many sword schools located in Bizen Province, for many years the Osafune was the most prosperous of these schools. Sukesada was the most prominent name of the Sue-Bizen school.
A Very Good Samurai Sword Blade By Master Tadamitsu Circa 1440 A wonderful Muramachi era blade almost 600 years old, with a superb hamon gold foil habaki and shortened tang with a preserved folded over signature. Hamon forms Gunome pattern mixing with Clove (Choji) outline which is slanted generally. The founder of the sword maker Tadamitsu in Bizen is referred in Shouou period (1288-93) and the oldest existent Tanto has the date of year Teiji 3 (1364) during Nanbokucho period, then later generations shows the records of Ouei - Bunmei (1394-1486) in Muromachi period. The preserved folded over system in order to preserve the blade smiths signature was only reserved for the best and revered blades. We can mount this sword in bespoke plain shira saya for £350 or traditionally as it was 600 years ago, with all antique fittings and a bespoke saya and tsuka in the colour of choice for around £1,500 depending on the fittings. Overall 26.75 inches long blade from base of habaki 21.5 inches long
A Very Good Shinto Samurai Combat Ryo-Shinogi yari. Polearm Very nice blade in polish showing a good hamon temper line. Double edged four sided. A thick stout blade that would have been enormously effective in trained hands. A Samurai ryo-shinogi yari polearm. Shinto period in nice order overall. Yari is the Japanese term for spear, or more specifically, the straight-headed spear. The martial art of wielding the yari is called sojutsu. A yari can range in length from one meter to upwards of six metres (3.3 to 20 feet). The longer versions were called omi no yari while shorter ones were known as mochi yari or tae yari. The longest versions were carried by foot troops (ashigaru), while samurai usually carried a shorter yari such as this example. Yari are believed to have been derived from Chinese spears, and while they were present in early Japan's history they did not become popular until the thirteenth century.The original warfare of the bushi was not a thing for "commoners"; it was a ritualized combat usually between two warriors who may challenge each other via horseback archery and sword duels. However, the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 changed Japanese weaponry and warfare. The Mongol-employed Chinese and Korean footmen wielded long pikes, fought in tight formation, and moved in large units to stave off cavalry. Polearms (including naginata and yari) were of much greater military use than swords, due to their much greater range, their lesser weight per unit length (though overall a polearm would be fairly hefty), and their great piercing ability. Swords in a full battle situation were therefore relegated to emergency sidearm status from the Heian through the Muromachi periods. Around later half of sixteenth century, ashigaru holding pikes (naga yari) with length of 4.5 to 6.5 m (15 to 22 feet) or sometimes 10 m became main forces in armies. They formed lines, combined with harquebusiers and short spearmen. Pikemen formed two or three row of line, and were forced to move up and down their pikes in unison under the command.Yari overtook the popularity of the daikyu for the samurai, and foot troops (ashigaru) used them extensively as well Various types of yari points or blades existed. The most common blade was a straight, flat, design that resembles a straight-bladed double edged dagger. This type of blade could cut as well as stab and was sharpened like a razor edge. Though yari is a catchall for spear, it is usually distinguished between kama yari, which have additional horizontal blades, and simple su yari (choku-so) or straight spears. Yari can also be distinguished by the types of blade cross section: the triangular sections were called sankaku yari and the diamond sections were called ryo-shinogi yari. 16.5 inch blade including tang, 7inch blade length, overall yari length 75 inches.
A Very Good Signed Samurai Wakazashi By Muneshige Dated 1736 With very fine quality original Edo mounts. The fushi-gashira are beautiful decorated with pure gold. The fushi is patinated copper with a takebori chisselled relief fisherman carrying a rod over his shoulder and a huge carp on his back. The gashira is also patinated copper with a takebori chiselled man jumping onto a galloping pony decorated in silver and gold. The menuki under the blue silk ito are a pair of patinated copper ponies to match the gashira. The circular iron tsuba is dishshaped laso Edo period and hot stamped with leaf branches and inlaid with sporadic narrow lines of pure gold. The blade is stunning with a most expressive hamon. A beautiful plain black saya with recessed pockets for optional kodzuka and kogai. Now repolished blade.
A Very Good Wakazashi By Soshu ju Tsunahiro Circa 1530 Beautifully wide and meaty blade by a great master smith of the Koto era. Superb original Edo lacquer ribbed saya and nice, subdued, iron fittings and tsuba. Dragon menuki. Blade in good old polish with a few finger marks and signs of combat use and wear. A stunning piece of most visually impressive stature.
A Very Good WW2 Japanese Kaiten Tanto With Fine Hamon A traditional seppuku [suicide] dagger in shira saya [standard wooden mounting]. With a very good notare hamon and good kissaki turn back. Full hi to one side, and typical yakideshi hamon end. Nicely aged tang with early hand punched mekugi ana. The very type as were given to the WW2 Zero pilots on their Kamikaze suicide missions, and also given to Kaiten pilots, [the Japanese navy's one man human torpedoes]. Blade wartime period, traditionally made period. A must have piece, for collectors of fine Samurai edged weapons, who have yet to gain one of these most interesting daggers for their collection. Photo in the gallery shows a WW2 'Kamikaze' pilot being issued his suicide Seppuku tanto in the Kaiten ceremony. Originally they would have had an exterior brown leather cover and neck strap. The pilot had the choice whether to commit suicide, or not. It was not an order, nor directive and if the pilot missed the ship he had the option of killing himself to ask forgiveness of the honourable ancestors for his failure, as many of the planes had only enough fuel for a one way trip. Because the Zero pilot was belted into a very narrow seat and wearing many layers of his cold atmospheric pilot's flying suit with the addition of his life vest; it would be impossible for the aeronautical pilot to commit traditional ritual seppuku. It is said the procedure was to pull the knife out from it's neck sheath and thrust it straight into the throat much like the ladies form of seppuku. Blade has pewter habaki and plain shira saya. Very small pitting area at front tip one side 6.25 inch blade from hilt to tip
A Very Nice & Inexpensive Japanese Shinto Katana Around 280 Years Old All the fittings are original to the blade and Edo era, the saya is also original Edo lacquer with sayajiri [bottom mount]. The tsuba is an early, iron plate with mon, Koto period around 1500. Iron Higo style fushi kashira with inlaid silver scrolls. The blade is in very clean bright polish with a most delightful undulating gunome hamon. By the time Ieyasu Tokugawa unified Japan under his rule at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, only samurai were permitted to wear the sword. A samurai was recognized by his carrying the feared daisho, the ‘big sword, little sword’ of the warrior. These were the battle katana, the ‘big sword,’ and the wakizashi, the ‘little sword.’ The name katana derives from two old Japanese written characters or symbols: kata, meaning’side,’ and na, or ‘edge.’ Thus a katana is a single-edged sword that has had few rivals in the annals of war, either in the East or the West. Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan’s knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai — a very real matter of life or death — that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: ‘The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated.’ 40 inches long overall in saya, blade 28 inches long tsuba to tip.
A Very Nicely presented Koto Period Samurai Katana Circa 1520 With ribbed and brown ishime stone lacquer in mid brown. The binding is original Edo silk and the fushi kashira mounts are early Higo style in ancient iron with inlaid birds. Nice blade with undulating gunome hamon. Very charmingly presented in lovely order and all original Edo fittings. The name katana derives from two old Japanese written characters or symbols: kata, meaning’side,’ and na, or ‘edge.’ Thus a katana is a single-edged sword that has had few rivals in the annals of war, either in the East or the West. Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan’s knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai — a very real matter of life or death — that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: ‘The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated.’ 26.75 inch blade, sword overall 38 inches long in saya.
A Very Rare WW2 Japanese Shell Case From a Type 11 37mm Infantry gun Souvenir of an British officer gifted to him by an Australian officer, who served in the Pacific War in WW2. All Japanese munitions from WW2 are incredibly rare to see in the UK as so few returning soldiers bothered to collect them and bring them home, plus all WW2 arms of all kinds were destroyed in Japan from 1945. For them it was a determined effort to wipe out all mention and thought of WW2 and to eradicate any reminder of the shame. All marked items of that period were banned, and in fact a rule that is still enforced in Japan today. The shell schematics are; Calibre Diameter: 37mm Case Length: 132mm Rim: R Round Index: Shell Type 95 AP Projectile Index: Type 95 AP Projectile Weight: 0,67000 kg Filler Weight: 0,03500 kg Usage: Type 11 37mm Infantry Gun, Type 94 37mm Anti-Tank Gun & Type 94 37mm Tank Gun Comment: Armour piercing/high Explosive round for Type 11 Infantry Gun, early Type 94 AT & Tank Guns. Inert and safe not suitable for export.
A Wonderful Ancient Samurai Sword of the Nambokochu Era Circa 1370 Made in the transitional period between Nambokochu and Muramachi. Super ancient narrow blade with wonderful curvature and typical medium narrow undulating hamon of the Nambokochu era, it also has a much desired defensive combat blocking cut on the back edge [these are never removed and a highly desireable sign of a close combat defensive move]. Delightful original Edo fittings including its superb Edo saya with polished giant rayskin. The Edo fushi kashira, decorated in pure gold. The iron round wheel shaped tsuba is beautifully carved with elements of inlaid gold spirals. Looking at the late Nanbokucho period, for an example of sword makers in that era, the main Bizen smiths 'last signed eras' (the last dated examples do not always coincide with the end of the smith’s career) were Joji for Motoshige, Koryaku for Chogi, and Oei for Omiya Morishige. Many of the Bizen dates moved up to Eiwa, Koryaku, Eitoku, Shitoku, Kakei, Ko-o, and Meitoku, and the tachi shapes changed to become narrower. Choji’s Koryaku era tachi are narrow, but without other style changes. Morikage’s work from the end of the Nanbokucho period have a narrow shape with small hamon which is similar to Kosori work. Also, there are many Bizen smiths who are not belong to famous schools and do not have a clear school style, and people called all of these smiths Kosori smiths. Overall, at the end of the Nanbukucho period, Bizen swords became narrower, and at the same time, the mainstream schools’ characteristics gradually disappeared and smaller hamon become popular. Overall length 37.5 inches blade 25.5 inches.
A Wonderful Koto Chisa Katana With Finest Shakudo Mounts and Tsuba Circa 1600. The mounts are fabulously detailed and with sublime quality patination. The takabori tsuba is chiselled in patinated copper with pure gold embellishments. The menuki are delightful gold silver and copper carvings of seated figures, two playing aboard game probably Go and another playing a zither type instrument seated next to an koro incense burner. The saya is gold leaf overlaid on black with a flowing open design, applied in what appears to be simple methgod but was in fact incredibly technical. The blade has a full wide hi on both sides, a sugaha hamon is beautifully polished. This stunning sword would grace any fine collection of oriental art or examples of the finest Asian and Oriental weapons. Chisa katana, [Chiisagatana] or literally "short katana", are shoto mounted as katana. It is fair to say wakizashi are shoto which are mounted in a similar way to katana, but in this instance we are considering the predecessors of the daisho. In the transitional period from tachi to katana, katana were called "uchigatana", and shoto were referred to as "koshigatana" and "chiisagatana", in many cases quite longer than the later more normal length wakizashi. Shakudo is a billon of gold and copper (typically 4-10% gold, 96-90% copper) which can be treated to form an indigo/black patina resembling lacquer. Unpatinated shakudo Visually resembles bronze; the dark colour is induced by applying and heating rokusho, a special patination formula. Shakudo Was historically used in Japan to construct or decorate katana fittings such as tsuba, menuki, and kozuka; as well as other small ornaments. When it was introduced to the West in the mid-19th century, it was thought to be previously unknown outside Asia, but recent studies have suggested close similarities to certain decorative alloys used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome Blade 20.25 inches, 35 inches long overall in saya
A Wonderful Koto Katana with Fine Fittings and Stunning Blade Made circa 1500, with carved Buddhist bonji horimono on the blade face and a name on the other side. It may well be the name of the blade smith, or, more likely the name of the samurai to whom the blade was given or made. The blade is absolutely wonderful with incredible balance. Bonji were in use since the late Kamakura period [the 1300's]. Before that religious inscriptions were made in Chinese, but with the spreading Shingon-Buddhism Sanscrit became popular. Sanskrit characters (or rather pictograhs) used on swords are called Bonji or Shuji. They are readings of the various incarnations of Buddha. All the fittings are original Edo period and the tsukaito [hilt binding] is in leather in the battle-wrap form, over superb chisselled large dragon menuki in full relief. It has a most rare form of iron tsuba (ca. 1600) of convex form in iron. The plate is well hammered and formed in a deep cup shape. The relief design is carved from the plate and is not iron on iron inlay. There is some mystery about this type of tsuba. Does it come from the European cup handguard shape? It might also be a style influence of Chinese or even Persian origin. It still has its original Edo period saya with superb ishime stone lacquer. 26 inch blade from tsuba to tip
A Wonderful Original Edo Era Samurai's Bow Set, Yumi, 6 Ya & Yabira Yazutsu Complete with its very rare Yumi stand. A wonderful original antique Samurai bow Yumi, Edo Era, with arrows in a parchment quiver [yabira yazutsu] with six arrows [ya]. Edo period [1599 -1863]. A complete and fabulous set set on a bow and arrow stand. The lidded parchment quiver is beautifully impressed with huge amounts of Japanese text, portraits and figures. These sets are very rarely to be seen and we consider ourselves very fortunate, indeed priveledged, to offer one. It was from the use of the war bow or longbow in particular that Chinese historians called the Japanese 'the people of the longbow'. As early as the 4th century archery contests were being held in Japan. In the Heian period (between the 8th and 12th centuries) archery competitions on horseback were very popular and during this time training in archery was developed. Archers had to loose their arrows against static and mobile targets both on foot and on horseback. The static targets were the large kind or o-mato and was set at thirty-three bow lengths and measured about 180cm in diameter; the deer target or kusajishi consisted of a deer's silhouette and was covered in deer skin and marks indicated vital areas on the body; and finally there was the round target or marumono which was essentially a round board, stuffed and enveloped in strong animal skin. To make things more interesting for the archer these targets would be hung from poles and set in motion so that they would provide much harder targets to hit. Throughout feudal Japan indoor and outdoor archery ranges could be found in the houses of every major samurai clan. Bow and arrow and straw targets were common sights as were the beautiful cases which held the arrows and the likewise ornate stands which contained the bow. These items were prominent features in the houses of samurai. The typical longbow, or war bow (daikyu), was made from deciduous wood faced with bamboo and was reinforced with a binding of rattan to further strengthen the composite weapon together. To waterproof it the shaft was lacquered, and was bent in the shape of a double curve. The bowstring was made from a fibrous substance originating from plants (usually hemp or ramie) and was coated with wax to give a hard smooth surface and in some cases it was necessary for two people to string the bow. Bowstrings were often made by skilled specialists and came in varying qualities from hard strings to the soft and elastic bowstrings used for hunting; silk was also available but this was only used for ceremonial bows. Other types of bows existed. There was the short bow, one used for battle called the hankyu, one used for amusement called the yokyu, and one used for hunting called the suzume-yumi. There was also the maru-ki or roundwood bow, the shige-no-yumi or bow wound round with rattan, and the hoko-yumi or the Tartar-shaped bow. Every Samurai was expected to be an expert in the skill of archery, and it presented the various elements, essence and the representation of the Samurai's numerous skills, for hunting, combat, sport and amusement, and all inextricably linked together. The Hama Yumi is a sacred bow used in 1103 C.E. in Japan. The Bow is said to be one of the oldest and most sacred Japanese weapons; the first Emperor Jimmu is always depicted carrying a bow. According to legend, at that time, the Imperial Palace was taken over by an evil demon, which caused the Emperor to fall ill with great anxiety and suffering. When the Imperial High Priests tried and failed in their efforts to destroy the demon and dispel the Imperial household of its influence, they were at a loss. Finally, an archer, Yorimasu Minamoto, was summoned to the Imperial Palace in the hopes of slaying the demon with his bow and arrow, ridding the palace of this plague. With a steady hand and a virtuous heart, Yorimasu Minamoto vanquished the demon with the first arrow, and his bow was declared to be a Hama Yumi; an "Evil-Destroying Bow", (and the first arrow a Hama Ya; a "Evil-Destroying Arrow"). This Bow is 59 inches long.
A Wonderful Samurai Tanto, With Symbol of the Navigator, William Adams. Now re-polished blade. William Adams was the principle character, based on the first English real life 17th century navigator adventurer who traveled to Japan, depicted in James Clavells epic masterpiece "Shogun". Sadly for him, he was never again allowed to leave Japan and return to his family in England. It is a wonderful and historical samurai tanto [dagger] that bears a pure silver inlaid, 16th century Sino-Japanese compass design, into its iron scabbard mount. It was the symbol of Japanese Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu's famous English navigator, William Adams, who became a close advisor to the Shogun, and known in Japan as Anjin. The symbol of the compass in Japanese artifacts of all kinds are very rare indeed, possibly as Japan was a most insular society and foreign travel was highly restricted. However, John Adams became such a highly regarded 'foreigner' within the shogun's court, his symbol could be embellished by a member of the inner circle of his influence, or those maybe connected to Adams himself. The tanto bears a signed koto blade by Kanetsugu, made circa 1530. It has an iron Koto period sukashi tsuba, iron fushi kashira [dagger hilt mounts] that are decorated with geese in flight. It has a matching iron kodzuka knife, with silver inlaid geese, also in flight. It is fitted with gold menuki, over black giant rayskin under the wrap. One menuki is a three dimensional depiction of a goose flying in front of the moon, and another, within a bamboo grove. The blade is somewhat now fabulously polished and displays a very nice and beautiful gunome hamon, with a single hi and a 'falling rain' carved habaki [collar mount] in copper. A picture in the galley is of the Tokugawa's Red Seal ships based on the navigators own ship, and a period print of Richard Adams being presented to the shogun, alongside a contemporary map of Japan [as it was detailed on European maps in the early 1600's]. Both are for information only. William Adams English navigator, also known in Japan as Miura Anjin, was born in 1564 in Gillingham England William Adams, also called Anjin or Miura Anjin (born 1564, Gillingham, Kent, England—died May 26, 1620, in Hirado, Japan), he was a navigator, merchant-adventurer, and the first Englishman to visit Japan. At the age of 12 Adams was apprenticed to a shipbuilder in the merchant marine, and in 1588 he was master of a supply ship for the British navy during the invasion of the Spanish Armada. Soon after the British victory, he began serving as a pilot and ship’s master for a company of Barbary merchants. In June 1598 he shipped out as pilot major with five Dutch ships bound from Europe for the East Indies (present-day Indonesia) via the Strait of Magellan. The trouble-ridden fleet was scattered by storms, and in April 1600 Adams’s ship, the Liefde (“Charity”), its crew sick and dying, anchored off the island of Kyushu in southern Japan, the first northern European ship to reach that country. Adams and the other survivors were summoned to Osaka, where Tokugawa Ieyasu—soon to become the shogun of Japan—interrogated mainly Adams about a variety of political, religious, and technological topics. Ieyasu was so impressed with Adams’s knowledge, especially of ships and shipbuilding, that he made the Englishman one of his confidants. Adams was given the rank of hatamoto (“bannerman”), a retainer to the shogun, and was awarded an estate at Miura, on the Miura Peninsula south of Edo (now Tokyo). Despite those honours, in the early years of his sojourn Adams repeatedly expressed his desire to return to England (where he had a wife and family, whom he eventually was able to continue to support) but was refused permission. He thus became permanently settled in Japan, married a Japanese woman, and came to be known by the name Anjin (“Pilot and Navigator] later called Miura Anjin. Adams oversaw the construction of Western-style ships, wrote letters on behalf of the shogun encouraging Dutch and English traders to come to Japan, and then officiated between the shogunate and the traders who began visiting the country. In 1613 he helped to establish an English factory (trading post) for the East India Company at Hirado, in Kyushu northwest of Nagasaki. Adams was allowed to undertake several overseas voyages between 1614 and 1619, traveling as far as Southeast Asia. His name is still revered in Japan with a district of his estate still bearing his name and his story is detailed in the magnificent epic book and film Shogun by James Clavell. 18.73 Inches long in saya, blade 11.5 inches long.
A Wonderful ShInto Katana Signed Unshu ju Kanetsune Saku A simply stunning and fabulously fitted antique samurai sword with entomological based fittings and tsuba, decorated with beetles, grasshoppers and dragonflies. The saya is decorated in its two colour original Edo period lacquer. The tsuka [hilt] bears its original Edo period binding and the whole swords fittings is in a completely untouched condition for likely 200 years. The blade has a first class hamon and in incredible condition. Chinese and the Japanese culture has been shaped by long periods of Chinese conquest, and one of the many shared aspects of Japanese and Chinese art is the prevalence of diverse insects. An early example of the insect art of China dates to the thirteenth century BCE; striking in its simplicity and subtly adorned, the likeness of this cicada is endearing and unmistakable. Japanese artists were keenly aware of their rich history of insects in art: “Kano Kagenobu, in the early nineteenth century, prepared a hand scroll of sketches in the styles of Japanese and Chinese artists spanning almost a thousand years; this scroll, Wakan Hissha Churui , or Insects by Japanese and Chinese Artists, is probably the most complete single compilation of Eastern insect art through the ages” . During the Edo period, which spanned the seventeenth through to the mid-nineteenth centuries, it saw the publication of Wakan Hissha Churui , insect diversity remained a notable component of Japanese art. Ukiyo-e , or woodblock prints, became popular, and many of these feature insects. Kitagawa Utamaro produced some of the most notable Edo ukiyo-e . His 15 illustrations that accompanied the poems of Ehon mushi erami ( Picture Book of Crawling Creatures ) contain many insects: dragonflies, grasshoppers, katydids, various crickets, an earwig, a mantis, cicadas, a paper wasp, beetles, a horsefly, caterpillars, and a butterfly. The menuki are bronze with takebori figures of monkeys with pure gold décor. Blade 27.5 inches long from habaki to tip
Amazing 'Special' Centenary Lanes Armoury Discount, 25% Off All Items In all departments. The Lanes Armoury, A Magical Shop of Rarity, Bookcraft and History. The Lanes Armoury, is world famous & the family has been proudly serving collectors for 100 years. We are now rapidly approaching our 101st year in the Brighton Lanes, so as our centenary anniversary is drawing to an end we are making a very, very, special offer to all our clients, of a massive 25% discount on ALL our items. For example a £100 item will be only £75, and a £1,000 item will be only £750. In the past we have offered discounts to our largest selling area, original Samurai weaponry, but now we are extending this last phase of our SPECIAL CENTENARY DISCOUNT to all departments! As many of our regulars know, our family has been trading in Brighton since the end of WW1, and this year it is our centenary. Visitors to our shop will also know we can get up to between 2000 to 3000 visitors a day, Summer and Winter, so 'in theory' anything up to 60 million people may have crossed our thresholds during that 100 years, and we don’t even open on Sundays or Bank Holidays!. Our webstore is now, we are told, probably the largest online selling militaria website in the world with well over 16,000 photographs to view. In celebration of our centenary we have been offering our regulars a few special items, just now and again, at well below cost, saving the lucky buyers many tens of thousands of pounds, they are offered as a sincere token of our thanks, so if you see them grab them while you can. They are offered on a first come first served basis, and they will appear without warning. We know through our photo archive it certainly dates from 1920, but old family history notes 1919 is the year of the first shop opening. Probably dating to just after the return of the partner's grandfather from his service in the desert campaign in WW1. Their great grandfather also served in WW1, on the top secret naval 'Q-Ships'. During our centenary special offers will appear, so keep an eye peeled and see if you can bag a bargain! The Lanes Armoury, One Of The Last True Armouries In Europe A unique company that has evolved from it's roots, as one of the oldest surviving Sussex family traders, established since the reign of King George Vth. Mark Hawkins [the senior partner] has been involved in the business for almost 50 years, and his younger brother, David, for almost 40. In fact much longer in some respects than 50 years for Mark as he bought his first flintlock gun aged 7 years old. Between them [and their predecessors] they have been supplying and purveying fine arms, armour and antiques to simply too many tens of thousands of clients, from the four corners of the globe, to count them all. From presidents to postmen, all have been most warmly received by the company as esteemed clients and friends. We provide a unique, bespoke service, tailored to suit the needs of every customer, and all are treated equally. Our normal opening hours are Monday to Saturday 11.00am till 5.15 pm. We are available however, all day, on 07721 010085 [+ 44 [0]7721 010085]. Ronald Wilson Reagan [February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) 40th President of the United States (1981–1989). A much missed client and 'friend' of The Lanes Armoury. PLEASE NOTE*** THE 25% DISCOUNT WILL NOT SHOW OR APPEAR ON ANY ONLINE ORDER, OR, THE CONFIRMATION E.MAIL, ONLY THE REGULAR PRE-DISCOUNTED PRICE WILL BE SHOWN, BUT, IT WILL CERTAINLY BE DISCOUNTED IMMEDIATELY WHEN IT IS CHARGED TO A CARD, SO YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO PAY THE REGULAR SHOWN PRICE. You are also most welcome to confirm this by email or a telephone call to us direct. 01273 321357, OR 07721 010085. All discounted sales are for direct sale only
An Ancient and Beautiful Signed Wakazashi Around 700 Years Old It has a signed Nambokocho blade, but try as we might, as it is in an ancient kanji, we simply can't translate it. In it's original Edo fittings including a pure gold foiled habaki and seppa. An important point regarding samurai swords, when blades have been mounted and fitted with pure gold foiled habaki it represented a sword that was very highly prized, either due to its superior maker or its highly significant history within the family of its ownership.When the Nanboku-cho conflict broke out, vassalage ties became more serious. During the relatively peaceful Kamakura period, military skills were not placed at a premium, but after the outbreak of civil war this criterion became the most important one. A new intermediary consideration emerged in the vassalage ties of the post 1336 environment: the need for loyalty and a tighter tie between lord and vassal. The tighter ties between the shogun and his vassals emerged as a result of the need for military action against rivals. Vassalage ties were either established by the Ashikaga or there was a risk of losing a potential warrior to another warrior hierarchy controlled, at best, by emerging shugo lords loyal to the Ashikaga, and at worst by rival imperialist generals. So, in a true sense, vassalage ties during the civil war period were used to bridge potential conflict through the recruitment of warriors. At the same time that vassalage ties tightened between samurai and shogun, the legitimacy of these ties were sorely tested. This apparent paradox is logically explained by the existence of many claims to samurai loyalty that were presented: towards rival imperialist generals, shugo lords, and even towards local samurai alliances. A few examples will illustrate the emergence of vassalage ties between the shogun Ashikaga Takauji and his new housemen. The Kobayakawa family became loyal vassals when they were entrusted with defending Ashikaga interests in the province of Aki Province after Takauji had retreated to Kyushu in 1336. Another Aki samurai family, the Mori clan, became vassals of Takauji in 1336, and served under Ko Moroyasu until the outbreak of the Kanno Incident. In the 1350s, the Mori sided with the enemies of Takauji, Tadayoshi and his adopted son Tadafuyu, and not until the 1360s were they back again as vassals of the shogun. Vassalage ties to the Kawashima clan and other warrior families near Kyoto were established by Takauji in the summer of 1336 in the latter's drive to retake the capital. The Kawashima case is of considerable interest because of a document pertaining to the terms of vassalage bearing Takauji's signature: they would exchange military service for stewardship rights (jito shiki) over half of Kawashima Estate, leaving the other half in possession of the noble proprietor in the form of rent The original Edo lacquer on the saya is a little tired and can be restored to perfect condition if required.
An Ancient Kamakura Samurai Tanto on a Botanical Theme Circa 1250 Almost 800 year old blade set in complete, and original Edo period [1596-1867] mounts, made of silvered copper, decorated with deeply chiselled takebori chrysanthemum grandiflorum. Blade now re-polished. Used in the era of the attempted invasion by the armadas of the great Mongol Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan. The kodzuka is complimentarily decorated in silvered copper, also on a botanical theme. The lacquer body of the saya is over decorated in powdered gold with representations of chrysanthemum heads to match the fushi, kashira and sayajiri. Unofficially, the Kamakura Era began in 1185, when the Minamoto clan defeated the Taira family in the Genpei War. However, it was not until 1192 that the emperor named Minamoto Yoritomo as the first shogun of Japan — whose full title is "Seii Taishogun," or "great general who subdues the eastern barbarians" — that the period truly took shape. Minamoto Yoritomo ruled from 1192 to 1199 from his family seat at Kamakura, about 30 miles south of Tokyo. His reign marked the beginning of the bakufu system under which the emperors in Kyoto were mere figureheads, and the shoguns ruled Japan. This system would endure under the leadership of different clans for almost 700 years until the Meiji Restoration of 1868. After Minamoto Yoritomo's death, the usurping Minamoto clan had its own power usurped by the Hojo clan, who claimed the title of "shikken" or "regent" in 1203. The shoguns became figureheads just like the emperors. Ironically, the Hojos were a branch of the Taira clan, which the Minamoto had defeated in the Gempei War The Hojo family made their status as regents hereditary and took effective power from the Minamotos for the remainder of the Kamakura Period. The greatest crisis of the Kamakura Era came with a threat from overseas. In 1271, the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan — grandson of Genghis Khan — established the Yuan Dynasty in China. After consolidating power over all of China, Kublai sent emissaries to Japan demanding tribute; the shikken's government flatly refused on behalf of the shogun and emperor. Kublai Khan responded by sending two massive armadas to invade Japan in 1274 and 1281. Almost unbelievably, both armadas were destroyed by typhoons, known as the "kamikaze" or "divine winds" in Japan. Although nature protected Japan from the Mongol invaders, the cost of the defense forced the government to raise taxes, which set off a wave of chaos across the country. The Hojo shikkens tried to hang on to power by allowing other great clans to increase their own control of different regions of Japan. They also ordered two different lines of the Japanese imperial family to alternate rulers, in an attempt to keep either branch from becoming too powerful. Nonetheless, Emperor Go-Daigo of the Southern Court named his own son as his successor in 1331, sparking a rebellion that brought down the Hojo and their Minamoto puppets in 1333. They were replaced, in 1336, by the Ashikaga Shogunate based in the Muromachi part of Kyoto. The Goseibai Shikimoku remained in force until the Tokugawa or Edo Period. The blade shows natural age surface thinning, and some open grain areas, but as to be expected and certainly not surprising for such an ancient piece. If one looks closely at the nakago the bottom mounting hole [mekugi ana] is so ancient that small areas of delamination are visible around the rim. Victor Harris, former Keeper of the Department of Japanese Antiquities at the British Museum in London, once told us that you really can often only see that incredible natural aging feature in truly ancient steel samurai blades that are approaching, or over, a thousand years old. Overall 12.75 inches long, blade length tsuba to tip 8.5 inches
An Ancient Samurai Nambokochu Era Hira Zukuri Tanto Circa 1390 A simply stunning and superb quality Edo period polished giant ray skin saya, in fabulous condition, with kodzuka pocket containing its kodzuka utility knife. Very attractive tsuba of an oval copper plate with inlaid takebori figures of a mounted samurai and retainers. Copper and gold onlaid fushi kashira. The blade is most ancient and beautiful looking. A samurai weapon perfect for one who is interested in ancient samurai history and the form of original weapons carried at that time. The hamon is very narrow indeed. Due to its great age, and its yakiba contacts with the edge.
An Ancient, Most Beautiful & Singularly Stunning 15th Century Katana Around 535 years old. Stylized 'Tiger's Tail' saya which is a most dramatic symbol of samurai high status, there is a famous print of Shogun Oda Nobunaga with his tachi in a tigers tail saya. Circa 1480, signed but, due to great age the signature is near illegible. An ancient tachi blade that in the Koto era was changed by it's fittings to be worn as a katana. Imperial white silk wrap [ito], and most elegant fittings in nanako ground patinated copper with pure gold mon of the Ken-Hanabishi clan kamon, originaly used by the Takeda clan [without ken] such as the famous Takeda Shingen. The tsuba is iron ground with gold inlays around figures. The menuki under the imperial white silk binding are in the form of arrows with strap cutting heads, outlined in gold. The blade is super showing a delightful hamon and in full traditional polish. The sword is signed tachi mei but not translatable any more. The saya is nishiji and black contrasting spiral lacquer. In the ancient period the tachi was used primarily on horseback, where it was able to be drawn efficiently for cutting down enemy foot soldiers. On the ground it was still an effective weapon, but somewhat awkward to use. The uchigatana was the predecessor to the katana as the battle-blade of feudal Japan's bushi (warrior class), and as it evolved into the later design, the two were often differentiated from each other only by how they were worn and by the fittings for the blades. It was during the Mongol invasions that it was shown there were some weaknesses in the tachi sword which led to the development of the Katana. It is said that hanabishi was first used as a family crest by the Kai-Takeda clan, and Takeda hanabishi, which has a standard design, was used as the official family crest of the Takeda family. 40.5 inches long approx overall in saya
An Antique Edo Period Iron Large Tsuba Inlaid with Silver Leaves The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament 81mm
An Antque Edo Period Men-Netsuke of a Noh Mask Likely an inro netsuke. men-netsuke or "mask netsuke" - These were imitations of full-size noh masks and share characteristics in common with both katabori and manju/kagamibuta. Face of a Jo an old man with moustach and glass eyes. From the ancient Japanese tradition of mask drama that can trace its origins to the Bugaku Imperial Court dancing of the 9th century. Noh is the classical theatre of Japan which was codified in the 14th century under the father and son actors Kan'ami and Zeami under the patronage of the Shogun (supreme military leader) Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. The performances utilise masks and elaborate costume. Netsuke, like the inro and ojime, evolved over time from being strictly utilitarian into objects of great artistic merit and an expression of extraordinary craftsmanship. Such objects have a long history reflecting the important aspects of Japanese folklore and life. Netsuke production was most popular during the Edo period in Japan, around 1615–1868. Today, the art lives on, and some modern works can command high prices in the UK, Europe, the USA, Japan and elsewhere. Okimono, small and purely decorative sculptures, were often made by the same artists who produced netsuke. Probably 18th century. 2.25 x 1.75 inches
An Attractive Samurai Shinto Aikuchi Tanto Circa 1650 Original Edo lacquer saya, simple hilt with giant rayskin wrap. Buffalo horn fittings. Good blade with undulating hamon and cormorants neck form blade shape.The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi., but this scarce type is Unokubi Zukuri
An Early Iron O-Sukashi Katana Tsuba Decorated with Samurai Clan Kamon It has has very fine chisseling to the open pattern. Decorated with most unusual layered surface gilding on one side. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament
An Edo Era 'Tokugawa' Tachi, Mounted With a Koto Blade Circa 1400 A small tachi around two thirds the size of a regular tachi, around wakazashi sized, with elaborate Meiji period pressed bronze patinated koshirae bearing clan mon and a full applied décor based on flowers and plants. The blade is simply delightful, with a typical, early, Muramachi , thin and most elegant suguha hamon. This sword would likely have been fitted in the late Tokugawa era, with an ancient ancestral blade of a samurai, for a ceremony and festival known as 'boys day'. For the Japanese boy, the boys day festival was the entry-point, the beginning of the journey to a time and a place where heroes lived and legends were made. They were taught the elements of bushido and Japanese military history through dolls dressed as samurai accompanied with decorated banners and accoutrements, showing images of the great samurai and warriors of the past. Boys of high clan status may be given boy sized suits of traditional samurai armour to wear during the festival, and thus also to carry the legendary samurai's tachi swords, as did their fathers before them. Some only had symbolic swords with false blades, others however, might have real swords, and in the most fortunate and esteemed families, they had swords set with ancient and ancestral wakazashi blades such as this beautiful sword. Tango no Sekku is the martial element and is embodied in the earliest term known for Boy's Day: Tango no sekku or Feast of the First Day of the White Horse. A white horse was believed to spring from a union between a dragon and a mare, a steed known for its valour and courage, suited for a hero. Horses were brought to Japan in the early 5th century. Records indicate that during the reign of Emperor Yuryaku (457-478), equestrian events were sponsored during the 5th month in conjunction with other spring rites to encourage mastery in this area. Called yabusame, the event consisted of shooting arrows from horseback at stationary targets. The horse fundamentally changed the nature of Japanese combat, and images of the ideal warrior soon centered on the horse. Kyuba no michi (Way of the Horse and Bow) was one of the earliest martial codes of behavior which later became the Bushi-do or "Way of the Warrior". Tango no Sekku celebrated this connection: horse and rider, courage and bravery . Some of the warrior images would include, say, Kato Kiyomasa (1562-1611). He was an aramusha or "rough warrior", and was particularly helpful to Hideyoshi during the campaigns in Korea beginning in 1592; there he was nicknamed kisho-kan or "devil general," for his tenacity and cruelty. In 1611 just before his death, Kiyomasa wrote in Cook's words: "Having been born into the house of a warrior, one's intentions should be to grasp the long and short swords and die." Boys' Day display elements (kazari) reflect the dual emphasis on the idealized martial and the talismanic spiritual. Fukinagashi (streamers) were military banners and pennants whose fluttering ends drove away evil. Kabuto, the distinctive battle helmet was believed to protect a house against evil and often made of spiritwarding iris leaves to further its talismanic effect. Musha-ningyô were heirs to the talismanic tradition: dolls were seen as substitutes (katashiro), diverting evil away from the child and revered for their protective powers. The tsuka bears no mekugi [traditional blade retaining peg] the blade is held in place by friction. Three small flower emblems lacking on the mounts. Overall 30inches long, blade tsuba to tip 18.5 inches long.
An Edo O Sukashi Wakazashi or Tanto Tsuba In Iron Circa 1650. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament.
An Edo Period Armourers Hot Stamp Chrysanthemum Katana Tsuba Iron plate tsuba in circular shape with omote and ura surfaces showing multiple kiku stamp designs.Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
An Edo Period Gold Wire & Silk Thread Japanese Samurai Kiseru [Pipe] Case Circa 1780. Completely decorated with the Manji [swastika] mon of the Hachisuka clan. The Edo period (1603-1868) that precedes the development of cigarettes in Japan was the heyday of kiseru. From the early seventeenth century when the bans were lifted, tobacco was already well established in all classes as a luxury goods. It was at this time that really developed the use of kiseru and the socalled "kizami tobacco", a very finely shredded tobacco. In the Edo period there was in the high society the "Tobacco Ceremony" or "The Way of Tobacco" (tabako-do]. As for the tea ceremony, for example, rules of politeness and decorum were fixed. It was the "good manners to give and receive the kiseru" Here's how the rules were set: 1 - If one has a guest foremost one soukd prepare the tabako-bon ("tobacco tray"). 2 - the guest will not start smoking before the arrival of the owner. 3 - The owner, upon his arrival, first say, "Would you please smoke some tobacco." 4 - The guest politely decline the offer saying, "I would not dare, the master should smoke first." [Repeat two or three times the 3 and 4 politeness…] 5 - The master of the house takes a paper towel with which he carefully clean the the kiseru and hands it to his guest, saying, "Please, try this. ' 6 - The guest can finally begin to smoke, not forgetting to compliment for the nice taste of the tobacco… Around mid-Edo, the Japanese started to want smoking outside their homes. To do so, and carry their kiseru they developed different accessories like "tabako-ire.". When finishing their studies, they would receive a "tabako-ire" reward. These are usually hung on the belt of the kimono and thus they became a social sign : young people could show them off and tell everyone "see, I'm adult" It also became very fashionable to have a silver "nobe kiseru". It was an essential fashion accessory for young people from rich houses. The presence of kiseru in many woodblock prints of the Edo period attests to the importance of this object in the daily life in that period. But from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the Edo period, cigarettes imported from the West and Russia became increasingly popular. Approx 12 inches long.
An Edo Period Maedate Samurai's Helmet Crest Mount The Samurai Maedate is a crest that is attached to the front of the kabuto (samurai helmet) which could represent a specific clan, unit, rank, personality trait or to invoke a divine spirit’s power to flow through the samurai. The samurai maedate were crafted from different materials (brass, wood and paper where most common), in different shapes, sizes and designs. The most notable designs where often of Deities and animals or dragons. The maedate can also be hung on display on the wall of over entryways.
An Edo Period Samurai Horseman Ryo-Shinogi Yari Polearm With original pole and iron foot mount ishizuki. Very nicely polished four sided double edged head. The mochi-yari, or "held spear", is a rather generic term for the shorter Japanese spear. It was especially useful to mounted Samurai. In mounted use, the spear was generally held with the right hand and the spear was pointed across the saddle to the soldiers left front corner. The warrior's saddle was often specially designed with a hinged spear rest (yari-hasami) to help steady and control the spear's motion. The mochi-yari could also easily be used on foot and is known to have been used in castle defense. The martial art of wielding the yari is called sojutsu. A yari on it's pole can range in length from one metre to upwards of six metres (3.3 to 20 feet). The longer hafted versions were called omi no yari while shorter ones were known as mochi yari or tae yari. The longest hafted versions were carried by foot troops (ashigaru), while samurai usually carried a shorter hafted yari. Yari are believed to have been derived from Chinese spears, and while they were present in early Japan's history they did not become popular until the thirteenth century.The original warfare of the bushi was not a thing for "commoners"; it was a ritualized combat usually between two warriors who may challenge each other via horseback archery and sword duels. However, the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 changed Japanese weaponry and warfare. The Mongol-employed Chinese and Korean footmen wielded long pikes, fought in tight formation, and moved in large units to stave off cavalry. Polearms (including naginata and yari) were of much greater military use than swords, due to their much greater range, their lesser weight per unit length (though overall a polearm would be fairly hefty), and their great piercing ability. Swords in a full battle situation were therefore relegated to emergency sidearm status from the Heian through the Muromachi periods. The pole has has the top lacquer section relacquered in the past 50 years or so.
An Edo Period Samurai Kusari and Plate Lower Leg Protector Circa 1700. Original artifacts that would make a fascinating display feature. Collecting parts of original armour for artistic display is a tradtion that goes back thousands of years, in fact as fore as long as armour has been worn. In ancient Rome armour was collected as cwar trophies and proudly displayed in all the grear Roman villas from the Emperor down. Japanese armour was generally constructed from many small iron (tetsu) and or leather (nerigawa) scales (kozane) and or plates (ita-mono), connected to each other by rivets and lace (odoshi) made from leather and or silk, and or chain armour (kusari). These armour plates were usually attached to a cloth or leather backing. Japanese armour was designed to be as lightweight as possible as the samurai had many tasks including riding a horse and archery in addition to swordsmanship. The armour was usually brightly lacquered to protect against the harsh Japanese climate. Chain armour (kusari) was also used to construct individual armour pieces and full suits of kusari were even used. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered the so-called peaceful Edo period, but conflict remained through internecine and clan rivalry. Samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status and for extreme combat. During the Edo period light weight, portable and secret hidden armours became popular as there was still a need for personal protection. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, peasant revolts required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armour jacket) and armoured sleeves as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing. Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armour) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane). Armour continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji period) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armour happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion.
An Edo Period Samurai War Hat Jingasa with Clan Mon In dark brown lacquer with gold clan kamon, a Takeda type kamon with four added ken. Complete with original interior pad and cords. Apart from protection (the main function), a jingasa carried out the functions essential to caps: sunshade and rainshelter. It played too the role of a marker indicating the status of the wearer’s family in society. They were used as a container or weapon too. Jingasa developed both in shape and decoration during the Edo era (1603-1867) and were a symbol of samurai culture. The Jingasa could also be a conical helmet most commonly worn with Ashigaru Armour. It could be made of hardened lacquered leather, but also sometimes with iron. The vast majority of these are made in what Akemi Masaharu calls the ‘dry lacquer technique’. This would involve gluing layers of cloth and / or paper together into a wooden mould, perhaps with some thin wood or bamboo strips as reinforcement, until a sufficient thickness was obtained, then lacquering. An alternative was to make them from coiled twisted paper strings, with each turn sewn to the next with another string. When lacquered, the whole structure was stiffened sufficiently to hold its shape. In both cases the result is a lightweight basic shape that could be individualised with decorations in lacquer. The jingasa would also commonly be marked with the mon of the lord or clan to help identify the warrior's side on a battlefield. Overall in nice condition for age with areas of small lacquer wear marks, surface cracking and small field repair at the front rim top..
An Edo Period Wakazashi or Tanto Iron Tsuba of Crashing Waves Of crashing waves and spray with sea birds flying. The seigaiha or wave is a pattern of layered concentric circles creating arches, symbolic of waves or water and representing surges of good luck. It can also signify power and resilience. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament.
An Edo Sukashi Tsuba Decorated With Birds In Flight Made for a Katana but with a square section adaption to mount on a polearm as well. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
An Edo Wakazashi Unokubi Zukuri 'Cormorants Neck' Blade Form Complete Edo period fittings, koshirae [mounts] lacquer saya, round plain iron tsuba, plain iron fushi kashira and patinated copper menuki. Gold silk wrap over traditional giant rayskin. Bright polished late Edo period blade with scalloped back edge [unokubi zukuri, or cormorants neck]. An antique Japanese wakazashi in smart order with all antique plain fittings. A most attractive yet a most inexepensive example. The habaki [small blade collar] is silvered. The blade has a few very small and feint surface light scratches as one might expect. Shown with a kodzuka [utility knife] for illustration only, not included
An Exceptional 5th Generation Tadayoshi Wakazashi Circa 1730 Now beautifully repolished with a fine suguha hamon. From the great school of Tadayoshi smiths. With all it's original superb pure gold decorated fittings featuring takebori fans over a nanako ground. A really nice namban sukashi tsuba of the ancient traditional of the dragon and the phoenix. Menuki of a buffalo drawing a cart all embellished with pure gold, and a shishi [lion dog]. The saya is it's original Edo lacquer inlaid with small pieces of polished abilone shell. It has it's kodzuka knife in the saya pocket of gold and patinated copper. The whole piece is of very fine quality and singularly attractive. The Godai Tadayoshi (Fifth Generation) was born in 1696. He was the son of the Omi Daijo Tadayoshi ( Fourth Generation). He began working around 1716 and worked until his death in 1775. He signed Hizen Kuni Tadahiro while his father was alive. He is also known to have signed Dai-mei for his father. After his father's death in 1747 he changed his signature to read Hizen (no) Kuni Tadayoshi. He received the title Omi (no) Kami in 1750 after which he began signing Hizen Kuni Omi (no) Kami Tadayoshi. He is the first of the later smiths to sign "Omi (no) Kami" and he is known by that nickname. This smith had a long working life and produced a good number of swords. Although a later generation, his work is considered to resemble that of the first generation. He is considered to be the last of the "Shinto" Tadayoshi smiths. The next generation (6th) marks the beginning of the "Shinshinto" Tadayoshi smiths. Total length in saya 24.75, 18.5 inch blade tsuba to tip.
An Iron Plate Katana Edo Tsuba Decorated With Small Figures In Rain Garb Circa 1650. Small fishermen towing nets wearing rain hats and tied straw body coverings. With large fauna as a side decoration. With kozuka and kogaiana. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament
Arrived Today 60+ Fabulous Early Samurai Swords, Daggers & Accoutrements This is a sample photo of another 'six figure' collection of 60 plus, Fabulous, Early Samurai Swords, Daggers, Accoutrements and Fittings that have just arrived. Including; a Katana by Tamba no kami Yoshimichi, two Katana by Father and Son Swordsmiths, Bizen Osafune Yokayama Sukenaga and Bizen Osafune Yokayama Sukekane, a Wakazashi by Nobukuni, and a Fabulous Tanto By Naomasa [a student of the great Naotane]. Plus, some beautiful tsuba, including Soten, and Goto school, and sukash tsuba including a pair of beautiful daisho tsuba, and tsuba for katana, wakazashi anf tanto. Plus sword mounts such as menuki, fushigashira, & kodzuka, and a stunning pair of silver inlaid samurai's horse stirrups, and two single stirrups. We are preparing these for our coming new Post Centenary Anniversary 'Summer Season'. They will all be assembled photographed and added to our site [once our sale has finished] over the next few months, hopefully then lock-down has freed us all up, and we all enter into to our 'new normal' life of mid 2020 and beyond.
Ashigaru Samurai Foot Soldier's Conical Jingasa Helmet Edo Period Toppai jingasa with agari-fuji mon. Ashigaru were foot-soldiers employed by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The first known reference to ashigaru was in the 14th century, but it was during the Ashikaga shogunate–Muromachi period that the use of ashigaru became prevalent by various warring factions. shigaru were commonly armed with naginata, yari, yumi and swords. Ashigaru armour varied depending on the period, from no armour to heavily armored and could consist of conical hats called jingasa made of lacquered hardened leather or iron, cuirasses (d?), helmets (kabuto), armoured hoods (tatami zukin), armored sleeves (kote), greaves (suneate), and cuisses (haidate). The warfare of the Sengoku period (15th and 16th centuries) required large quantities of armour to be produced for the ever-growing armies of ashigaru. Simple munition quality cuirasses and helmets were produced including tatami armour which could be folded or were collapsible. Tatami armour was made from small rectangular or hexagonal iron plates that were usually connected to each other by chainmail and sewn to a cloth backing. In the 16th century the ashigaru were also armed with matchlocks of the type known as tanegashima. Small banners called sashimono could be worn on their backs during battle for identification. In the Sengoku period the aspect of the battle changed from single combat to massed formations. Therefore, ashigaru became the backbone of many feudal armies and some of them rose to greater prominence. Those who were given control of ashigaru were called ashigarugashira. The most famous of them was Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who also raised many of his warrior followers to samurai status. Yamauchi Kazutoyo was one of such samurai and later daimyo who rose from ashigaru. Ashigaru were considered to be of the samurai class in some han (domains), but not in others
Beautiful Edo Shinshinto 'Art Sword' Quality Katana Signed Ishido Hisanaga A samurai battle sword yet made with the highest quality fittings and mounts of their type. Stella koshirae of carved shakudo decorated with Japanese bottle gourd plants, with matching shakudo bottle gourd menuki under the silk hilt wrap [ito]. Very fine tsuba also of shakudo decorated with dragon and flowering plants and pure hammered gold flower heads, it has a copper rim [mimi]. Original Edo silk wrap of black over black giant rayskin. Signed and dated [1865] long blade. Samurai swords of highest quality are often referred to in Japan as 'art swords', this is due to the complexity of its manufacture and result is often a true work of art as well as a weapon of war. The absolute beginning of a Japanese sword is the unique tamahagane steel. This steel ore was made in a low clay furnace known as the tatara. The furnace master was called the Murage who wouldn’t lose sight of the tatare once it has been lit. Besides the murage the furnace required a dozen additional workers to operate it through its 7 day Tamahagane production cycle. The tatara was only operated three weeks per year. During each winter – when the air humidity is the lowest - the tatara was fired up. Tosho The Tosho or blade smith gathered the required steel for a sword by selecting the right steel wafers made of flattened pieces of Tamahagane ore. The pieces would be forged together and would go through a folding process creating thousands of layers in the steel (which takes about 12-14 folds). The biggest misconception is that the steel is folded hundreds or thousands of times. Too many folds would actually reduce the carbon content of the steel. Thousands folds would create a useless piece of steel with less carbon than a soft iron nail. The main tools you would find in a Japanese sword forge are similar to what you would find in a Western forge: hammers, anvils and of course the forge itself with a bellow to push air into the forge. A Tosogu-shi (or kinko-shi) was a sword fitting maker or fine metal worker. The tosogu-shi made the metal parts of a Japanese sword such as the tsuba, fuchi and kashira and menuki. Also optional saya decoration such as the koijiri, semegane, saya-jiri, kogai and kozuka are made by the tosogu-shi / kinko-shi. This art used chisels, files, jeweller's saws and punches to create incredible details in a sword’s furniture and applies multiple patina techniques to add colour to the created piece. The most common materials to make sword fittings were steel, copper, several copper based alloys, gold, silver and brass. Besides the base materials, the Japanese art of metalworking often uses inlays of gold, silver as well as specific Japanese alloys such as shibuichi (copper and silver alloy) and shakudo (copper and gold alloy). A nuri-shi is a lacquerer. The Japanese lacquer tradition is seen in many objects including plates, boxes and other daily things.
Colonel-General Ancestral Officer's Samurai Sword With A 700 Year Old Blade From the ancient Kamakura period of Japan, around the time of the attempted Mongol Invasions of Japan. This fabulous historical and partly ancient sword was last used and thus mounted in it's WW2 pattern, deluxe quality, high ranking officer's shin gunto wartime fittings, with a most unusual and fine brown deluxe grade army type polished and brown giant ray skin covered saya. Probably made for a WW2 Japanese Colonel or even General, serving in the Pacific Theatre. This is most rare as 99% of this deluxe type of polished rayskin saya were made in black, for the use of officer's in the Imperial Japanese Navy. We have always specialised in ancient samurai blades, and many have been last mounted in WW2 officer's sword fittings, but this example is truly exceptional for it's age, beauty and condition. Although this sword was made during the period of the Nambokochu wars, it would have been used continually another 650 years right up to and including WW2 [until it was brought to England in around 1946], during which time it would simply have been used in too many conflicts and wars to count or list here. It would also have likely been carried with pride by as many as 30 generations of samurai during these centuries, and revered as the most important possession of every man that ever carried it, and used it in battle in the service of their Daimyo [Lords]. To put the age of this sword into European perspective, in equivalent English period terms, when this dagger was being used by a samurai in Japan, Robert the Bruce was King of Scotland and Edward 'The Black Prince' was made Prince of Wales by Edward IIIrd. Robert I (11 July 1274 – 7 June 1329), popularly known as 'Robert the Bruce' was King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329. The Kamakura period was the era when the shogun stayed in Kamakura without much power while deputies of him were located in Kyoto and Western Japan. Stewards and constables controlled the provinces tightly and loyally. Indeed, the Hojo regents were able to bring several decades of peace and economic expansion to the country until an external power began to threaten Japan. By 1259, the Mongols had conquered China and became also interested in Japan. Several threatening messages of the powerful Mongols were ignored by Kamakura. This resulted in the first Mongol invasion attempt in 1274 on the island of Kyushu. After only a few hours of fighting, however, the large naval invasion fleet, was forced to pull back because of bad weather conditions. This was very fortunate for the Japanese since their odds against the large and modern Mongol force were not favourable at all. Due to good preparations, the Japanese were able to maintain a strong defence for several weeks during a second invasion attempt which occurred in 1281. But again, the Mongols were finally forced to withdraw mainly because of bad weather. Kyushu remained in alert for a possible third invasion attempt, but the Mongols soon had too many problems on the mainland in order to care about Japan. The consequences of the many years of war preparations against the Mongols were fatal to the Kamakura government since they resulted only in expenditures and no profits. Many of the loyal men who were fighting for Kamakura, were now waiting for rewards that the government could not pay. Hence, financial problems and decreasing loyalty among the powerful lords were some of the reasons for the fall of the Kamakura government. Blade length tip to tsuba 28.5 inches We show in the gallery a photograph of the rank of officer likely to have carried such a very fine but ancient historical samurai sword
Early Shinto Samurai Katana, Circa 1600 of Great Beauty and Quality A simply remarkable and beautiful samurai katana from the early Edo period with a full suite of original matching mounts and fittings, including, an outstanding rare early Edo, period Japanese iron Heianjo Zogan mokko form tsuba with wonderful brass inlay and fine sukashi. Simply stunning original Edo saya decorated with pine needles and crushed abilone shell. Although the design of the pine needles and abalone looks random it was actually set out each piece one by one to appear random, because actual randomness would create clumps and unattractive separation, to make it appear beautiful, yet random, it would have taken likely many weeks of labour intensive work to achieve. This saya alone would have taken likely very much over a year to create by the Japanese artisan, by hand, in the Edo period. The fushi-gashira are decorated with complimentary brass inlay designed with spider webs and silver butterflies. Blade 24 1/3 inches long from tsuba to tip,35 1/2 inches long overall
Early, Koto Period Kô Katchushi Iron Sukashi Mon Katana Tsuba Sword Guard Uchigatana tsuba are known as Kô Tosho (sword smiths), Kô Katchushi (armour smiths) and Ji Sukashi tsuba. In regards to Kô Tosho and Kô Katchushi tsuba, it is generally thought that the Kô Tosho sword guards were introduced in or around the early Kamakura period [1192-1396ad] and were for the most part, the product of sword smiths. Kô Katchushi are thought to be a secondary line of work produced by Armour makers. The general theory is that these guards came into production at either the end of the Kamakura period or the early Nambokuchô period. Both Kô Tosho and Kô Katchushi tsuba are also known as Mon-sukashi which refers to an openwork method used in their design. Shapes are pierced in negative silhouette into the flat body of the guard. The image is defined by the removal of the iron from the base.
Edo Period Iron Mokko Katana Tsuba Circa 1690 Iron plate tsuba in mokko shape with omote and ura surfaces showing multiple kiku stamp designs..Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
Fabulous 600 Year Old Signed Tanto Rare All Tempered Double Hamon Blade Signed Kanesada. Now superbly polished, a delightful ancient samurai dagger with a captivating ancient blade of around 600 years old. Museum quality fittings all with a theme of the sea. The fushi kashira and kodzuka [utility side knife] are all decorated with pure gold, chissled in full relief called takebori, of exotic sea shells and crashing waves, and the tsuba is similarly decorated to match with pure gold highlighted takebori and crashing waves, in the style that later influenced one of the worlds greatest artists, Hokusai, The seigaiha or wave can be symbolic such as a pattern of layered concentric circles creating arches, symbolic waves or water, representing surges of good luck. It can also signify power and resilience. The blade is superbly tempered with deep undulating hamon on both the edge and the back. A most rare feature to see, and a very fine itame running grain hada. The tsuka [hilt] in wrapped same [pronounced sarmay, which is giant rayskin] with menuki of superb water dragon. This sword [all tanto are called swords in samurai culture] would very likely have been used in the Onin War (1467–1477) which led to serious political fragmentation and obliteration of domains: a great struggle for land and power ensued among bushi chieftains and lasted until the mid-sixteenth century. Peasants rose against their landlords and samurai against their overlords, as central control virtually disappeared.The shugo daimyo were the first group of men to hold the title "daimyo". They arose from among the shugo during the Muromachi period. The shugo daimyo held not only military and police powers, but also economic power within a province. They accumulated these powers throughout the first decades of the Muromachi period. The Onin War was a major uprising in which shugo daimyo fought each other. During this and other wars of the time, kuni ikki, or provincial uprisings, took place as locally powerful warriors sought independence from the shugo daimyo. The deputies of the shugo daimyo, living in the provinces, seized the opportunity to strengthen their position. At the end of the fifteenth century, those shugo daimyo who succeeded remained in power. Those who had failed to exert control over their deputies fell from power and were replaced by a new class, the "sengoku daimyo", who arose from the ranks of the shugodai'K and Ji-samurai. Blade tsuba to tip 9 inches approx, overall in saya 19.25 inches long
Fabulous Japanese Large Sasaho Yari Polearm, With Rare Socket Head, Signed. The size, strength, weight and mass of such a yari spear-head a samurai could easily believe that with this polearm he was powerful enough to bring down a dragon. This is absolutely no regular size samurai yari. Edo period probably Shinto signed Kiyo Tsugu. A much larger and heavier head than usual, and as opposed to a long tang it has the earlier type of socket mount to affix over the pole haft. With original pole and iron foot mount, and blade saya cover. Large leaf shaped blade. The martial art of wielding the yari is called sojutsu. A yari on it's pole can range in length from one metre to upwards of six metres (almost 20 feet). The longer hafted versions were called omi no yari while shorter ones were known as mochi yari or tae yari. The longest hafted versions were carried by foot troops (ashigaru), while samurai usually carried a shorter hafted yari. Yari are believed to have been derived from Chinese spears, and while they were present in early Japan's history they did not become popular until the thirteenth century.The original warfare of the bushi was not a thing for "commoners"; it was a ritualized combat usually between two warriors who may challenge each other via horseback archery and sword duels. However, the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 changed Japanese weaponry and warfare. The Mongol-employed Chinese and Korean footmen wielded long pikes, fought in tight formation, and moved in large units to stave off cavalry. Polearms (including naginata and yari) were of much greater military use than swords, due to their much greater range, their lesser weight per unit length (though overall a polearm would be fairly hefty), and their great piercing ability. Swords in a full battle situation were therefore relegated to emergency sidearm status from the Heian through the Muromachi periods. Total head size, 32cm including mounting socket, edged blade size 18.5cm x 4cm at widest. Full length including haft and fitted saya [blade cover] 142cm
Fine Tanto Signed Bizen Osafune Sukesada Dated 1513 Fine Koto era blade with double short narrow hi on one side and a shorter wide hi on the opposite signed and dated 1513. Signed by one of the great lines of samurai swordsmiths, Sukesada. Unusually dated tanto in great condition. Fine fushi kashira with shakudo dragonfly décor and a small mokko form tsuba inlaid with a stylized gold dragon. Fine kodzuka with full relief décor of sages highlights in gold. Original Edo lacquer saya in ishime stone lacquer. Under the original silk ito are gilded ponies menuki. Blade 12 inches long from tsuba to tip
Huge 400 Year Old Samurai Tanto Signed Omi Kami Minamoto Kagahiro Shinto period from Settsu. A beautiful large samurai dagger with status blade. Squared sukashi tsuba in iron, pure gold inlaid shakudo fushi, decorated with constelation inlaid with gold over a nanako ground, with carved buffalo horn kashira. Pure gold and shakudo menuki of takabori crabs. Fine shakudo kodzuka decorated in relief with mount Fuji, two piece habaki. Wide blade without ridge line flat sided with suguha hamon. A most impressive and sizeable tanto. It has its original Edo period lacquered saya [scabbard] in rich dark brown, with kodzuka of shakudo decorated with a fishermen in a small boat with mount Fuiji in the distance. Kodzuka blade very nicely signed. Shakudo is a billon of gold and copper (typically 4-10% gold, 96-90% copper) which can be treated to form an indigo/black patina resembling lacquer. Unpatinated shakudo Visually resembles bronze; the dark color is induced by applying and heating rokusho, a special patination formula. Shakudo Was historically used in Japan to construct or decorate katana fittings such as tsuba, menuki, and kozuka; as well as other small ornaments. When it was introduced to the West in the mid-19th century, it was thought to be previously unknown outside Asia, but recent studies have suggested close similarities to certain decorative alloys used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The lacquer surface of the saya has some age bruising etc. due to its vintage.
Impressive and Beautiful Wakizashi Signed Musashi ju Fujiwara Suketaka This Shinshinto period sword has a spectacular looking blade with a gloriously beautiful hamon. The fittings fushi kashira are Higo style, inlaid with silver. The original Edo period saya has a kodzuka pocket fitted with a very nice Edo kodzuka of a patinated copper handle with a takebori flying crane and a half moon. The Edo iron sukashi tsuba depicting the three commas mitsudomoe. They represent magatama. Magatama are curved, comma-shaped beads that appeared in prehistoric Japan from the Final Jomon period through the Kofun period, approximately ca. 1,000 BC to the 6th century AD. The beads, also described as jewels, were made of primitive stone and earthen materials in the early period, but by the end of the Kofun period were made almost exclusively of jade. Magatama originally served as decorative jewelry, but by the end of the Kofun period functioned as ceremonial and religious objects. Archaeological evidence suggests that magatama were produced in specific areas of Japan and were widely dispersed throughout the Japanese archipelago via trade routes.
Iron Round Katana Tsuba With Amidayasuri and Wave Rim Koto period circa 1550 with very finely chisseled designs. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
Japanese WW2 Officer's 'Comfort Bag' With Soap Case and Soap Still Present. Souvenirs of an allied soldier fighting in the Pacific War campaign in WW2. A mighty rare thing in many ways. An original, military, Imperial Japanese Army issue khaki drawstring comfort bag for toiletries with all it's army markings, but it still contains it's original plastic [artificial mother o'pearl] soap box and it's unused bar of military issue soap with impressed kanji markings.
Katana Hizen kuni Dewa no kami Yukihiro Circa 1670 Made For the Nabeshima All original Edo fittings to compliment the blade. 1670 Iron Higo mounts with pure gold inlaid Imperial chrysanthemum mon to the fushi and kashira. Round iron 1670 Edo tsuba. Original Edo period lacquer saya. Yukihiro was a swordsmith of Hizen province, and as we believe this sword was made by him around 1670, he was making his swords for the Nebeshima at this time, so we believe it is very likely this was created intially for one of that family clan. He was the Second son of Hashimoto Yoshinobu. Yukihiro acquired the title of Dewa Daijo in 1648 and was ranked up to Dewa (No) Kami in 1663. He travelled to Nagasaki to learn under Hisatsugu and Tanenaga who were highly informed about western steels brought to Japan by the Dutch. Yukihiro also studied Bizen-den style under the swordsmith that belonged to the Ishido School and sometimes added the character Ichi to his signature. Later he became a retained swordsmith of the Nabeshima family and lived in Nagase town. He passed away in 1683, aged 66. The clan controlled Saga Domain from the late Sengoku period through the Edo period. The Nabeshima clan was a cadet branch of the Shoni clan and was descended from the Fujiwara clan. In the late 12th century, Fujiwara no Sukeyori, a descendant of Fujiwara no Hidesato in the 9th generation, received the title of Dazai Shoni (equivalent to that of vice-governor of the military government of Kyushu) from Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo, and the title became the family name. The clan played an important role in the region as early as the Muromachi period, when it helped suppress opposition to the Ashikaga shogunate's control of Kyushu. It did not take the name Nabeshima, however, until the late 15th century, when Sh?ni Shigenao established himself at Nabeshima in Hizen province (today part of Saga City, Saga prefecture). Later, in the Sengoku period (1467-1603), the Nabeshima were one of a number of clans which clashed over the island. The Nabeshima sided with the Ryuzoji clan against the Otomo clan, though this ultimately ended in failure and the death of Ryuzoji Takanobu at the 1584 battle of Okita Nawate. Several years later, however, the Nabeshima recovered power and prominence by aiding Toyotomi Hideyoshi in his 1587 invasion of Kyushu; Nabeshima Naoshige was granted the region of Saga as his fief, as a reward for his efforts. Naoshige also contributed to Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea in the 1590s. The clan initially aided Ishida Mitsunari against Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Sekigahara Campaign in 1600. However, they switched sides to support the Tokugawa, who were ultimately victorious, before the campaign had ended, battling and occupying the forces of Tachibana Muneshige, who was thus prevented from contributing directly to the battle of Sekigahara. Though regarded as tozama daimyo ("outside" lords), and assigned particularly heavy corvee duties, the Nabeshima were allowed to keep their territory in Saga, and in fact had their kokudaka increased. The clan's forces served the new Tokugawa shogunate loyally in the years which followed; they remained in Kyushu during the 1615 Osaka Campaign as a check against a possible rebellion or uprising by the Shimazu clan, and aided in the suppression of the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637. In recognition of their service, members of the clan were granted the prestigious family honorific name of Matsudaira in 1648, Matsudaira being the original Tokugawa family name, the ruling Shogun of Japan for almost 300 years. 29.75 inch blade from tsuba to tip. Overall 39 inches long in saya
Katana Signed Tsuda Omni no Kami Sukenao 1688. A Top Shinto Smith A beautiful yet understated Katana by one of the great names in antique samurai sword making. Signed Tsuda Omni no Kami Sukenao and dated 1688 nakago, with the last two kanji lacking due to shortening. A simply wonderful sword by the adopted son of another sword blade smith that we are also offering. The saya is a black kanshitsu ishime nuri lacquer and a superb crayfish form iron sayajiri [scabbard bottom mount]. Osukashi pierced iron tsuba, and varjira menuki. Beautiful polish blade showing an undulating notare hamon. Sukenao served his apprenticeship in the workshop of Sukehiro I, and soon became the student of Sukehiro II. Sukehiro II, recognizing Sukenao's extraordinary talent, placed him in the position of foremost student. Sukehiro II had other students: Hiromasa, Suketaka, and Sukemune, to name a few. However, Sukenao was the only one who was able to step forth from the aura of fame surrounding his sensei, and be recognized for his own ability. It was during these years that he presumably married the young sister of Sukehiro II. It is also apparent that he was regarded as more of a son than a son-in-law, thus the theory was formed that he may have been the adopted son of Sukehiro I. Sukenao used the surname of Sukehiro "Tsuda," indicating a very close bond between them. 40 inches long overall, blade 27.5 inches long tsuba to tip
Ko Tosho School [Swordsmith Made] Mumei Katana Tsuba Circa 1400 The strong, softly lustrous metal and very well cut, the large Hitsu-ana, and the antique chisel marks around the Hitsu-ana are all characteristic indications of early-Muromachi period works. Carved openwork clan mon. The Hitsu-ana, made when the guard was first produced, suggests that it is a work of the time of Yoshimitsu. A well worked and hammered plate. According to tradition, it says each time a Tosho made a to-ken, he made a habaki with his own hands, and at the same time he also added a single tsuba such as this. The earliest Tosho tsuba are referred to in Japanese as Ko-Tosho “old sword smith” and date from the Genpei War (1180-1185) to middle Muromachi Period (1400-1500). During the late Kamakura Period large Ko-Tosho tsuba were developed and were used mostly as field mounts for odachi by high-ranking Samurai during and after the Mongol invasion of Japan in Genko Jidai (1274-1281 ) in the Muromachi Period (1336-1573) the Ko-Tosho tsuba became even more common with the development and popularization of the onehanded sword uchigatana as the only sword of Ashigaru. The most common design characteristic, next to the plain flat plate, for Ko-Tosho tsuba is kosukashi the simplistic use of small negative silhouetted openwork. The most common openwork designs are of mon (family crest), sun, moon, tools, plants, Buddhist, Shinto and sometimes Christian religious symbols. The plates iron is characteristically of a good temper, having good hardness and elasticity. The plate is made of local iron forged by the swordsmith or apprentice, the same as for Japanese sword blades. 74mm
Koto Tanto By Masaiye With A Full Matching Suite of Edo Mounts Around 500 years old. A stunning tanto with carved steel mounts decorated with geometric Ha-kenkoroitsu pattern, a version of the Hachisuka clan mon, it also has a matching kodzuka with gold inlay to match the gold inlay workmanship on the tsuba. Cockeral menuki and a super oni demon mount on the two tone banded lacquer saya. Signed koshirae and blade by Masaiye circa 1530. Although called the manji in Japan symbolising 10,000 years and infinity, and usually used as a Buddhist symbol for temples, this version though is the Ha-kenkoroitsu (from the German word Hakenkreuz, or crooked cross ) and it describes it as the 45-degree clockwise manji used by the Nazi party. It’s first recorded occurrence of the swastika [named from a sanskirt word] dates all the way back the the 6th to 5th millennium BC when it was used in the “Vinca script” of Neolithic Europe. After that it has been used by primitive society consitently from China to the Americas passing by Greece and Africa. The crooked cross is a historical sacred symbol in all Indian religions. It is used in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It rose to importance in Buddhism during the Mauryan Empire and in Hinduism with the decline of Buddhism in India during the Gupta Empire. It followed the silk road with Buddhism to reach Tibet and China. The symbol was also introduced to Bali with Hinduism by Hindu kings. The use of the swastika by the Bon faith of Tibet, as well as later religions like Cao Dai of Vietnam and Falun Gong of China, can also be traced to Buddhist influence. The oni is the demon of Japanese folklore. It takes on many other names, sometimes referred to as a devil. Unlike most western cultures, the oni is not necessarily seen as an evil being. It is said to be of a dual nature, meaning it's powers can be good or evil, depending on if it likes the subject it attaches itself too. Oni are credited with bringing good health, safety, peace and avoiding disaster. A typical oni mask has horns, bulging eyes, a sinister looking smile and sharp teeth.
Most Attractive Koto Period Tanto Around 600 Years Old Imperial White Ito Fitted with an original suite of mounts from the Edo period, decorated with fine gold and patinated copper takebori of shi shi lion dogs. Original Edo brown laquer saya. This is a most handsome ancient samurai dagger from the muramachi era, with a jolly nice early blade showing good running itame grain in the hada. In the Nambokucho era, the tanto were forged to be up to forty centimetres as opposed to the normal one shaku (about thirty centimetres) length. The tanto blades became thinner between the uri and the omote, and wider between the ha and mune. At this point in time, two styles of hamon were prevalent: the older style, which was subtle and artistic, and the newer, more popular style. Blades could be of exceptional quality. As the end of the period neared, the average blade narrowed and the sori became shallow. 3 interesting and deliberate small cuts made into the tang. Not part of the mounting process so added by the dagger's owner. On western antique weaponry this often means each cut represents a vanquished foe. In Japanese culture it may mean the same, or may not, but either way it is most intriguing. 10 inch blade from tsuba to tip. 16.3 inches long overall in saya.
Our Centenary Anniversary Is Approaching, 100 Years Of Trading As many of you know our family has been trading in Brighton since the end of WW1 and this year it is our centenary. In celebration of our centenary we have been offering our regulars a few special items, just now and again, at well below cost, saving the lucky buyers many thousands of pounds, they are offered as a sincere token of our thanks, and so far the first five of these has been sold within one day!, so if you see them grab them while you can. They are offered on a first come first served basis, and they will appear without warning. We know through our photo archive it certainly dates from 1920, but old family history notes 1919 is the year of the first shop opening. Probably dating to just after the return of the partner's grandfather from his service in the desert campaign in WW1. Their great grandfather also served in WW1, on the top secret naval 'Q-Ships'. During our centenary special offers will appear, so keep an eye peeled and see if you can bag a bargain! The Lanes Armoury, One Of The Last True Armouries In Europe A unique company that has evolved from it's roots, as one of the oldest surviving Sussex family traders, established since the reign of King George Vth. Mark Hawkins [the senior partner] has been involved in the business for almost 50 years, and his younger brother, David, for almost 40. In fact much longer in some respects than 50 years for Mark as he bought his first flintlock gun aged 7 years old. Between them [and their predecessors] they have been supplying and purveying fine arms, armour and antiques to simply too many tens of thousands of clients, from the four corners of the globe, to count them all. From presidents to postmen, all have been most warmly received by the company as esteemed clients and friends. We provide a unique, bespoke service, tailored to suit the needs of every customer, and all are treated equally. Our normal opening hours are Monday to Saturday 11.00am till 5.15 pm. We are available however, all day, on 07721 010085 [+ 44 [0]7721 010085]. Ronald Wilson Reagan [February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) 40th President of the United States (1981–1989). A much missed client and 'friend' of The Lanes Armoury
Please View One of The Best Selections Of Original Samurai Arms in Europe Please View One of The Best Selections Of Original Samurai Arms in Europe Over the past 38 years I have personally supervised our company's determination to provide the most interesting, educational, yet not too intimidating, gallery of original Japanese Samurai weapons, helmets, sword fittings, polearms, muskets and armour. Principally concentrating on a combination of age, beauty, quality and history. Thanks to an extensive contact base [built up over the past 80 years or more] that stretches across the whole world, including collectors [both large and small], curators, academics and consultants, we have been very fortunate, that this effort has rewarded us with the ability to offer, what we believe to be, the most comprehensive selection available in Europe. Although we would never arrogantly credit ourselves to be experts on Japanese Nihonto, for, quite simply, some of the most learned scholars studying this art all theirs lives often only scratch the surface of the knowledge to be learnt in this field, we have always loved history of the Samurai and admired and envied their unparalleled beauty. Our Japanese weapons vary in age up to 700 years old, and are frequently some of the finest examples of specialist workmanship ever achieved by mankind. We have tried to include, within the description of some items, a brief history lesson [for those that are interested, and may not know] that will describe the eras, areas and circumstances that these items were used in. We have tried our utmost to be informative and interesting without being too academic in order to keep the details vibrant, fascinating yet not too complex. Please enjoy, with our compliments, our Japanese Gallery. It has been decades in the creation, and we intend it to remain interesting and informative, hopefully, for decades to come. Mark Hawkins [Partner].
Probably The Largest Selection Of Original Samurai Arms in The World "Over the past 47 years I have personally supervised our company's determination to provide the most interesting, educational, yet not too intimidating, gallery of original Japanese Samurai weapons, helmets, sword fittings, polearms, muskets and armour for sale. And we are told it is now probably the largest selection of its kind in the world. Principally concentrating on a combination of age, beauty, quality and history. Thanks to an extensive contact base [built up over the past 100 years or more] that stretches across the whole world, including collectors, curators, academics and consultants, we have been very fortunate, in that this effort has rewarded us with the ability to offer, what we believe to be, the most comprehensive selection of original ancient and antique samurai swords available for sale in the world. We have exported our samurai weapons, helmets and armour to the four corners of the globe, with clients on all continents. Our swords grace the homes of collectors from literally all walks of life, from Presidents to Postmen, and we have traded with museums of all the major nations. We have always loved the history of the Samurai and their weaponry, and we have long admired and envied their skill at creating the unparalleled beauty and quality of samurai swords. Our Japanese weapons vary tremendously in age, in fact up to and over an incredible 800 years old, and they are frequently some of the finest examples of specialist workmanship ever achieved by mankind. We have tried to include, within the description of most items, a brief generic history lesson [for those that have interest, and may wish to know] that will describe the eras, areas and circumstances that these items were used in ancient Japan. We have tried our utmost to be informative and interesting without being too academic in order to keep the details vibrant, fascinating yet not too complex. Although we would never arrogantly credit ourselves to be all-knowing on Japanese historical Nihonto by any means, we are always delighted to impart such knowledge that we have to any curious new collectors when asked. In fact some of the most learned scholars in the world that we have met, some studying the art of nihonto almost all of their adult lives, often admitted to us they were only scratching the surface of the knowledge to be learnt in this extraordinary field. Please enjoy, with our compliments, our Japanese Gallery. It has been decades in the creation, and we intend it to remain as interesting and informative as possible, and, hopefully, for another century to come"….. Mark Hawkins [Partner].
Shinto Samurai Sankaku su Yari Polearm [Spear], As used as Kago Yari The small kago sankaku yari, was a yari [spear], mounted on a short stabbing pole, and, possibly kept within a palanquin, within a small rack, that could be accessed instantly to defend the person carried within the palanquin [whether it be a daimyo or samurai for example] from an outside attacker attempting to harm or rob them. Extremely effective and efficient when used in the trained hands of an exponent of yari combat. Nice polish, Edo era, single small edge nick [see photo]. Set in Shira saya handle. A small three side bladed yari as could typically be mounted as kago yari. Picture in the gallery depicting a Samurai coming out from his palanquin when facing an assailant, his left hand is obscured for him to reach the kaga yari concealed in it's rack inside Samurai Emerging from a Palanquin by Toyokuni III/Kunisada (1786 - 1864)
Signally Magnificent Samurai Wakizashi Signed Kanenori , Of Museum Grade Circa 1600's. Blade with stunning horimono carving, showing a delightful undulating notare hamon, superb Edo saya with original lacquer and a silver saya bottom mount tang signed Echizen ju Kanenori. This sword is mounted, probably Soten school, in stunning quality, of pure gold decorated, patinated takebori fittings. The Soten school of sword fittings, koshirae and tsuba, was apparently created by one of the great Masamune's students, named Kanemitsu. This is a stunningly beautiful wakizashi from one of the great eras of samurai history at the ending of the turbulent times before the Tokugawa after the Battle of Sekigahara and the start of the Edo period. This fabulous samurai wakizashi was made in the era of some of the most interesting periods of warfare. Samurai warfare history is simply extraordinary, for example, such as the incredible Battle of Okehazama, where a force of 1500 samurai routed a far superior army of 35,000 samurai through skill, audacity and cunning. In this battle, Oda Nobunaga defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto and established himself as one of the front-running warlords in the Sengoku period. In May or June 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto, with an army of perhaps 35,000 men, set forth on a march to Kyoto. Entering the Oda territories in Owari Province, he first took the border fortresses of Washizu and Marune before setting up camp in a wooded gorge known as Dengaku-hazama. This was all reported to Oda Nobunaga by his scouts and, in response, Nobunaga then led his own forces into position at a temple called Zenshoji, a short distance away, on the other side of the Tokaido. Had Nobunaga decided on a frontal assault, the battle would have been deceptively easy to predict; his army was outnumbered ten to one by the Imagawa forces. A frontal assault would be suicidal and an attempt to hold out at Zensho-ji would only last a few days. Because of the odds against their side, some of Nobunaga's advisers even suggested a surrender. Nobunaga, however, decided to launch a surprise attack on the Imagawa camp. When he made his decision, he gave this speech: "Imagawa has 40,000 men marching toward this place? I don't believe that. He 'only' has 35,000 soldiers. Yes, that is still too many. So, Sado, you want me to surrender. What if we do surrender? Will you get content with losing your life that way? Or what if we hold on like Katsuie wants me to? What if we stay here in this castle, lock it up, and wait until the Imagawas lose appetite and stop the siege and go home? We will be able to prolong our lives for 5 or 10 days, and what we cannot defend will still be undefendable. We are at the bottom of the pit, you know. And our fate is interesting. Of course the misery is too great, too. But this is how I see it: this is a chance in a lifetime. I can't afford to miss this. Do you really want to spend your entire lives praying for longevity? We were born in order to die! Whoever is with me, come to the battlefield tomorrow morning. Whoever is not, just stay wherever you are and watch me win it!" Nobunaga left a small force at the temple with a large number of banners, to give the impression that this was the location of his main force. Meanwhile, Oda's main force (about 1,500 men) moved through the forest undetected to the rear of the Imagawa army. The Imagawa samurai, not unsurprisingly, did not expect an attack, and that afternoon was very hot. The histories say that the Imagawa samurai were celebrating their recent victories with song, dance, and sake. An afternoon rainstorm further aided Oda's soldiers who arrived at the Imagawa camp just as the rains came down (this was the afternoon of 12 June). When the storm passed, Nobunaga's men poured into the camp from the north, and the Imagawa warriors lost all discipline and fled from the attackers. This left their commander's tent undefended, and the Oda warriors closed in rapidly. Imagawa Yoshimoto, unaware of what had transpired, heard the noise and emerged from his tent shouting at his men to quit their drunken revelry and return to their posts. By the time he realized, moments later, that the samurai before him were not his own, it was far too late. He deflected one samurai's spear thrust, but was beheaded by another. With their leader dead, and all but two of the senior officers killed, the remaining Imagawa officers joined Oda's army. Soon the Imagawa faction was no more and Oda Nobunaga was famous as his victory was hailed by many in Japan as miraculous. The most important of the samurai lords who joined Oda after this battle was Tokugawa Ieyasu from Mikawa Province. Ieyasu would remain a loyal ally of Nobunaga from this time until the latter's death. Although it can't be seen in the photos, the blade surface is in around 95% bright polish, but has very fine and light overall swirling polish cloth markings. If required it [the light swirling] could be polished out. Blade 18 inches long tip to tsuba overall sword length 24 inches, 24.75 inches in saya
Simply Wonderful, Signed, 18th Century Samurai Horse Armour Abumi This Kaga zougan abumi, is an armoured samurai stirrup, made in iron but of exceptional quality, and bears stunningly beautiful silver inlay of scrolling vines, leaves and berries. This is truly noteworthy museum grade work of art in its own right. An absolutely singular example, perfectly displaying the skill and technical craftsmanship of the highest order, for antique Japanese accoutrements, handmade for a samurai Daimyo [clan lord] or for a Seieibushi samurai the highest ranking of the samurai Made and used as part of his armour saddle fittings, but also for use as much when the samurai was in full armour or in regular daytime wear. The signature, inlaid in pure silver to match the décor translates to 'Made by Katsuo Nagatsugu residing in Kanezawa in Kaga province' a most highly rated and famous maker of finest abumi. Some examples of his work are in the Kanezawa Museum in Japan. Abumi, Japanese stirrups, were used in Japan as early as the 5th century, and were a necessary component along with the Japanese saddle (kura) for the use of horses in warfare. Abumi became the type of stirrup used by the samurai class of feudal Japan Early abumi were flat-bottomed rings of metal-covered wood, similar to European stirrups. The earliest known examples were excavated from tombs. Cup-shaped stirrups (tsubo abumi) that enclosed the front half of the rider's foot eventually replaced the earlier design. During the Nara period, the base of the stirrup which supported the rider's sole was elongated past the toe cup. This half-tongued style of stirrup (hanshita abumi) remained in use until the late Heian period (794 to 1185) when a new stirrup was developed. The fukuro abumi or musashi abumi had a base that extended the full length of the rider's foot and the right and left sides of the toe cup were removed. The open sides were designed to prevent the rider from catching a foot in the stirrup and being dragged. The military version of this open-sided stirrup, called the shitanaga abumi, was in use by the middle Heian period. It was thinner, had a deeper toe pocket and an even longer and flatter foot shelf. It is not known why the Japanese developed this unique style of stirrup, but this stirrup stayed in use until European style-stirrups were introduced in the late 19th century. The abumi has a distinctive swan-like shape, curved up and backward at the front so as to bring the loop for the leather strap over the instep and achieve a correct balance. Most of the surviving specimens from this period are made entirely of iron, inlaid with designs of silver or other materials, and covered with lacquer. In some cases, there is an iron rod from the loop to the footplate near the heel to prevent the foot from slipping out. The footplates are occasionally perforated to let out water when crossing rivers, and these types are called suiba abumi. There are also abumi with holes in the front forming sockets for a lance or banner. Seieibushi (Elite Samurai) Traditionally the highest rank among the samurai, these are highly skilled fully-fledged samurai. Most samurai at the level of Seieibushi take on apprentices or Aonisaibushi-samurai as their disciples. Kodenbushi (Legendary Samurai) A highly coveted rank, and often seen as the highest attainable position, with the sole exception of the rank of Shogun. These are samurai of tremendous capability, and are regarded as being of Shogun-level. Kodenbushi are hired to accomplish some of the most dangerous international missions. Samurai of Kodenbushi rank are extremely rare, and there are no more than four in any given country. Daimyo (Lords) This title translates to 'Big Name' and is given to the heads of the clan. Shogun (Military Dictator) The apex of the samurai, the Shogun is the most prestigious rank possible for a samurai. Shoguns are the leaders of their given district, or country, and are regarded as the most powerful samurai.Beautiful and sophisticated patterns in Kaga zougan have an outstanding, keen feel for designs and such fine expression is supported by the minute methods. The craftsman carves the pattern part on the metallic basis material with a burin (tagane in Japanese), making the bottom wider than the surface (this method is called "ari wo kiru" in Japanese) and inserts and drives in a different metal in the part. Then, the metallic part for the pattern is pressed and spread inside and does not come off itself. This bonding technology was closely employed especially in Kaga to enable to express variously on the metal for expressive work and gained a high reputation as for the solid work. Of all the techniques, "Abumi" (stirrup) has been a synonym for Kaga zougan and well known for the scrupulous technique making sure that the metallic parts of Kaga zougan never come off, in addition to its excellent novel designs and beauty.
Singularly Beautiful Shinto Wakazashi Signed Mondonosho Fujiwara Masakiyo Made circa 1720, around 300 years old. This is truly a spectacular looking samurai short sword. It has wonderful original Edo period fittings all based around the mythical dragon, so revered in Japanese folklore, decorated with purest gold over a hand chisseled and patinated copper ground. The tang's signature has been inserted within a chisseled recess within the tang, this rare process is called gaku-mei and it also bears the master smiths rare Ichiyo aoi mon engraved on the reverse side. This is a most rarely seen feature on samurai sword blades [gaku-mei] is only normally created for swords that are the most highly prized by the samurai's owner. The original Edo saya is of matching finest quality, superbly decorated with crushed abilone shell over a black ground. A most beautiful museum quality sword with a simply stunning, Edo period, full suite of fittings [koshirae], in very fine shakudo, including the tsuba which shows the dragon swimming in waves, all decorated with carved takebori of pure gold overlaid dragons interwoven through a nanako ground. The tsuka is wrapped in beautiful blue Japanese silk ito [cord wrap]. The hamon bears all the signature traits of Masakiyo's work. The mei is very good and most closely matches his recorded signature examples. Although we feel it has the hallmarks of being his work, especially as the hamon is so typical, there is always the slightest chance it may not be, but, as it bears a gaku-mei, and this is highly technical work, one can conclude this would only be executed in order to save the signature for his correct blade. He was one of the best and foremost Shinto smiths who signed with the Ichiyo aoi mon to the nakago. Mondonosho Masakiyo is said to have been born in 1670 in Sasshu Izumikyo. His common name is said to be Miyahara Seiuemon, and it is said he was also called Kakudayu. He learned the craft of sword making from the Satsuma Han smith Maruta Souemon Masafusa. In the beginning he used the mei of Kiyomutsu and later changed to Masakiyo. In the 1st month of 1721 he was beckoned, along with Ichinora Yasuto (Yasutoshi) of this same kuni, by the 8 th Shogun Yoshimune to come to Edo and make a sword, and as a recognition of his skill, he was granted permission by the Bakufu to inscribe the Ichiyo aoi mon on the nakago, and on his homeward journey he was appointed Mondonosho by the Imperial Court. He passed away in 1730 at the age of 61. He, along with Yasuyo, were the pillars of the Satsuma Shinto, but in contrast to the fact that Yasuyo mostly tempered with suguba in a gentle notare tone, Masakiyo mixed in gunome, togariba, and the like in ko-notare, and tempered with a modified Shizu style of notareba. In the works of his twilight years, daimei by his son Masachik, and his deshi Masamori are frequently seen. There is a small area of tiny pitting by the kissaki, the blade shows expected signs of use for its age
Stunning Clan Mon Tanto Between 600 to 700 Years Old All original, superb quality Edo fittings and mounts [1596-1868]. Gold embellished dragon design, and signed, kodzukatana utility knife. The blade is Nambokochu and is in super polish with a typical thin suguha hamon of the period. Giant ray skin covered hilt with three clan mon menuki covered in pure in gold. Carved buffallo horn kashira and saya mounts. One patron mon will likely be the dominant mon and the others from conjoined allied clans, through marriage, and subserviant retainer families. Mon may have originated as fabric patterns to be used on clothes in order to distinguish individuals or signify membership of a specific clan or organization. But by twelfth century Japan, sources give a clear indication that heraldry had been implemented as a distinguishing feature, especially for use in battle. It is seen on flags, tents, weapons armour, and equipment. Like European heraldry, mon were used on the battlefield and mon served as army standards, even though this usage was not universal and uniquely designed army standards were just as common as mon-based standards ( sashimono, uma-jirushi). Japanese traditional formal attire generally displays the mon of the wearer. Rules regulating the choice and use of mon were somewhat limited, though the selection of mon was generally determined by social customs. It was considered improper to use a mon that was known to be held by someone else, and offensive to use a mon that was held by someone of a high rank. When mon came into conflict, the lower-ranked person sometimes changed their mon to avoid offending their superior. The mon held by the ruling clans of Japan, such as Tokugawa's hollyhock mon and the Emperor's chrysanthemum mon, were legally protected from unauthorized usage. Occasionally, patron clans granted the use of their mon to their retainers as a reward. Similar to the granting of the patron's surnames, this was considered a very high honour. Alternatively, the patron clan may have added elements of its mon to that of its retainer, or choose a completely different mon for them.
Stunning Koto Period Samurai Katana of Wonderful Quality Circa 1530, very fine o-suriage blade, in original Edo polish showing a beautiful grain in the hada. Pure gold decorated fittings all in the form of flowers. All original Edo koshirae, and the saya lacquer is beautiful quality in wonderful condition, the saya a copper sayajiri. The tsuba matches the fittings and is decorated with the same with takebori flowers and a waterdragon crashing through waves. The katana was such a crucial part of a samurai’s life that when a young warrior was on the verge of entering this world, the sword he would use as a protector was brought into the delivery room as if to greet the young one. And, when a weathered, old veteran warrior was on his deathbed, ready to cross over into the White Jade Pavilion of the afterlife, his katana was placed at his side, as if to protect him one last time. Samurai endured for almost 700 years, from 1185 to 1867. Samurai families were considered the elite. They made up only about six percent of the population and included daimyo and the loyal soldiers who fought under them. Samurai means “one who serves." Samurai were expected to be both fierce warriors and lovers of art, a dichotomy summed up by the Japanese concepts of bu (“the way of life of the warrior”) and bun (“the artistic, intellectual and spiritual side of the samurai”). Originally conceived as away of dignifying raw military power, the two concepts were synthesized in feudal Japan and later became a key feature of Japanese culture and morality.The quintessential samurai was Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary early Edo-period swordsman who reportedly killed 60 men before his 30th birthday and was also a painting master. Members of a hierarchal class or caste, samurai were the sons of samurai and they were taught from an early age to unquestionably obey their mother, father and daimyo. When they grew older they were trained by Zen Buddhist masters in meditation and the Zen concepts of impermanence and harmony with nature. The were also taught about painting, calligraphy, nature poetry, mythological literature, flower arranging, and the tea ceremony. As part of their military training, it was said, that samurai were taught to sleep with their right arm underneath them so if they were attacked in the middle of the night and their the left arm was cut off the could still fight with their right arm. Samurai that tossed and turned at night were cured of the habit by having two knives placed on either side of their pillow. It seems somewhat extreme, but not entirely impossible. Samurai have been describes as "the most strictly trained human instruments of war to have existed." They were expected to be proficient in the marital arts of aikido and kendo as well as swordsmanship and archery---the traditional methods of samurai warfare---which were viewed not so much as skills but as art forms that flowed from natural forces that harmonized with nature. An individual didn't become a full-fledged samurai until he wandered around the countryside as begging pilgrim for a couple of years to learn humility. When this was completed they achieved samurai status and receives a salary from his daimyo paid from taxes (usually rice) raised from the local populace. Swords in Japan have long been symbols of power and honour and seen as works of art. Often times swordsmiths were more famous than the people who used them. Overall 35 inches long overall, blade 25 inches long tsuba to tip
Suit Of Samurai Gesoku Armour With Momonari [Peach Shaped] Kabuto Helmet Edo period. Chain mail over silk Kote [arm armour] with plate Tekko [hand armour]. Fully laced and plate Sode [shoulder armour] Fully laced four panels of Haidate [waist armour] Fully laced Kasazuri [thigh Armour], with Suneate. A Stunning Samurai Edo Period Momonari [Peach Shaped] Kabuto Helmet The momonari samurai kabuto (peach-shaped) is inspired by European helmets during the Momoyama period (1575 - 1615) mainly the morion and the cabasset. The Kachushi (Armour craftsmen) made them from two iron plates specifically joined together like the shell of a clam. They where designed specifically to deflect the bullets from the new muskets appearing on the field of battle brought by the Portuguese and Spanish. The momonari kabuto was made well known for its abilities on the battlefield during the campaign of Korea (1592-98) in Kyushu island. Hachi of black lacquer and red lacquer on the underside, small fukigaeshi, with shikoro of 5 lames, early lining with tying cord. Japanese helmets dating from the fifth century (long before the rise of the samurai class) have been found in excavated tombs. Called mabizashi-tsuke kabuto (visor-attached helmet), the style of these kabuto came from China and Korea and they had a pronounced central ridge. This armour is absolutely beautiful. Japanese armour is thought to have evolved from the armour used in ancient China and Korea. Cuirasses and helmets were manufactured in Japan as early as the 4th century.Tanko, worn by foot soldiers and keiko, worn by horsemen were both pre-samurai types of early Japanese cuirass constructed from iron plates connected together by leather thongs. During the Heian period 794 to 1185 the Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or do. Japanese armour makers started to use leather (nerigawa) and lacquer was used to weather proof the armor parts. By the end of the Heian period the Japanese cuirass had arrived at the shape recognized as being distinctly samurai. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) which these cuirasses were now being made from. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours).Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered the peaceful Edo period, samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status but traditional armours were no longer necessary for battles. During the Edo period light weight, portable and secret hidden armours became popular as there was still a need for personal protection. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, peasant revolts required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armour jacket) and armoured sleeves as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing.Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armour) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane). Armour continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji period) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armour happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion. The armour has some affixing loops lacking and will need attention to fully display. Stand for photo display only not included. This armour has areas of worn and distressed lacquer and areas of cloth/material that are perished due to it's great age as would be expected. Helmet shown seperately in the kabuto gallery.
Superb Edo Period 17th Cent. Samurai Armour Gosuko [Not Helmet] 17th century full do, front and back & plates of iron over lacquered [fully laced] and chain mail and steel plate arm defences. Shown with a suitable helmet for display, but the armour is not for sale including this helmet. During the Heian period (794-1185), the Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or do. Japanese armour makers started to use leather (nerigawa) and lacquer was used to weather proof the armor parts. By the end of the Heian period the Japanese cuirass had arrived at the shape recognized as being distinctly samurai. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) which these cuirasses were now being made from. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries-old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours). Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. Please note the helmet is not with the armour. The silk lacing on the breast and back plate is 400 years old and very frayed throughout.
The Lanes Armoury Probably The Largest Militaria Webstore in The World Happy New Year To All Our Clients and Regular Readers. Thank you all for your loyal and most valued custom through 2016, and we wish you a Healthy and Prosperous New Year. This website contains over 15,500 full page colour photographs, with fully descriptive and historical text for each and every original item, for your delectation and perusal. A selection second to none and as varied as one can imagine. Original pieces of history from ancient Persia to Medieval Japan. Covering all of the British, European and worldwide eras of conflict from the past 3000 years, with weaponry, armour, militaria and books from the bronze age to WW2. Certificates of Authenticity supplied with every purchase.
The Lanes Armoury The Largest Online Militaria Website in the World Last month we were approached by a most historically enthusiastic young person studying at Sussex University who asked if they could research through our archive to complete a 'paper' based on us as one of the oldest remaining Sussex family business's. It resulted in some remarkable statistics, that we thought we would share with our regulars, for those that have interest. The research only included the types of items that we regularly buy, sell and export today, with general antiques, furniture, porcelain, clocks, silver and works of art excluded, as we haven't been devoted to that side of the trade since selling our antique export shipping companies in 1992. In 100 years of shop keeping in Brighton, 78 of them pre-internet, apparently, we have likely sold over 200,000 books, 135,000 medals & badges, over 95,000 worldwide swords, knives and bayonets, over 32,000 Japanese samurai swords, over 28,500 helmets of all nations, 27,000 pistols and muskets of all nations, at least 2450 suits of armour, European, British or Japanese, and over 1,500 cannon. Believe it or not these are conservative figures and the actual figure could be much higher. So enjoy our website and remember every thing you see is available and for sale, we never keep our webstore cosmetically inflated with past 'sold' items. Around 2,000 to 3,000 people visit us here every single day, winter and summer, rain or shine.
Very Fine Collection of Antique Samurai Swords Arrive. Up To 700 Years Old Around twenty original ancient samurai swords have arrived, part of a six figure collection recently acquired, and we shall be adding them to this site over the next couple of months or so. Almost all are ancient, Koto period and over 500 years old. Including a wonderful ubu daimyo's tachi by Sadanori from 1394 Nanboku-cho Muramachi era. A sword that would have almost certainly have seen combat in the Onin War. ( Onin no Ran) was a civil war that lasted from 1467 to 1477, during the Muromachi period in Japan. Onin refers to the Japanese era during which the war was fought. A dispute between Hosokawa Katsumoto and Yamana Sozen escalated into a nationwide war involving the Ashikaga shogunate and a number of daimyo in many regions of Japan. The war initiated the Sengoku period, "the Warring States period". This period was a long, drawn-out struggle for domination by individual daimyo, resulting in a mass power-struggle between the various houses to dominate the whole of Japan. During this and other wars of the time, kuni ikki, or provincial uprisings, took place as locally powerful warriors sought independence from the shugo-daimyo. The deputies of the shugo-daimyo, living in the provinces, seized the opportunity to strengthen their position. At the end of the fifteenth century, those shugo-daimyo who succeeded remained in power. Those who had failed to exert control over their deputies fell from power and were replaced by a new class, the sengoku-daimyo, who arose from the ranks of the shugodai and ji-samurai. The daimyo were powerful Japanese feudal lords who, until their decline in the early Meiji period, ruled most of Japan from their vast, hereditary land holdings. In the term, dai means "large", and myo stands for myoden, meaning private land. Subordinate to the shogun, and nominally to the Emperor and the kuge, daimyo were powerful feudal rulers from the 10th century to the middle 19th century in Japan. From the Shugo of the Muromachi period through the Sengoku to the daimyo of the Edo period, the rank had a long and varied history. The backgrounds of daimyo also varied considerably; while some daimyo clans, notably the Mori, Shimazu and Hosokawa, were cadet branches of the Imperial family or were descended from the kuge, other daimyo were promoted from the ranks of the samurai, notably during the Edo period. The term daimyo also sometimes refers to the leading figures of such clans, also called "Lord". It was usually, though not exclusively, from these warlords that a shogun arose or a regent was chosen. Daimyo often hired samurai to guard their land and they paid the samurai in land or food as relatively few could afford to pay samurai in money.
Very Long Ancient Koto Samurai Odachi Great Sword, 14th Century Genko War An Odachi (large/great sword) also known as a nodachi, [field sword]. It was a type of very long traditionally made Japanese sword, used by the samurai class of ancient feudal Japan. The Chinese equivalent and 'cousin' for this type of sword in terms of weight and length is the miao dao, and the Western battlefield equivalent (though less similar) is the longsword or claymore. Odachi swordplay styles differed from that of other Japanese swords, focusing on downward cuts.As battlefield weapons, Odachi were too long for samurai to carry on their waists like normal swords. There were two methods in which they could be carried: One was to carry it on one's back. However, this was seen as impractical as it was impossible for the wielder to draw it quickly. The other method was simply to carry the sheathed Odachi by hand. The trend during the Muromachi era was for the samurai carrying the Odachi to have a follower to help draw it. One possible use of Odachi is as large anti-cavalry weapons, to strike down the horse as it approaches. Alternatively, it could be used as a cavalry-on-cavalry weapon, with the long reach, increased weight and slashing area of the blade offering some advantages over spears, lances and smaller swords. Apart from the blade polish this sword has been untouched for likely 250 years. Almost 700 years old. Double hi to the very long blade, o-sukashi Koto period iron tsuba and fushi kashira superbly decorated with takebori insects. The Genko War (1331–1333) also known as the Genko Incident was a civil war in Japan which marked the fall of the Kamakura shogunate and end of the power of the Hojo clan. The war thus preceded the Nanboku-cho period and the rise of the Ashikaga shogunate. Genko is the name of the Japanese era corresponding to the period 1331–1334. Throughout much of the Kamakura period, the shogunate was controlled by the Hojo clan, whose members held the title of shikken (regent for the shogun), and passed it on within the clan. The Emperor was little more than a figurehead, holding no real administrative power. In 1331, Emperor Go-Daigo plotted to seize power and overthrow the shogunate in Kamakura. However, he was betrayed by a trusted adviser Fujiwara Sadafusa. The Emperor fled Kyoto with the Sacred Treasures and sought refuge in a secluded monastery overlooking the Kizu River, called Kasagi. The monastery was attacked by Bakufu troops in the Siege of Kasagi. The emperor managed to escape, but only temporarily, and was subsequently banished to the Oki Islands. The shogunate then enthroned Emperor Kgon. The Emperor's son Prince Morinaga continued to fight, leading his father's supporters alongside Kusunoki Masashige. Emperor Go-Daigo escaped Oki in the spring of 1333, two years after his exile, with the help of Nawa Nagatoshi and his family, raising an army at Funagami Mountain in Hoki Province Meanwhile, Ashikaga Takauji, the chief general of the Hojo family, turned against the Hojo and fought for the Emperor in the hopes of being named shogun. Takauji entered Kyoto on 19 June and Go-Daigo entered the Palace at the end of July 1333. Simultaneously, Nitta Yoshisada led his army on a campaign through Kozuke and Musashi provinces culminating in the siege of Kamakura, setting fire to the city, and destroying the Kamakura shogunate Blade length tsuba to tip 31 inches overall length sword 41 inches and overall 41.5 inches in saya. To qualify as an Odachi, the sword in question would have a blade length of around 3 shaku (90.9 centimetres (35.8 in]; however, as with most terms in Japanese sword arts, there is no exact definition of the size of an Odachi. Apart from the blade polish this sword has been untouched for likely 250 years. Almost 700 years old. Double hi to the very long blade, o-sukashi Koto period iron tsuba and fushi kashira superbly decorated with takebori insects. The Genko War (1331–1333) also known as the Genko Incident was a civil war in Japan which marked the fall of the Kamakura shogunate and end of the power of the Hojo clan. The war thus preceded the Nanboku-cho period and the rise of the Ashikaga shogunate. Genko is the name of the Japanese era corresponding to the period 1331–1334. Throughout much of the Kamakura period, the shogunate was controlled by the Hojo clan, whose members held the title of shikken (regent for the shogun), and passed it on within the clan. The Emperor was little more than a figurehead, holding no real administrative power. In 1331, Emperor Go-Daigo plotted to seize power and overthrow the shogunate in Kamakura. However, he was betrayed by a trusted adviser Fujiwara Sadafusa. The Emperor fled Kyoto with the Sacred Treasures and sought refuge in a secluded monastery overlooking the Kizu River, called Kasagi. The monastery was attacked by Bakufu troops in the Siege of Kasagi. The emperor managed to escape, but only temporarily, and was subsequently banished to the Oki Islands. The shogunate then enthroned Emperor Kgon. The Emperor's son Prince Morinaga continued to fight, leading his father's supporters alongside Kusunoki Masashige. Emperor Go-Daigo escaped Oki in the spring of 1333, two years after his exile, with the help of Nawa Nagatoshi and his family, raising an army at Funagami Mountain in Hoki Province Meanwhile, Ashikaga Takauji, the chief general of the Hojo family, turned against the Hojo and fought for the Emperor in the hopes of being named shogun. Takauji entered Kyoto on 19 June and Go-Daigo entered the Palace at the end of July 1333. Simultaneously, Nitta Yoshisada led his army on a campaign through Kozuke and Musashi provinces culminating in the siege of Kamakura, setting fire to the city, and destroying the Kamakura shogunate Blade length tsuba to tip 31 inches overall length sword 41 inches and overall 41.5 inches in saya. Over the centuries this sword was shortened at the tang [by official Japanese edict] by around 5 inches, thus you can see the five mekugi ana in the nakago for the blade's remounting. The Shogunal government set a law which prohibited holding swords above a set length (in 1617, 1626, and 1645)
We Offer One of The Largest Selections Of Original Samurai Arms in Europe Over the past 40 years I have personally supervised our company's determination to provide the most interesting, educational, yet not too intimidating, gallery of original Japanese Samurai weapons, helmets, sword fittings, polearms, muskets and armour for sale. Principally concentrating on a combination of age, beauty, quality and history. Thanks to an extensive contact base [built up over the past 80 years or more] that stretches across the whole world, including collectors [both large and small], curators, academics and consultants, we have been very fortunate, that this effort has rewarded us with the ability to offer, what we believe to be, the most comprehensive selection available in Europe. We have always loved the history of the Samurai and their weaponry, and we have long admired and envied their skill at creating the unparalleled beauty of samurai swords. Our Japanese weapons vary in age up to 700 years old, and are frequently some of the finest examples of specialist workmanship ever achieved by mankind. We have tried to include, within the description of most items, a brief history lesson [for those that have interest, and may wish to know] that will describe the eras, areas and circumstances that these items were used in. We have tried our utmost to be informative and interesting without being too academic in order to keep the details vibrant, fascinating yet not too complex. Although we would never arrogantly credit ourselves to be all-knowing experts on Japanese historical Nihonto, for, quite simply, some of the most learned scholars, studying the art of nihonto all of their lives, often admit to only scratching the surface of the knowledge to be learnt in this extraordinary field. Please enjoy, with our compliments, our Japanese Gallery. It has been decades in the creation, and we intend it to remain interesting and informative, hopefully, for decades to come. Mark Hawkins [Partner].
Wonderful High Grade Samurai Koto Tanto By Kanesada Of Takeda Shingen Clan Probably for a high ranking retainer in service of the great samurai commander of legend Takeda Shingen. Armour piercing koto blade circa 1530, with superb original Edo period fittings 'koshirae] including silver copper alloy mounts and a gilt dragon saya ornament. Hammered gold over copper alloy oval tsuba, and silver clan mon menuki within the tsuka [hilt wrap] of the four interlocking diamonds of the Takeda clan. The saya is decorated in superb cinnabar lacquer, the favoured colour and symbol of Takeda Shingen [his armour was entirely based on this colour] and the tsuka wrapped in black silk over Takeda kamon on giant rayskin. In 1548, Shingen defeated Ogasawara Nagatoki in the Battle of Shiojiritoge and then took Fukashi in 1550. After conquering Shinano, Shingen faced another rival, Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo. The feud between them became legendary, and they faced each other on the battlefield five times in the Battles of Kawanakajima. These battles were generally confined to controlled skirmishes, neither daimyo willing to devote himself entirely to a single all-out attempt. The conflict between the two that had the fiercest fighting, and might have decided victory or defeat for one side or the other, was the fourth battle, during which the famous tale arose of Uesugi Kenshin's forces clearing a path through the Takeda troops and Kenshin engaging Shingen in single combat. The tale has Kenshin attacking Shingen with his sword while Shingen defends with his iron war fan or tessen. Both lords lost many men in this fight, and Shingen in particular lost two of his main generals, Yamamoto Kansuke and his younger brother Takeda Nobushige. In 1563, allied with Hojo Ujiyasu, he captured Matsuyama Castle in Musashi Province. Takeda Shingen then took Kuragano in 1565 and Minowa Castle. He then moved against the Hojo by attacking Hachigata Castle then engaged in the Siege of Odawara (1569). He successfully withdrew after Hojo Ujiteru and Hojo Ujikuni failed to stop him in the Battle of Mimasetoge.Shingen and Tokugawa Ieyasu "came to terms" and occupied the "former Imagawa territory." They both fought against Yoshimoto's heir, Imagawa Ujizane. After defeating the intervention forces commanded by Hojo Ujimass of Sagami, Shingen finally secured the Suruga, formerly base of the prestigious Imagawa clan, as a Takeda asset in 1569. Upon securing Takeda control over Suruga, northern Shinano, and western Kozuke, Shingen moved to challenge the Oda-Tokugawa alliance, leading a formidable force of over 30,000 into the latter's territories in Totomi, Mikawa, and Mino in 1572.
Wonderful Koto Era, Shibui Battle-Sword Katana, Signed Masakuni Circa 1500 Five hundred years old with all original Edo fittings, very fine quality carved shakudo mounts and a fine o-sukashi Koto era tsuba. The blade has a most fine and delicate irregular gunome hamon in beautiful polish. It has gilt menuki under the Edo silk wrap. The blade is signed on the nakago as usual but it ius very difficult to read due to it's great age. Original lacquer Edo saya. "Shibui" is a Japanese sword term translating to 'quiet'. The idea is that the sword is dark, subtle and reserved and made perfect for all forms of combat without being over decorative, in order not to overtly attract attention, especially at night. The first use of "katana" as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi is found in the 12th century. These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower ranking warriors. The evolution of the tachi into the katana seems to have started during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the "katana" signature were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the signature facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner. However, it is thought by many, that as many as 70% of katana made were never signed at all. Blade 28 inches long tsuba to tip, Overall 39 inches long in saya. Some old rayskin losses under the ito.
Wonderful Moon Phase Tachi, Signed Bizen no kami Minamoto Sukekuni,1650 Beautifully polished blade. Incredible lacquer saya that is also original Edo period, fully decorated with gold hiramaki-e lacquer depicting creatures of the Asian lunar Zodiac. The Rat, Ox, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog. Over a part nishiji gold lacquer and crushed coloured abilone ground. The tachi fittings are in patinated copper and the tachi tsuba is beautfully line engraved with a trench border of flame patterns and four ken. The tsuka hilt wrap is complimentary gold Japanese silk over two menuki of two members of the Zodiac, the Tiger and the Dragon in gold. The blade is in beautiful polish showing a fine hamon with areas of notare undulation. The Asian zodiac is not based on constellations, as is the Western (Greek/Roman) zodiac. The Asian calendar is based on the twelve yearly phases of the moon, known as the twelve-month lunar year (each month lasting between 28 to 31 days). The Western (Greek/Roman) calendar is based on the annual path of the sun through twelve star constellations, known as the solar year. East Asia’s calendar is also based on the Twenty-Eight Constellations or 28 Moon Lodges, which added greater precision. The twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac are well-known symbols associated with forecasting people's futures and determining their character. By the 4th century BC, they were well established in Chinese thought. The earliest depictions appear in ceiling paintings from a tomb dated 533 BC. During the Tang dynasty, pottery representations of these symbols were placed in tombs, reflecting the court's fascination with divination and astrology.Blade engraved Bizen no kami Minamoto Sukekuni. Picture in the gallery ; Scroll, Twelve Zodiac Animals, by Nagasawa Rosetsu. Tachi are the Samurai swords not only worn in combat but worn on Court occasions by the Daimyo Lords of Japan. They are distinguished by the fact that they are worn with the cutting edge down, from one or two hangers in the centre of the saya. Katana are slid through the belt or Obi, and thus do not have these one or two hangers. Traditionally in the Edo era only Daimyo are allowed to wear Tachi and there were only about 50 Daimyo in any one period in all Japan. In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors [daimyo] of what became the ruling class would wear their swords tachi mounted. This Tachi although mounted in the Edo period fittings, was made before the Edo period. The Edo started with the Tokugawa, who ruled Japan for around 460 years and it was founded after the battle of Sekigahara in 1598. The Tokugawa unified Japan and created a lasting dynasty of military rulers like none that had been before. 40 inches long approx overall in saya.