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Old 13th June 2017, 09:34 AM   #1
Tatyana Dianova
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Default Japanese dagger in Aynu style?

On the dark and unsharp seller's photos the sword looked Aynu style, but looking closer and after cleaning it is pretty well made and most probably antique Japanese dagger, maybe Aynu inspired, for European market.
The blade was heavily rusted and has many small nicks from use; it has no visible hamon and hada. I wasn't able to remove it from the hilt, although there is an opening and no Mekugi. Maybe it is glued in or heavily rusted inside.
Any opinions on this one? Anyway, I love the cute dragon carving
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Old 13th June 2017, 12:18 PM   #2
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I don't think (?) it is Ainu. Most likely a post WWII mount with possibly a good, older blade (can't tell from the pics). Fancy carved mounts were commonly used as gifts or souvenirs for GI's or tourists.

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Old 13th June 2017, 03:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tatyana Dianova
... I wasn't able to remove it from the hilt, although there is an opening and no Mekugi. ...


I have a friend that is quite conversant with Ainu weaponry. He's suggested that the eye of the dragon might actually be a second pinning spot, a screw rivet that is undone by holding the back of the rivet with a tool and turning the other eyeball to undo it as most Ainu swords have two holes for them as per the below photo.

He's also commented that this style sword was NOT for the tourist market as suggested, and is a definite Ainu item, but is as used and carried by the Ainu. This is a traditional ceremonial dress for an Ainu sword, and in many early photographs of the Ainu warriors dressed in traditional dress you may see these swords or knives tucked into the belt sash of the kimono, they are not the mounts of a sword that would have been used in battle which have a guard and similar fittings to the usual Japanese katana but different in that they are flatter and smaller.

more photos of a similar ainu weapon also attached.
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Last edited by kronckew : 13th June 2017 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 13th June 2017, 05:17 PM   #4
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I stand corrected. I Googled Ainu sword images and there are a couple shown similar to this one. Definitely a dress/ceremonial type; fighting swords are much more like katana in their mounts. Always glad to learn.

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Old 13th June 2017, 05:24 PM   #5
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i try to learn one new thing every day, then pass it on. we're never too old to learn.

p.s. - even an old dog CAN learn new tricks.
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Old 13th June 2017, 07:59 PM   #6
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Great information, thanks a lot!
I will try to gently remove the eyes of the dragon, and I will share the tang photo if succeeded.
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Old 14th June 2017, 04:47 AM   #7
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Just a word of caution, many of these metal screw mekugi (rivit) are reversed thread, you think you are unscrewing it but actually tightened it up & to the point of breaking off the head, try it both ways gently. I've learned the hard way years ago.

Best,
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Old 14th June 2017, 03:51 PM   #8
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Again more great info Maskell. Thank you all for posting and illuminating this type of piece.
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Old 16th June 2017, 02:02 AM   #9
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While hunting Ainu cutlery I have seen a couple of these short sword that have carved koshirae that seems to reference Ainu motif. They feature something like "fish scale" designs. they are carved on dark wood and they don't look terribly "Japanese." I even one one of these swords, but I have to admit that they do not fit neatly and clearly into Ainu style. My sword of this style is actually a spear point that re-purposed as a sword. That, too, seems appropriate for Ainu swords since they often are built around blades that would NOT be "good" to Japanese users. They're always short swords, too. Finally, these swords often seem to be well carved - as if they were made by Japanese professionals FOR the Ainu market rather than fitted out by Ainu carvers. I prefer the rustic style of individualized Ainu pieces.
The Ainu trade featured lots of items that were made by Japanese officials as ceremonial pieces for men that Japanese wanted to be recognized as important - their pals. I wonder if this sword - and this type - may have been that sort of thing. In any case, I would not work too hard to expose the tang of the blade. It is VERY unlikely to be significant as a "Japanese" blade.
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Old 16th June 2017, 04:11 AM   #10
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What is that little piece hanging from the hilt on a string?
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Old 18th June 2017, 08:32 PM   #11
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Thank you for your insights Peter - it really explains the mystery!
I do not think that the eyes are rivets - they lay offset, and the angle doesn't match either. I do not want make any damage.
The small thing is a roll of paper with some signs on it. The roll is glued, I wasn't able to unroll it. It is included in a knotted half-sphere.
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Old 18th June 2017, 09:02 PM   #12
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Maskell,
I have an Indian dagger with a tool left screwed, as you mention on Tatyanas Japanese dagger.
Do you know where this was used and why??
Jens
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Old 18th June 2017, 11:10 PM   #13
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the tangs on these are normally unsigned, oddly, the one i posted earlier WAS signed -not on the tang, but on the underside of the grip. you can just make it out below:
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Old 19th June 2017, 01:50 AM   #14
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This looks to me like the signature of the man who carved the fittings. It is probably in NO WAY a reference to whoever made the blade. If I had to - I'd read this signature a either "Hoichi" or "Norikazu". If reseach were to turn up anything on this person I bet it would say ""Late Edo wood carver". This might also support my suggestion that this is a Japanese production - possibly for the Ainu trade, and NOT made by an Ainu.
Thanks for showing us the sword.
Peter
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Old 19th June 2017, 05:52 AM   #15
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Question Is this possibly related?

The origin of this 'yarifish' was never resolved when it was presented on the old forums in 2000. The tang of a Japanese spear has been broken off and only friction is holding the blade in place. Not the standard of work of the dagger in the present discussion, but could this be the poor man's version of the same?
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Old 19th June 2017, 07:46 AM   #16
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Jens: All screws on old Indian jewelry I have are reversed thread! And only on the modern items the "correct" screws sometimes appear.
It looks like "left" screws were the norm in old India.
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