Ryujin Swords

Wakizashi by the Bungo Takeda school


Click on any picture for more detail.

Blade:

Period: Shinto.

Mei: The mei has been truncated by shortening and reads "Fujiwara . . ."

Sugata: Shinogi-zukuri, tori-zori, iori-mune.

Overall length: 20.94 inches (532.00 mm)

Nagasa: 15.91 inches (404.00 cm) long.

Nakago: Narrow, kaku-mune, suriage, 5.04 inches (128.00 mm), three mekugi-ana. The yasurime are kiri.

Kissaki: Chu-kissaki, 1.27 inches (32.27 mm). The boshi is maru. I can't see if there is kaeri or not, but this was a typical feature of the school's boshi

Moto-haba: 1.08 inches (27.41 mm). Moto-gasane: 0.29 inches (7.39 mm). Saki-haba: 0.78 inches (19.87 mm). Saki-gasane: 0.21 inches (5.53 mm).

Sori: 0.25 inches (6.30 mm)

Hamon: Nioi-deki suguha hamon with some gunome. Very sparing nie.

Hada: Coarse mokume.

Blade condition:

In need of a polish; scuffs, scratches, some surface erosion, one very small chip, but much better looking than x10 macro photographs would imply. A sound sword; no bends, no hagire, no ware and looks to be plenty of meat still on the blade. It would be a very attractive blade once polished, and worth papering; that would pin it down to the individual smith.

Mounts:

The saya, which has slots for a kogai and a ko-gatana, is lacquered in black kuro ishime nuri. The kogai is missing. The copper kozuka handle depicts a bunch of people and an individual carrying a tessen. The blade is signed, but the mei is illegible. The kashira is horn.

Comments:

This sword is from the Bungo (Hoshu) Takeda school, founded by Tomoyuki in the Nanbokucho period. Members of this school are also known as Fuijwara Takada because they used Fujiwara as a family name in their signatures.

The school was active from Koto times right through to Shinto, with relatively few smiths working in Shinshinto times. During the Shinto period, swordsmiths of this school gained a reputation for making good practical swords that has a reputation for both sturdiness and excellent cutting ability. They seem to have worked to improve their swords, since they frequently adapted the best ideas in contemporary swordsmithing to their work. As a result, their swords were greatly sought after by samurai. However, Bungo Takeda swords generally have few hataraki within the hamon and are not, therefore, highly esteemed by those collectors who concentrate solely on the sword as art. Indeed, many “sword experts” would dismiss Bungo Takeda swords as ‘not of great quality” because they weren’t made primarily as art. Needless to say the samurai would not have agreed with the latter’s position, and might have suggested that Bungo Takeda swords were better than many of the contemporary swords that are now considered to be “better” because they are more “artistic”.

I would have to agree with the samurai; function is far too divorced form in some collectors’ minds. However collectors are not generally knowledgeable about metallurgy, smithing or practical sword skills, so I should explain further. Grain growth is needed to make a visible hamon; the coarser the grain grows, the more it weakens the sword. On the other hand, a coarser grain may result in pretty features such as visibly obvious crystalline structures in the hamon, whilst such features may be invisible if the grain is much finer. If the grain is really fine, the hamon itself may be invisible to the eye, but the blade is stronger; this happens with some modern alloy steels.

It is a controversial thought, but the strength, durability and cutting ability of the Bungo Takeda swords may be precisely due to their percieved lack of artistry, which in turn demonstrates a different artistry; being able to accurately control the temperature and grain growth during the making of the sword, without the benefit of modern instrumentation.

This wakizashi is fairly typical of the school. Firstly, the sori is shallow; some Bungo Takeda school swords are nearly flat. It has been suggested that this was due to Japanese exposure to the thrust used in European fencing techniques transmitted by traders at Nagasaki.

The kasane is thick, tapering to the relatively small chu-kissaki. This is characteristic of the school. Whilst not obviously thick for a wakizashi, I have seen katana that were thinner. Similarly the hada is a tight and coarse mokume, whilst the hamon is largely suguha with some gunome. Suguha, gunome, ko-midare and o-notare are the most common hamons used by this school .

£2,500. Free shipping, bag included. Currency conversion.


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