Made in Canton, China, for the Japanese market.
In koshirae 107.3 cm
Sword with hilt 94.6 cm
Blade unmounted 90.2 cm
Blade length 69.1 cm
Base 7.7 mm
Tip 5 mm
Hamachi (base) 29 mm
Kissaki (tip) 18.5 mm
Blade 712 grams
With hilt 957 grams
14.5 cm from guard
Koshirae: Wood, shakudō, urushi lacquer, silk, stingray skin, buffalo horn, gold, silver, copper.
Blade circa 1670-1680
Koshirae 19th century
From a Dutch private collection
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A Japanese katana sword, complete with a full set of koshirae with a horse theme on all metal parts.
The blade has a moderate and even curve called toriizori, named after Shinto shrine archways of the same shape.
There is one wide groove on the left side, two grooves on the right side. It has a slightly elongated kissaki (point). The yokote line is faded.
The nakago (tang) is signed:
Sesshū-jū Fujiwara Hiroyoshi
"Resident of Sesshu [province], Fujiwara [honorary title] Hiroyoshi."
Active around the 1670s and 1680s, Hiroyoshi was a student of Sukehiro (助広) who was a master swordsmith known for making superior cutting swords (saijō-ō-wazamono).1 Hiroyishi himself was less well known, and his works were rated chū saku by Fujishiro, meaning "average work".2
The sword is currently not in a fine enough polish to judge the work, but the forging appears quite tight. Without flaws on the right side, some tiny ware on the left. The grooves are also rather well cut.
From what can be seen in its current state, the hada is itame (simple wood grain). The hamon is suguha-based (straight temperline) in nie deki (with large crystal particles) with quite some activity within the hamon, including sunagashi (effects reminiscent of brushed sand).
1. Markus Sesko; Swordsmiths of Japan. Lulu Publishing, 2014. Pages 1000-1001.
2. Ibid. Page 128.
The mountings consist of a full set of hilt mounts consisting of tsuba, fuchi, and kashira all in shakudō with horses in gold, silver, and several other colored alloys. It also has two horse-shaped menuki under the wrap.
The saya (scabbard) is lacquered with dark red urushi over which a clear layer with mother of pearl particles, giving a sparkling appearance. The scabbard mouth, tip and loop are made of black buffalo horn.
Restorations/repairs & alterations
The nakago was altered in several ways. It was shortened, and the hamachi moved up the blade. It was also thinned somewhat, after which artificial patination was re-applied.
The scabbard has some areas where the underlying layers of the lacquer are seen, possibly where some surface damage was polished out.
The blade edge appears deliberately dulled at some point.
The blade could use a polish to bring back the details in the steel.
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Both blades signed, its koshirae fine maki-e lacquer work. Ito school tsuba and Mino Gotō style mounts. …
Considered one of the best makers of naginata, he worked for the household of Fukushima Masanori.
Made in the 16th century, for the warrior monks of the Hozo-in temple in Nara.
A masterpiece of the genre. The Yagami school were excellent carvers of iron.
Fine work and one of the very few enamelled tsuba by this maker.