10th May 2009
Type: Shinto katana
Nagasa: 70.1 cm Moto-haba: 2.8 cm Saki-haba: 2.1 cm
Sugata: Shinogi-zukuri with shallow but high koshi-zori, low iori-mune and extended chu-kissaki.
Jihada: Itame-gokuro, becoming an undulating masame-hada in the monouchi area.
Hamon: Suguha in nie-deki, quite a wide nioi-guchi and abundant sunagashi. Boshi is yakizume with hakikake.
Nakago: Ubu with one mekugi-ana and slim overall shape, mumei, yoko-yasurime, ha-agarai katayamagata jiri.
Shinto Katana: Mumei but attributed (NTHK) to Bungo Fujiwara Yukinaga
This sword has a good length with a noticeably shallow sori
that somewhat resembles the Kanbun-shinto sugata, but the extended chu-kissaki
is inconsistent with this. The masame (straight grain) in the monouchi area
would indicate Yamato-den influence which is supported by the yakizume-boshi (no
kaeri or turn-back) and the extensive hakikake or brush strokes visible here.
The nie-deki hamon in suguha has a passing resemblance to that produced in Hizen
province but lacks the order and tidiness of the nie seen there (some swords
from Bungo province do indeed resemble Hizen-to and it is believed that there
was considerable exchange between the two provinces).
The blade was submitted to the 2008 shinsa held in London, England by the NTHK and was attributed to Bungo Fujiwara Yukinaga by the panel. This swordsmith is considered as representative of Bungo province swordsmiths from the Shinto period, to the extent that his working style is used to illustrate their style in Nihonto Koza (Shinto). Swordmaking in Bungo province in Kyushu dates back to at least the early Kamakura period, the most renowned smith being Bungo Yukihira who may have been a Gobankaji or one of the swordsmiths that attended and taught the retired emperor Gotoba.
As we progress through the Muromachi period, there were many Bungo swordsmiths but the quality of their workmanship declined and this continued into the Shinto period where no swordsmiths of any note are to be found. In the early days there were two families or clans with the old clan names of Taira and Fujiwara. As they both were both at the place named Takada, they were called the Taira Takada and Fujiwara Takada respectively. However by the Shinto period, they had come together and the Taira name is no longer seen but the Fujiwara name continued and was usually included in all signatures. Shinto swords are known, therefore, as Fujiwara Takada.
The shallow sori of this sword, is considered a characteristic of the group, but the jihada is more predominant than usual. Suguha hamon in nie deki are not uncommon in shinto Bungo swords and boshi with hakikake are encountered but reasonably rare. Given these, it may be said that this sword has a number of idiosyncratic features that are somewhat more interesting than the average Fujiwara Takada blade, in spite of the lack of signature on the nakago. The rather large kissaki helps give the impression of sharpness and is consistent with Bungo swords being considered practical but lacking in artistic merit. Fujishiro states in Shinto Jiten that Yukinaga was active around the Manji period (1658) and rates him as Chu-saku and ryowazamono (very sharp). He further states that, as with this sword, his swords are mostly in "ordinary" suguha. His signatures were Fujiwara Yukinaga and Hosho Takada ju Fujiwara Yukinaga.
The round iron tsuba, of an abstract sukashi design, is
signed SHOAMI SHIGENOBU on the seppa-dai. Shigenobu was part of the Aizu Shoami
group of tsuba makers who were not known for their good work because, it has
been said, they lacked the support of the local daimyo and were forced to work
without patronage. In the latter half of the 19th century they made many copies
of famous makers for the foreign tourists at Yokohama.
10th May 2009