Ryujin Swords

Mumei wakizashi attributed to Echizen Seki-den in koshirae with illustrated saya; NBTHK Hozon papers for both koshirae and blade



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Blade

Period: Edo, probably 18th century.

Mei: Mumei. Attributed to the Echizen Seki school by the NBTHK

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

Overall length: 21.65 inches (550.00 mm).

Nagasa: 16.73 inches (425.00 mm).

Nakago: Ubu, 4.92 inches (125.00 mm). One mekugi-ana, kiri yasurime, kiri nakago-jiri.

Kissaki: Ko-kissaki, 1.06 inches (26.80 mm).

Moto-haba: 0.83 inches (21.20 mm). Saki-haba: 0.82 inches (20.80 mm). Moto-gasane: 0.25 inches (6.30 mm). Saki-gasane: 0.21 inches (5.30 mm).

Sori: 0.45 inches (11.40 mm).

Hamon: A flamboyant and highly irregular choji with irregular notare.

Hada: Difficult to tell, but looks like itame.

Blade condition: In very good condition. No fatal flaws. In fact it appears to be lacking flaws.

Mounts:

The mounts are original to this sword and have been collectively awarded Hozon origami by the NBTHK. The saya is illustrated in gold maki-e on black lacquer with a painting of pine, bamboo and Daikoku (the Japanese god of farmers, provider of food, and god of wealth). It is a spectacular example of urushi work. The only other antique saya that I have seen embellished with a painting was in an illustration of a sword in a museum collection. They are extremely uncommon.

The tsuka is bound in moro-hineri hishi-maki. The habaki is made of gold. The rice ear sukashi tsuba is signed Choshu Ju Masasada. Masasada was a member of the Kawachi school living in Choshu-kuni; he died in 1800. Tsuba by Masasada go for at least $375 (about £230 at the current exchange rate).

The fuchi-kashira are of Chinese people and are unsigned. The menuki are baskets of flowers, whilst the kozuka shows a tree peony and lion. The kozuka blade is also signed. Unfortunately the mei is illegible.

Comments:

This sword has been in a private collection for some time, and is now being sold on commission.

Fukui, the centre of Echizen province, started to become prosperous after one of Nobunaga’s retainers, Shibata Katsuie, built a castle there. The end of the Sengoku-jidai saw the region, now under the Matsudaira (a branch of the Tokugawa family) become very prosperous and offer opportunities for patronage, As a result many smiths moved to Echizen from Omi, Yamashiro, Mino and other areas.

The Echizen Seki school was one of the two principal schools of swordmaking in Echizen, the other being the Yasutsugu, who were originally from Omi province. The Echizen Seki were created by smiths moving from Seki to Echizen, and were particularly active 1658-1680. Their work reflects the Shinto tokuden traditions that were then fashionable, as well as the original Mino tradition.

This sword was, I suspect, made to the order of an extremely wealthy merchant of the sort that likes to display his wealth, and for whom money is no object. Extremely wealthy merchants were not in short supply in Edo Echizen, and a wealthy grain merchant might well have cause to thank Daikoku for his fortune. The saya illustration in particular is the work of a master; illustrated saya are very rare. Having a full set of late 18th century koshirae with the sword that they were made for is also rare. To have the two together is like finding hen's teeth. This is a potential museum piece.

£8,000. Free shipping, bag included. Currency conversion.



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