Q789. In Polish Tanto with Aikuchi Koshirae


Q789. Mumei tanto.

Nagasa: 8″ 20.5 cm.

Sori: slight uchizori

Moto haba: 2.3 cm.

Moto kasane: .5 cm.

Nakago nagasa: 3 1/8″ 7.9 cm.

Overall in shirasaya: 13 1/2″ 34.4 cm.

Hira zukuri, iore mune. The hada is itame with prominent mokume in bright ji-nie. The hamon is suguba with fine lines of kinsuji/sunagashi ending in a ko-maru boshi and a short kaeri, all in a bright nioi guchi covered in ko-nie.  The nakago is, most likely, ubu with 2 ana. It looks to have signed at one time but the signature is lost to time. The tanto is in polish, mounted with a gold colored habaki (it isn’t foil and I don’t think it is solid gold; maybe an alloy or a well done plate), and in shirasaya. Other than for a few tiny, tiny pin pricks, it is flawless.

The aikuchi (without a tsuba) koshirae is in excellent condition; no damage to the lacquer and the handle wrap is intact. All the metal parts are en suite of shibuichi or something similar. There are pockets in the saya for kogai and kotsuka but these are missing. The mounts are held together with a well made tsunagi (wood blade) with wood habaki. Both the blade in shirasaya and the koshirae come with Japanese sword bags.

Mark Jones and I own this tanto. When we bought it it came with a paper from the NTHK giving it to Gassan. Mark and I had our doubts so we sent it to Jimmy Hayashi for polish and John Tirado for shirasaya and tsunagi. We haven’t submitted this tanto for new paper but best guess from Mr. Hayashi and a few others who have seen it is something like Shitahara School and sometime in Muromachi period. The prominent mokume is consistent with Shitahara work.

Whatever this ends up being, it is quite nice. 500 or so years old, in excellent polish and excellent condition, with koshirae and paper: there is a lot here to appreciate.  1 pound, 3 ounces. $2,995.