Hi, I'd like to ask you for your help....I found a nihonto and got a lot of feedback (see link & text below....) The people I got the feedback from are mainly unsure about the blade and one person commented it might be a KANABO - could you please give me your thoughts on it? http://militaria.co.za/nihontomessageboard/viewtopic.php?t=1376
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Most agree on the fittings side of things, but some refer to the blade as Koto some as Shinto......Please let me know your thoughts concerning the points below. FITTINGS:The sword is in Higo Handachi koshirae; Edo period (1600-1876) a style of fittings used in the Higo Province of Japan, and in a part 'ceremonial style' that is usually worn blade up through the sash at the waist, but still retaining the ceremonial tachi look' of a slung sword worn at court. Han-dachi Koshirae - The fittings are a style called Handachi (so-called "handachi" mountings; this is a half way between an katana (civilian mount) and tachi (worn with armor). All of the fittings including the guard (tsuba) are matching and en suite. The tsuba is later "Nishigaki" Higo work. Nice. Condition is not so great- but still a diamond in the rough. Nishigaki is one of the major sub schools of Higo fittings. There are many many Higo fittings, but Nishigaki Higo is better than average Higo work.. Higo is a province on the southern island of Kyushu where this style was popularized. The gold onlay work on top of the iron base metal is called "Higo Zogan" and is a style still practiced in that region to this day in the manufacture of various vases, desk top boxes, etc. The menuki is a kiri mon (a heraldic badge related to the imperial household dating back to the kamakura period but used throughout history.) I once owned a gimei kagemitsu that had similar menuki The menuki theme is paulownia. Paulownia is a type of tree/plant. The wood is used to make many antique chests. The paulownia flower emblem is used by the Imperial family, although it was used many people in late Edo period. I thought that was more of an Imperial symbol. But in late Edo, the symbol got used by many people of all different samurai levels. Your koshirae probably c. 1800s.
The loops on the saya (scabbard) are of an uncommon design meant to have dual utility. In the postition they are in the picture (together at the central seam) the sword is meant to be worn edge up. If one is separated and slid down the saya slightly, then it provides the ability to wear the sword "slung" edge down in tachi fashion. It is speculated that this is a rare equipment provision for those occasionally riding horseback to accommodate continued wear of their sword without changing to an alternate style of mountings.. The fittings are of some interest, and appear to be a matching set or at least a matching style, but they're certainly newer than the blade. The inscription on the tsuka or saya is a makers signature. The inscription is done in grass script, and this is very hard to read. Like messy handwriting. The left side I can't read, the right side has some numbers in it... 3 something, 2 something, 20. Menuki mon (different opinion to the above: The menuki mon (emblem on the stud in the middle of the handle) shows the acorn - which was the Tokugawa mon (crest). menuki is the mon of the Takatora family. TANG: Shortened: Most likely the lower hole was the original hole before shortening. That would say that it was circa 31-32" originally (very long for a Kanbun Shinto Katana), or it was a secondary peg hole (mekugi-ana) for added strength when used for (test-)cutting. Given the length and that such long blades are unusual in Kanbun era, that's definitely a possibility. The tang suggest that the blade length was shortened from the original length. The slant file mark on the tang and the hole in the area is original. The right angle file mark and the hole in it is a newly shaped tang and new hole. And cut the end of the tang off. The work was done more than hundred years ago. Please study the hamon, is it running into the tang? If so, the blade must be shortened in the past. It would appear to be earlier than 1600.Not Shortened:The end of the tang appears to have a slight curve to it, which might say it wasn't shortened, but was made that way. Please study the hamon, is it running into the tang? If not, the blade might have not been shortened in the past. BLADE: The end of the tang appears to have a slight curve to it, which might say it wasn't shortened, but was made that way. The temper line "idari togari (irregular pointed). Polish is ok; I'd say in 80% polish from the photos (very minor tip chip, some minor battle scars, scuffing and stains, etc). KOTO: The pointing toward Kanbun shinto prodded my memory and I have to disagree a little. There is not enough taper for Kambun Shinto. In other words the blade width at the yokote (where the tip begins) is almost as wide as the blade at the Machi (where the handle begins. There are two possibilites other than shinshinto (who made all kinds of swords--what do you want and they will make it). The most likely is that it is a Kanabo smith. The Kanabo group is not too well thought of since they didn't make beautiful swords only functional swords--they were sharp and could cut you real good. They also tended to specialize in pole arms: naginata and yari blades. The bulk of their output was in polearms. They worked in the Nara area and are considered to be a late Yamato-den school. Their hada tends toward masumi (straight grain) mixed with Itame-hada (wood grain). They worked in the 1500s/ Their katana tended to be real straight with little tapering. This is one of the tell-tale signs to judge between Kambun Shinto and a Suo-koto Kanabo. The other possibility, though the quality is not visible in your photos, is that it is a much earlier and longer blade that has been cut down so severly that most of the curvature is gone. This you should hope for, but don't bet the house on it. I think it well might be a Kanabo that was shortened.I think it is a koto blade the sword looks older then Shinto. "KOTO - Old Sword Period (prior to about 1596) the length of your blade at 28" and o'suriage make it an unusual length for a shinto piece. The tapering and small kissaki also looks koto. The turnback in the temperline along the mune can be seen in Koto (pre. 1600s) blades.It is obviously osuriage - but is the jigane obove the shinogi the same as below. Thsi is another kantei point to look for as to age. If it is then the sword is probably koto. If not and it is masame then most likely shinto. but I own a Yoshi masa kamakura koto piece which has a wide active hamon and wide boshi
I should say this sword is probably (the first mekugi ana is the original one) well over 80 cm. The kissaki is not a big one as usually is a Nambokucho kissaki (I have 2 Nambokucho blades with kissaki over 4 cm for one and 5 for the other).
Unless it is a Utsushi blade (later copy of an old blade), I should say it is a Nambokucho nihonto The Nanboku-cho (“ì–k’©, lit. "North and South courts") spanning from 1336 to 1392. The hamon looks wide and bright which would indicate shinto but I own a Yoshi masa kamakura koto piece which has a wide active hamon and wide boshi. Sometimes they were well taken care of and the hamon is just . plain wide. i.e. ichimonji and some Soshu. SHINTO: because of the big nie/hamon The hamon looks wide and bright which would indicate shinto. And the boshi/turnback looks very osaka shinto/yasutsugu (3xopinion) That would say that it was circa 31-32" originally (very long for a Kambun/Kanbun Shinto Katana), or it was a secondary peg hole (mekugi-ana) for added strength when used for (test-) cutting. Given the length and that such long blades are unusual in Kanbun era, that's definitely a possibility. shape of blade and the type of turnback make me think almost definitely Kambun 1660.
Low curvature. Especially with short point suggests Kanbun Shinto. My best guess (given lack of change of rust colour/patina on the tang where it was cut down) would be a long kanbun shinto (circa 1660) katana that was slightly shortened, or maybe an older tachi that was shortened a lot (by the distance between the two peg holes) in the 1600/1700's. The sword blade looks to me to be from the mid 16th century, specifically in a period called "kanbun" (about 1661), and has been shortened from the tang end approximately four to five inches. This is not altogether uncommon, and any signature it may have had was likely lost during that event. A cursory lob of my opinion is that it may be from the Echizen Yasutsugu school as it has some characteristics of this school
Thanks again! Regards, Jock