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Directory: Popular Collectibles: Militaria: Edged Weapons: Pre 1700: Item # 1254284

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A hirazukuri wakizashi blade in aikuchi mounts: the cutting edge length is 14 inches, greater than the 1 shaku length (traditional, 11.93 inches; historical, 13.93) that is the customary distinction between tanto blades and wakizashi blades. Overall, with tang, the blade measures 19 1/8 inches. The blade itself is a treasure. Signed “Soshu ju Tsunahiro,” it is the epitome of a fine early Soshu School blade. Fred Weissburg, in his study titled “Sandai Soshu Tsunahiro,” stated that around 1532 the Tsunahiro line was established by the patriarch of the Yamamura line of swordsmiths, who were descendants of Masamune. Weissburg focused his attention on the third generation Tsunahiro, family name Yamamura Soumonojo, who worked primarily for the Lord of the Tsugaru Han in Kamakura. He made three hundred daisho for this Daimyo, and then returned home to Sagami province in 1606 (where he died in 1632 at the age of 91!). Specifically, this smith is noted for “…jigane (sword steel) is hard and does not differ significantly from the Soshu tradition of earlier periods.” The hada [grain] is “itame [wood grained] mixed with mokume hada [burl wood].” This smith worked in the hitatsura style of hamon (full temper line), and generally a lot of nie will not be found and when it is (as here), it tends to be detached and uneven. The “hitatsura” style is significant here, as Yumoto attributes that style only to Soshi and Mino smiths during the Muromachi period, the period in which this smith’s teacher/father lived and worked. Moreover, Weissburg notes, the boshi (kissaki temper line) on this smith’s blades tend to be midare-komi (short return) with a long kaeri (turn back). All of the aforementioned characteristcs are present in this Tsunahiro blade. Whether this blade was made by this 3rd generation smith, or the 4th or 5th (through 1681), the fact remains that its quality is “Jo saku,” a “superior” rating for all these generations in the Nihonto index. An aikuchi is a blade without a guard richly decorated and used by men of rank (in Edo times). Among older men, those who lived in religious semi-retirement, and by those rewarded with titles, it was accepted as a symbol: not wishing to appear unarmed, they wore it as a purely social gesture. The best hilt/scabbard decoration was partly on each so that the two appeared as one when the knife was sheathed, as here: the hilt is covered in pink-tinted rayskin that is then gilded (gilding is spare on the hilt, but much more remains on the scabbard portion . . . particularly under the kuzuka) and extends just beyond the cord ring on the upper portion of the scabbard, which is finely finished in black lacquer. The whole is equipped with kozuka and menuki mountings of gold, silver, copper, shakudo and shibuichi alloys. The habaki is solid silver, and the signed kozuka is composed of shakudo nanako on copper. More photos available upon request.

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