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Rare Tachi blade by “Suishinshi Masatsugu”
Horimono (engraving) by Yoshirane
One of Japan’s finest engravers
Length: 2 shaku, 1 sun, 7.5 bu
Heisei 5 Sept 26th 1993
Nihon Token Hozon Kai
“SUISHINSHI MASATSUGU” KATANA
WITH HORIMONO BY “YOSHITANE”!
“SUISHINSHI MASATSUGU”, WAS BORN OF THE “KAWABE” SAMURAI FAMILY ,IN APPROXIMATELY 1813 AD., AND GIVEN THE BIRTH NAME OF “HOKUSHI”. HE WAS THE SON, AND STUDENT OF 2ND GENERATION MASAHIDE, WHO FIRST SIGNED SUIKANSEI SADAHIDE. WHEN SADAHIDE WAS SERVING AS A BUDDHIST MONK (NYUDO), HE WAS KNOWN AS “SHIROKUMA”. SWORDS THAT WERE PRODUCED BY HIM DURING THIS PERIOD ARE SIGNED “SUIKANSEI MASAHIRO” THE GREATEST MAJORITY OF HIS EXISTING WORKS ARE SIGNED AS 2ND GENERATION “SUISHINSHI MASAHIDE”. HE WAS AN EXCELLENT SWORD MAKER, HE ALSO HAD A SON NAMED “HIDEYO”, WHO PRODUCED BLADES IN THE STYLE OF HIS FATHER, AND MASAHIDE I. SADAHIDE’S WORKS ARE FEW, AS HE PASSED AWAY AT A VERY EARLY AGE. THIS TOOK PLACE IN BUN-SEI (1818) THE 8TH YEAR, 10TH MONTH (OCTOBER 1825). HIS FATHER, “SUISHINSHI MASAHIDE I”, PASSED AWAY IN THE SAME YEAR, ONLY ONE MONTH BEFORE, AT THE AGE OF 76. HE WAS ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS SWORD MAKERS IN THE HISTORY OF JAPAN, AND CONSIDERED BY MOST TO BE THE FOUNDER OF THE SECOND SWORD REVIVAL. IT IS SOMEWHAT DIFFICULT TO FIND A PROMINENT SWORD SMITH OF THE SHIN SHINTO PERIOD WHO WAS NOT INFLUENCED BY “MASAHIDE I”. AS A “SAMURAI”, HE WAS A VERY WELL EDUCATED, AND LEARNED MAN. HE AUTHORED SEVERAL BOOKS, AND ESTABLISHED A SCHOOL (MON) THAT WAS SECOND, ONLY TO THE “HORIKAWA SCHOOL OF UMETADA MYOJU”.
THE SUISHINSHI SCHOOL WAS DEVASTATED BY THE VERY UNTIMELY PASSING OF ITS LEADERSHIP. IT WAS THEN THAT “TAIKEI NAOTANE” WAS CONSIDERED BY MOST TO BE THE HEAD (AND UNQUESTIONABLY THE MOST SKILLED) OF THE SCHOOL. THE SKILL OF NAOTANE WAS WIDELY KNOWN. IT IS SAID THAT IF HE WOULD HAVE LIVED DURING THE THE KAMAKURA PERIOD, HIS FAME, AND SKILL WOULD HAVE EQUALED OR EXCEEDED THAT OF MASAMUNE AND SADAMUNE. IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE PASSING OF SADAHIDE, TAIKEI NAOTANE ADOPTED HIS YOUNG SON “MASATSUGU”. HIS FATHER SADAHIDE INTRODUCED MASATSUGU AND PROVIDED HIS BASIC TUTOR SHIP IN THE ART OF “KATANA KAJI”. SOME SWORD SMITHS BEGAN PRODUCING BLADES AT THE AGE OF 10 YEARS. IT WAS “TAIKEI NAOTANE” WHO ASSUMED THE ROLE OF BOTH HIS FATHER AND HIS SENSEI.
“MASATSUGU” WAS (THERE WERE ONLY TWO OTHERS) GRANTED THE PRIVILEGE OF USING THE TITLE “SUISHINSHI” BY “MASAHIDE I”. THIS WAS OF COURSE DUE TO MASAHIDE’S RESPECT FOR HIS SKILL, AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS A SWORD MAKER. IT IS QUITE APPARENT THAT “TAIKEI NAOTANE” SHARED HIS FATHER’S ( MASAHIDE I ) RESPECT FOR MASATSUGU, BOTH AS A SWORD MAKER, AND AS A PERSON. “NAOTANE ENCOURAGED” THE MARRIAGE OF HIS DAUGHTER, TO MASATSUGU. THEY HAD A SON NAMED “HIDEYO”, WHO ALSO BECAME AN ACCOMPLISHED SWORD SMITH. HE IS KNOWN AS THE THIRD GENERATION OF “SUISHINSHI MASAHIDE”. WHEN SERVING AS A BUDDHIST MONK HE MADE SWORDS USING HIS BIRTH NAME. MASATSUGU CHOSE NEVER TO SIGN AS THIRD GENERATION MASAHIDE. THIS WAS PERHAPS DUE TO THE FACT THAT HE WAS BESTOWED WITH THE TITLE OF “SUISHINSHI”, IN CONJUNCTION WITH HIS OWN NAME OF “MASATSUGU”, AND WAS WELL KNOWN FOR HIS SKILL EARLY IN HIS CAREER. THIS BLADE’S HADA IS MOKUME (BURL WOOD), WITH ITAME (REGULAR WOOD), IT CHANGES TO MASAME (STRAIGHT GRAIN) ABOVE THE SHINOJI. IT HAS A DARKER GRAY APPEARANCE, AND A SMOOTH TEXTURE. THIS COMBINED WITH BRIGHT FINE NIOI, GIVES HIS WORK A BEAUTIFUL DISTINCTIVE CONTRAST.
THE HAMON IS GONOME CHOJI MIDARE, THERE IS FINE KINSUJI, AND INAZUMA, THE NIE IS VERY FINE. IT IS MOSTLY NIOI (CLOUD LIKE MARTINSITE) BASED, HIS NIOI IS TRULY “CLOUD LIKE”, AND VERY BEAUTIFUL. HIS NIE IS VERY UNIFORM AND MINUTE. THE INTERIOR OF THE HA IS WELL COVERED WITH NIE AND SOMETIMES THICK NIOI-ASHI THAT WILL EXTEND RIGHT DOWN TO THE CUTTING EDGE. HIS WORKMANSHIP APPROACHES THAT OF HIS SENSEI (TEACHER) TAIKEI NAOTANE. “SUISHINSHI MASATSUGU”, WAS MOST ACTIVE FROM; “KO-KA” (1844), TO “AN-SEI” (1860). HE PASSED AWAY IN “AN-SEI”, AT THE VERY EARLY AGE OF “47” YEAR’S!
DURING THE TIME THIS SWORD WAS PRODUCED, THE REVIVALIST IDEA WAS DOMINANT AND PURSUED BY MOST SWORD MAKERS. THIS WAS KNOWN AS “FUKKO-TO RON”, A DOCTRINE THAT ALL SWORDS SHOULD RETURN TO THE CLASSIC STYLE. THEY STRIVED TO BRING KAMAKURA (1185-1331) AND NAMBOKUCHO (1331-1393 ) PERIOD WORKMANSHIP BACK TO LIFE, THEREFORE MANY SWORDS WERE MEANT TO BE REPRODUCTIONS OF OLD MASTERFUL WORKS. THE WORKS OF THE “SUISHINSHI MASAHIDE” SCHOOL, ARE IN KEEPING WITH THIS DOCTRINE.
“SUISHINSHI KAWABE MASATSUGU”
HORIMONO BY, “HONJO YOSHITANE”
“DESCRIPTION & SPECIFICATIONS”
TYPE – KATANA
ERA: Ko-ka 1846
APPROXIMATE AGE OF BLADE: 159 Years
THE NAKAGO (TANG): Ubu (original, untouched)
MEI (MAKERS SIGNATURE):
Kawabe, SUISHINSHI, Fujiwara, Masatsugu – (Kakihan)
This is on the Omote (side worn away from the body)
Ko-Ka- 2nd year, 8th month,
Horimono, HONJO, (no) Suke, Yoshitane
This is on the Ura (side worn towards the body)
JIRI (TANG END): kuri
MEKUGI ANA (HOLE IN TANG FOR RETAINING PEG): 1
BLADE TYPE: Katana
STYLE: Shinogi-Zukuri (most popular style)
MUNE (BACK RIDGE): Iori (peaked))
NAGASA (LENGTH OF CUTTING EDGE): N- 66 cm / 26”
SORI (CURVATURE): 1.2 cm / ½”
Motohaba (WIDTH): 3.3 cm / 1-5/16”
BOSHI: (TEMPERING IN POINT): Yakuzume (small turn back)
KISSAKI (POINT STYLE): Ikubi (medium point)
GONOME / Choji-Midare: wavy with clove shape waves
There is a considerable amount of activity within the Hamon including:
Kinsuji (curly white radiant lines, Martensite)
Sunagashi (grain formations looking like drifting lines made of sand, Martensite)
Ashi – (martensitic thin lines projecting towards the cutting edge)
Yo- (tiny leaf shaped grain formations detached from the hamon and projecting towards the cutting edge)
Nioi- (extremely fine Martensite crystals, giving a misty Cloud like appearance to the jihada)
Nie- Mixed with the Nioi.
HADA (BLADE GRAIN STYLE):
Shinogi-ji (area between ridge and back of blade) is Masame hada (straight)
Ji- (area between ridge and hamon) is Mokume / Itame (a mixture of burl and wood grain)
HORIMONO BY; “HONJO YOSHITANE” MASTER ENGRAVER (SEE NARRATIVE)
TSUBA: Signed Soten school, dotted rim. very fine.
Saya: high luster, black lacquer, multiple coat’s giving it Great Depth.
FUCHI KASHIRA: w/ Nanako-Shakudo / gold overlay
Castle, and Bridge, w / Flowers. exceptionally fine quality
Kozuka: Shakudo / Nanako, designed with caring bag, and kanji brush.
Menuki: Koku of rice.
KIZU (FLAWS): None
HABAKI: One piece gold
SHIRA SAYA (STORAGE CASE)
NOTES:* (Bujin) Marshiten a.k.a. Great Goddess Marishiten
Bujin Marishiten is a fairly obscure goddess that was originally a deity of Indian/Chinese Buddhism, until she was brought over to Japan. There, she was adopted by the warrior class of Samurai as their patroness and protectress. She is known by many different names and for many different aspects, including but not limited to: Marici (Sanskrit), Marisha-Ten (another Japanese name) , and Molichitian (Chinese). Marishiten was adopted as
the patroness of the Warrior class in the 8th century and was considered so for 900 years after.
By worshipping Marishiten, the samurai believed that a warrior would transcend into a more rarified spiritual realm, which is often associated with the practice of Zen. Strangely, however, the worship of Marishiten predates any other documentation of Zen Buddhism. So, what exactly did Marishiten do for the samurai? By worshipping her, a warrior would reach a spiritual level that was not concerned with winning or losing, nor with life or death. By transcending to this level, the warrior was so empowered by this goddess, that he was no longer imprisoned by his own grasp on life. He was able to let go to his mortality and become a better warrior. In the worship of Marishiten, the warrior reached an ultimate act of selflessness. (Compiled by Cheryl Bell)
Masatsugu worked as a retained sword smith of the domain of Tatebayashi in Busyu province. He later lived at Okachimachi in Edo. He was also married to a daughter of Naotane. ~*~ He passed away in March of 1860, aged 47. Masatsugu sometimes signed his blades as “ Tohi-Masatsugu “ or “ Higo ju Doudanuki Masatsugu “.
“HONJO YOSHITANE” MASTER HORIMONO ENGRAVER!
YOSHITANE WAS BORN IN “DEWA” PROVINCE. HE WAS GIVEN THE NAME “KAMI-NO-SUKE”, AT BIRTH. HE FIRST APPROACHED THE MON (SCHOOL) OF “TAIKEI NAOTANE” TO STUDY THE ART OF KATANA KAJI (SWORD MAKING), AND RESIDED AT THE RESIDENCE OF NAOTANE, IN THE “TEN-PO” (1830 ~ 1843). ALTHOUGH HE BECAME AN ACCOMPLISHED SWORD MAKER (HIS EXISTING WORKS ARE FEW), HIS TRUE EXPERTISE WAS AS A HORIMONO ARTIST! HE SERVED AS HORIMONO SENSEI (INSTRUCTOR) TO “SUISHINSHI MASAHIDE I”, “SECOND GENERATION MASAHIDE”, “TAIKEI NAOTANE”, “SUISHINSHI MASATSUGU”, “NOBUHIDE”, AND MANY MORE! HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE HORIMONO THAT IS SEEN ON THERE BLADES. ON OCCASION THE SIGNED HIS WORK ON THE NAKAGO’S OF THE BLADES. OUR BLADE IS ONE OF THESE SELDOM SEEN PIECES!
“YOSHITANE” WAS ONE OF THE FOREMOST HORIMONO CARVERS THAT EVER LIVED. THERE IS ONE REFERENCE THAT LIST’S THE “TOP 12” ARTISTES, HE IS RATED SECOND ONLY TO “UMETADA MYOJU”! YOSHITANE ALSO ACHIEVED FAME AS A KODOGU (SWORD FURNITURE), AND “TSUBA” MAKER. I HAVE INCLUDED AN PHOTOGRAPHIC EXAMPLE OF A FINE TSUBA BY HIM, AND SOME OF HIS MOST POPULAR HORIMONO’S. THE DETAIL, AND COLOR OF THE TSUBAS PATINA ARE MARVELOUS. HE IS RATED “JO – JO” SAKU (UPPER – UPPER) CLASS FOR HIS TSUBA, AND KODUGU WORK. HE WAS SUCCEEDED BY HIS SON, WHO’S WORK IS ALSO SUPERB. IT SHOULD BE CONSIDER IT A GREAT PRIVILEGE TO OWN A BLADE WITH HIS HORIMONO.
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