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Old 14th October 2017, 05:45 AM   #1
weapons 27
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Default naginata blade please help

could you identify what is written on this Japanese naginata blade.I do not know if the photo is the right way ..
thank you in advance
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Old 14th October 2017, 05:59 AM   #2
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I hope to save this blade by polishing it ???
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Old 14th October 2017, 06:52 AM   #3
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Hello,
The writting is very crude and the shape, albeit very similar, is not of a typical naginata. So I suspect it is a Chinese blade.
You may want to join the Nihonto Message Board and use their forum as they are very knowledgeable about Japanese blades.
Good luck!
Marius
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Old 14th October 2017, 07:02 AM   #4
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One of the most frustrating things about Japanese blades is that they are either perfect or worthless.
Professional polish of this one will cost you several thousands of dollars. It will remove a lot of the most precious metal and the final result will likely be disappointing.

Personally, I refuse to touch Nihonto with a fifty foot pole.
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Old 14th October 2017, 08:53 AM   #5
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Red face Confession of a General Ethnographic Arms Collector

Ariel is, I fear, absolutely correct in his observations.

I would suggest you enjoy it as it is, except for mild oiling or waxing to reduce further degradation. It does appear to have genuine age and this speaks as to its history.

Several years ago, I found an omi-no-yari at Brimfield. I was second in line as there was a 'proper' nihonto collector already looking at it. He asked the dealer the price and then observed in response that, from losses to the engravings, it was already a bit too tired from repeated polishings. I paused and allowed him to take six steps away and then I immediately repeated the mentioned price back to the generalist dealer and promptly peeled this requested price from my bankroll. We were both smiling. For me this was a 'Brimfield eureka!'

I was prepared to enjoy it as it was and still am. Some wax on the blade and a tiny touch of glue here and there, but otherwise still exactly as it was. I am not saying that the nihonto collecting community is wrong in their quest for flawless perfection, only that, characterizing myself as a general ethnographic arms collector, this is not my goal - for me the excitement is in the tangible evidence of very different times and places that such pieces provide.

It has already been presented in these forums, so I'll not repeat the rest. There is a link to the Nihonto Message Board in that thread.
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Old 16th October 2017, 04:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
One of the most frustrating things about Japanese blades is that they are either perfect or worthless.
Professional polish of this one will cost you several thousands of dollars. It will remove a lot of the most precious metal and the final result will likely be disappointing.

Personally, I refuse to touch Nihonto with a fifty foot pole.
Ariel, a very negative view. While it is quite expensive to polish a Japanese blade(around $100 per inch), the results are often stunning and not "disappointing" at all. People sometimes do insist on polishing very old and worn blades or blades that are just not of a good quality and this "can" result in a disappointing result. Sometimes a hidden fault will be exposed during polishing even on a good looking blade.....but the final result when you finish polishing any Japanese blade is not "likely to be disappointing".

Were did you hear that a Japanese blade is either "perfect or worthless"??? This is not the case at all, it really depends on the blade and the owner, some people are perfectionists and some people just enjoy collecting and do not expect perfection. I have some Japanese blades that are far from perfect and they are also far from worthless.
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Old 16th October 2017, 04:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Hello,
The writting is very crude and the shape, albeit very similar, is not of a typical naginata. So I suspect it is a Chinese blade.
You may want to join the Nihonto Message Board and use their forum as they are very knowledgeable about Japanese blades.
Good luck!
Marius
I agree that something is not quite right with this blade, pole and fittings, I have several very worn and out of polish naginata blades but they do not look like this. The photographs are not good at all, this may be one problem here, also the habaki has not been removed, all Japanese blades should be photographed without the habaki. The habiki and pole fittings seem....rather new maybe? The pole (nagaye) looks round...naginata poles are not round, they are oval, Japanese spear (yari) poles are round. The end cap (ishizuki) is not the typical naginata shape, the metal re-enforced part (tachiuchi) that is typically seen at the mouth of naginata poles looks strange....overall there are some questions that need to be addressed here.

Below are some examples I have, the blade is in very bad condition as you can see but it looks nothing like the one being discussed. I think some better, more detailed images may help.
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Last edited by estcrh : 17th October 2017 at 04:04 AM.
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Old 16th October 2017, 05:58 AM   #8
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Detailed photos
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Old 16th October 2017, 08:46 AM   #9
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Eric,

Please notice multiple pittings, some of which are quite deep . Thus, perfect polish will remove at least 1-2, maybe more, mm from each side of the entire blade. Whatever “damascus” picture was present, will likely be removed or significantly distorted. No serious Nihonto buff will be impressed by the final result.

We easily accept virtually any “Islamic” blade with superficial defects, patches of discoloration, occasional forging flaws etc, but the attitude of the guy from Lee’s story is typical for serious Nihonto collectors. Their acceptability criteria are just different. They are a breed apart.

The only other type of collectors who are somewhat approaching this level of perfectionism are “ wootz” collectors: witness Fiegel’s sorrowful comments on occasional microscopic slag inclusions:-)
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Old 17th October 2017, 04:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Eric,

Please notice multiple pittings, some of which are quite deep . Thus, perfect polish will remove at least 1-2, maybe more, mm from each side of the entire blade. Whatever “damascus” picture was present, will likely be removed or significantly distorted. No serious Nihonto buff will be impressed by the final result.

We easily accept virtually any “Islamic” blade with superficial defects, patches of discoloration, occasional forging flaws etc, but the attitude of the guy from Lee’s story is typical for serious Nihonto collectors. Their acceptability criteria are just different. They are a breed apart.

The only other type of collectors who are somewhat approaching this level of perfectionism are “ wootz” collectors: witness Fiegel’s sorrowful comments on occasional microscopic slag inclusions:-)


Ariel, this blade is atypical, highly unusual, maybe it was in a fire or??? No one would have this polished without first getting the opinion of an experienced polisher who has trained in Japan and knows the traditional methods passed down from generation to generation. No good polisher would recommend polishing a Japanese blade that they thought should not be polished, the finished work would not reflect well on their reputation.

I am not sure what a "serious nihonto collector" is, there are many types, some are perfectionists some are not, it is not good to over generalize. Many people buy what they like and you can also find polished Japanese swords for a good price, often way less that the price of the polish alone.

I have a few naginata, some polished in varying degrees, some highly flawed....so do you really believe that the ones which are not "perfect" are "worthless"?
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Old 17th October 2017, 04:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weapons 27
Detailed photos
Can you photograph the entire blade with all fittings removed? Is the pole round or oval?
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Old 17th October 2017, 05:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by estcrh
Can you photograph the entire blade with all fittings removed? Is the pole round or oval?

here are the photos.
yes it's oval
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Old 17th October 2017, 09:43 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by estcrh

I have a few naginata, some polished in varying degrees, some highly flawed....so do you really believe that the ones which are not "perfect" are "worthless"?



No, but just by the breadth of the examples from your collection and your comments on a wide range of bladed weapons from all over the world I think you are not a “serious Nihonto collector”.

I have several Nihonto blades, but would not dare call my interest “ serious” and so, I am sure, many other Forumites. But the guy from Lee’s story was a “serious” one. Figiel was a serious Indo-Persian collector ( see his auction catalogue), Jens is a serious katars collector and often admits his lack of expertise in case of other Indian weapons.

Serious collectors concentrate on a very narrow area, but 99% of us are eclectic and have much more relaxed standards. But many, if not most of our cherished things are “worthless” in the eyes of “serious” collectors. We cherish them for their age and kisses of time, they reject them for the very same reasons.Nothing wrong with it: there are as many collections as there are collectors.
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Old 17th October 2017, 09:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weapons 27
here are the photos.
yes it's oval
Can you remove the habaki?
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Old 17th October 2017, 10:58 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
the guy from Lee’s story was a “serious” one.
Ariel, from this statement you know that the guy who did not buy Lee's yari was a "serious collector"..... "He asked the dealer the price and then observed in response that, from losses to the engravings, it was already a bit too tired from repeated polishings".....this proves nothing, maybe the guy was just cheap, or not really interested, or....fill in the blank. So if someone collects other weapons besides Japanese blades they are disqualified from being a "serious collector"? Someone can not be a "serious collector" of both Japanese weapons and Indo-Persian weapons....I never heard that before, sounds a bit elitist to me
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Old 17th October 2017, 12:23 PM   #16
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[QUOTE=estcrh]Can you remove the habaki?[/QUOT


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Old 17th October 2017, 03:02 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by estcrh
I never heard that before, sounds a bit elitist to me


Well, you are entitled to your opinion, just as I am to mine.
I am a subscriber to Sir Isaiah Berlin’s fox and hedgehog theory.
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Old 17th October 2017, 04:08 PM   #18
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I asked a friend for a translation of the mei/signature.

The mei reads "Katsukuni" (Darani school), a Shinto smith who lived in Kaga (Ishikawa Prefecture). Thus dating from the period 1600-1764.
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Old 17th October 2017, 05:05 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pieje
I asked a friend for a translation of the mei/signature.

The mei reads "Katsukuni" (Darani school), a Shinto smith who lived in Kaga (Ishikawa Prefecture). Thus dating from the period 1600-1764.



The characters of the signature are quite crude and I suspect it is a gimei.
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Old 19th October 2017, 05:34 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pieje
I asked a friend for a translation of the mei/signature.

The mei reads "Katsukuni" (Darani school), a Shinto smith who lived in Kaga (Ishikawa Prefecture). Thus dating from the period 1600-1764.

hi pieje
thank you for the translation of the signature
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Old 23rd October 2017, 12:02 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weapons 27
I hope to save this blade by polishing it ???



My guess is Japanese Naginata and Koto-era, which means it was made before 1600.

One good alternative to a full polishing is a window. The prize for such a 1"-window in the surface is around 100$/€. I know a Togishi in Germany for that purpose.

I would say, this blade is worth a polishing, but I cannot see how deep the corrosion is. The problem is, that the outer layer of steel (Hada) is often only a few tenths of a Millimeter wide. If the outer layer is polished through, the inner core becomes visible and this core is often made of ugly low quality steel.

I can see, that someone grinded the Nakago (tang), that is absoltely forbidden and reduces the value of the blade significantly.


Roland

p.s. Ariel, yes collecting Nihonto is a great risk. Until now, I bought four blades. One is junk, the other three pieces are of great quality. Unless you are willing to pay 8.000-10.000$ or more for a blade, it is always a gamble . Me was lucky enough to win a Wakizashi from famous Tadayoshi 3d for a very reasonable prize. If you see such a blade, you become an addict! And I really like their signatures on blades: "Hizen Kuni Ju Mutsu No Kami Tadayoshi" that is a name! He was a living treasure already during his lifetime. And if you hold one of his blades, you know why!
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Old 24th October 2017, 08:17 AM   #22
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Roland,
Not being even an amateur Nihonto collector I accept your dating this naginata to the Koto era.

Otherwise, we are in complete agreement.
See my post #9.

I think that with heavy rust and abundant deep pitting this blade has lost its
value for a serious collector. Full polishing, IMHO,will likely result in exactly what you are describing: complete or at the very least significant loss of Hada.

I appreciate and respect your collection interest in Nihonto and am happy that you were able to restore some valuable examples to perfection. I just think this is not the case with this blade.


My inclination would be to leave it alone. Oiling it to prevent further damage and respecting its age and hard life.

Long ago I bought a sword at a Gun and Knife Show for a maximum I could afford then :$25. It was in a fire and retempered, the blade lost a lot of its width and thickness from repeated sharpenings and polishing, the Yakiba was no more than 2-3 mm wide and soft steel was showing.
But it was signed, and several “serious” Nihonto buffs told me that the smith was Kanesada first generation, dating it to ~ 15-16 century ( if I remember correctly).

From the”serious collector” perch it was not worth even what I paid for it:-) And that was what I was told repeatedly : hopeless sword that was long dead.

But for me this sword was important: many generations of warriors knew something about this blade, brought it back to life many times over and kept it despite its obvious flaws. They just did not want to see it die. It had some special historical value. We cannot recall it, but generations of samurai did.

And that is why I keep it, despite not collecting Nihonto.
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Old 24th October 2017, 07:53 PM   #23
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I think "would not paper" is a better choice of words than "worthless". However I agree with Ariel, from a Nihonto standpoint they are pretty much the same.
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Old 25th October 2017, 01:40 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel

But for me this sword was important: many generations of warriors knew something about this blade, brought it back to life many times over and kept it despite its obvious flaws. They just did not want to see it die. It had some special historical value. We cannot recall it, but generations of samurai did.

And that is why I keep it, despite not collecting Nihonto.


THIS echoes my own sentiments so well. Thank for articulating so perfectly, Ariel.
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