A fine and unusually large tsuba. Attributed to Hizen by the NBTHK.
Sheathed 107 cm
With shaft 104.5 cm
Unmounted 61.8 cm
Tip to base 42.5 cm
Blade length 39.2 cm
Base 12.5 mm
Center 10 mm
5 cm from tip 8 mm
Base 29 mm
Center 28 mm
5 cm from tip 25 mm
Iron, steel, urushi lacquer
Shirasaya: wood and bamboo
Imported from Japan
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A large Japanese spearhead called yari. It is of typical form, but larger and more elongated, with nearly parallel sides, a strong point, and a triangular cross-section. At the base just above the tang, it becomes five facets.
The blade is very tightly forged, its steel surface showing a straight wood grain pattern (masame hada). The temperline (hamon) is a very subtle suguha (straight temperline) in nioi-deki (cloudy martensite), emphasized by a kesho polish.
The most striking feature is the large fuller on the flat side, of a type called kusabi-hi (楔樋) which literally means "wedge-groove".1 Irregularly cut and highlighted with red lacquer, its aggressive appearance provides a stark contrast with the otherwise cold precision of the piece.
It comes in a well-made plain wooden resting scabbard (shirasaya).
Of rectangular cross-section, it starts very thick and gradually tapers down. It has one hole for a peg (mekugi ana) for securing it to the shaft.
It is signed:
Ise daijō Shimosaka Mitsuhiro
Mitsuhiro was active in Echizen around the Genroku period (1688-1704). He was part of the Shimosaka school, founded by first-generation Yasutsugu. Ise daijō is an official title granted by the imperial court.
"Itame mixed with masame, blackish jigane, suguha with compact nioiguchi, he signed with a rather
thick chisel in a barely legible manner composed of short and thick chisel strokes." 2
Among his works are mainly yari, such as this one.
1. The Kashima Sisters; Grooves on swords and their meaning. Ksky.ne.jp
2. Markus Sesko; Swordsmiths of Japan. Lulu, Inc. 2015. Page 621.
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