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Katana Hizen kuni Dewa no kami Yukihiro Circa 1670 Made For the Nabeshima

All original Edo fittings to compliment the blade. 1670 Iron Higo mounts with pure gold inlaid Imperial chrysanthemum mon to the fushi and kashira. Round iron 1670 Edo tsuba. Original Edo period lacquer saya. Yukihiro was a swordsmith of Hizen province, and as we believe this sword was made by him around 1670, he was making his swords for the Nebeshima at this time, so we believe it is very likely this was created intially for one of that family clan.
He was the Second son of Hashimoto Yoshinobu.
Yukihiro acquired the title of Dewa Daijo in 1648 and was ranked up to Dewa (No) Kami in 1663.
He travelled to Nagasaki to learn under Hisatsugu and Tanenaga who were highly informed about western steels brought to Japan by the Dutch. Yukihiro also studied Bizen-den style under the swordsmith that belonged to the Ishido School and sometimes added the character Ichi to his signature. Later he became a retained swordsmith of the Nabeshima family and lived in Nagase town. He passed away in 1683, aged 66. The clan controlled Saga Domain from the late Sengoku period through the Edo period.

The Nabeshima clan was a cadet branch of the Shoni clan and was descended from the Fujiwara clan. In the late 12th century, Fujiwara no Sukeyori, a descendant of Fujiwara no Hidesato in the 9th generation, received the title of Dazai Shoni (equivalent to that of vice-governor of the military government of Kyushu) from Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo, and the title became the family name.

The clan played an important role in the region as early as the Muromachi period, when it helped suppress opposition to the Ashikaga shogunate's control of Kyushu. It did not take the name Nabeshima, however, until the late 15th century, when Sh?ni Shigenao established himself at Nabeshima in Hizen province (today part of Saga City, Saga prefecture). Later, in the Sengoku period (1467-1603), the Nabeshima were one of a number of clans which clashed over the island. The Nabeshima sided with the Ryuzoji clan against the Otomo clan, though this ultimately ended in failure and the death of Ryuzoji Takanobu at the 1584 battle of Okita Nawate. Several years later, however, the Nabeshima recovered power and prominence by aiding Toyotomi Hideyoshi in his 1587 invasion of Kyushu; Nabeshima Naoshige was granted the region of Saga as his fief, as a reward for his efforts. Naoshige also contributed to Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea in the 1590s.

The clan initially aided Ishida Mitsunari against Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Sekigahara Campaign in 1600. However, they switched sides to support the Tokugawa, who were ultimately victorious, before the campaign had ended, battling and occupying the forces of Tachibana Muneshige, who was thus prevented from contributing directly to the battle of Sekigahara. Though regarded as tozama daimyo ("outside" lords), and assigned particularly heavy corvee duties, the Nabeshima were allowed to keep their territory in Saga, and in fact had their kokudaka increased. The clan's forces served the new Tokugawa shogunate loyally in the years which followed; they remained in Kyushu during the 1615 Osaka Campaign as a check against a possible rebellion or uprising by the Shimazu clan, and aided in the suppression of the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637. In recognition of their service, members of the clan were granted the prestigious family honorific name of Matsudaira in 1648, Matsudaira being the original Tokugawa family name, the ruling Shogun of Japan for almost 300 years. 29.75 inch blade from tsuba to tip. Overall 39 inches long in saya

Code: 19598

5950.00 GBP


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A Stunning Ancient Koto Period Katana Circa 1400, Muromachi Era.

Originally tachi or uchigatana mounted this fabulous and ancient sword was remounted likely 400 years ago as a katana. Signed tsuba decorated with a figure on a water buffalo and small pure gold inlaid dots. Gilt decorated fushi kashira, the fushi with depicting jungle fauna and the kashira with a takebori tiger. Gold silk bound tsuka over bronze shishi on black samegawa. Set off with a dark red stone finish lacquer saya. The blade has an incredibly beautiful and complex hamon pattern, with just a couple of thin, natural openings due to it's great age. The uchigatana was the predecessor to the katana as the battle-blade of feudal Japan's bushi (warrior class), and as it evolved into the later design, the two were often differentiated from each other only by how they were worn and by the fittings for the blades.
It was during the Mongol invasions that it was shown there were some weaknesses in the tachi sword which led to the development of the Katana.
In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors [daimyo] of what became the ruling class would wear their swords tachi mounted This sword would very likely have been used in the Onin War (1467?1477) which led to serious political fragmentation and obliteration of domains: a great struggle for land and power ensued among bushi chieftains and lasted until the mid-sixteenth century. Peasants rose against their landlords and samurai against their overlords, as central control virtually disappeared. An early Japanese print in the gallery shows a samurai receiving his reward of a fine tachi [such as this one] from his shugo daimyo lord. The shugo daimyo were the first group of men to hold the title "daimyo". They arose from among the shugo during the Muromachi period. The shugo daimyo held not only military and police powers, but also economic power within a province. They accumulated these powers throughout the first decades of the Muromachi period. The Onin War was a major uprising in which shugo daimyo fought each other. During this and other wars of the time, kuni ikki, or provincial uprisings, took place as locally powerful warriors sought independence from the shugo daimyo. The deputies of the shugo daimyo, living in the provinces, seized the opportunity to strengthen their position. At the end of the fifteenth century, those shugo daimyo who succeeded remained in power. Those who had failed to exert control over their deputies fell from power and were replaced by a new class, the "sengoku daimyo", who arose from the ranks of the shugodai'K and Ji-samurai.
28 inch blade length from tsuba to tip, 39 inches full length complete katana in saya, 9.65 inch Tsuka

Code: 19532

5750.00 GBP


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A Beautiful Koto Samurai Sword Circa 1500, Around 500 Years Old

A big and most impressive samurai combat sword. The blade's hamon is superb but obscured by grey surface discolouration that can be completely repolished as new. Silver flowers onlaid on to iron fushigashira, oval copper tsuba lacqured in black [now worn]. All original Edo period fittings, including the saya that unusually has an Edo kogai hair retainer, that bears two aoi tokugawa mon. All original Edo koshirae, and the saya lacquer is beautiful quality ishime [stone finish] in wonderful condition. The katana was such a crucial part of a samurai’s life that when a young warrior was on the verge of entering this world, the sword he would use as a protector was brought into the delivery room as if to greet the young one. And, when a weathered, old veteran warrior was on his deathbed, ready to cross over into the White Jade Pavilion of the afterlife, his katana was placed at his side, as if to protect him one last time. Samurai endured for almost 700 years, from 1185 to 1867. Samurai families were considered the elite. They made up only about six percent of the population and included daimyo and the loyal soldiers who fought under them. Samurai means “one who serves."

Samurai were expected to be both fierce warriors and lovers of art, a dichotomy summed up by the Japanese concepts of bu [to stop the spear] exanding into bushido (“the way of life of the warrior”) and bun (“the artistic, intellectual and spiritual side of the samurai”). Originally conceived as away of dignifying raw military power, the two concepts were synthesized in feudal Japan and later became a key feature of Japanese culture and morality.The quintessential samurai was Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary early Edo-period swordsman who reportedly killed 60 men before his 30th birthday and was also a painting master. Members of a hierarchal class or caste, samurai were the sons of samurai and they were taught from an early age to unquestionably obey their mother, father and daimyo. When they grew older they were trained by Zen Buddhist masters in meditation and the Zen concepts of impermanence and harmony with nature. The were also taught about painting, calligraphy, nature poetry, mythological literature, flower arranging, and the tea ceremony.

As part of their military training, it was said, that samurai were taught to sleep with their right arm underneath them so if they were attacked in the middle of the night and their the left arm was cut off the could still fight with their right arm. Samurai that tossed and turned at night were cured of the habit by having two knives placed on either side of their pillow. It seems somewhat extreme, but not entirely impossible.

Samurai have been describes as "the most strictly trained human instruments of war to have existed." They were expected to be proficient in the martial arts of aikido and kendo as well as swordsmanship and archery---the traditional methods of samurai warfare---which were viewed not so much as skills but as art forms that flowed from natural forces that harmonized with nature.
An individual didn't become a full-fledged samurai until he wandered around the countryside as begging pilgrim for a couple of years to learn humility. When this was completed they achieved samurai status and receives a salary from his daimyo paid from taxes (usually rice) raised from the local populace. Swords in Japan have long been symbols of power and honour and seen as works of art. Often times swordsmiths were more famous than the people who used them. Overall 40 inches long, blade 28.5 inches long tsuba to tip We can arrange a quote and time scale for re-polishing the blade.

Code: 23279

6950.00 GBP


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A Shinto Aikuchi Tanto, Unokubi-Zukuri with Hi Blade & Insect Engraving

Circa 1700. A very attractive Samurai tanto that has lain untouched for likely 140 odd years or more. All matching and most attractive Edo period bi-colour hand carved shakudo fittings, including a kozuka, engraved with a preying mantis, a wasp on the kashira and a grasshopper on the sayajiri. The menuki are of fine gold overlay of dragon, and the tsuka has imperial off-white silk binding. The blade is in a unokubi-zukuri form similar to naga nata in original polish. The original Edo lacquer saya is uniformly ribbed along it's length with small areas of cracking. Silvered habaki. Blade is in its original antique polish with minuscule edge nicks. The tanto is commonly referred to as a knife or dagger. The blade can be single or double edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi. Tanto were mostly carried by samurai, as commoners did not generally wear them. A picture in the gallery of General Akashi Gidayu writing his death poem before committing Seppuku in 1582

Code: 23278

2650.00 GBP


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A Very Good Wakazashi Signed Soshu ju Tsunahiro Circa 1530

Beautifully wide and meaty blade by a great master smith of the Koto era. Superb original Edo lacquer ribbed saya and nice, subdued, iron fittings and tsuba. Dragon menuki. Blade in good old polish with a few finger marks and signs of combat use and wear. A stunning piece of most visually impressive stature.

Code: 19014

2950.00 GBP


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Katana Signed Tsuda Omni no Kami Sukenao 1688. A Simply Stunning Shinto Era Sword

A beautiful yet understated Katana bearing the name from the school of a great swordmaking family Signed Tsuda Omni no Kami Sukenao and dated 1688 on the nakago, with the last two kanji lacking due to shortening. A simply wonderful sword bearing the name of the adopted son of another great smith. But it is not the name it bears that makes its value but its beauty and quality. The saya is a black kanshitsu ishime nuri lacquer and a superb crayfish form iron sayajiri [scabbard bottom mount]. Osukashi pierced iron tsuba, and varjira menuki. Beautiful polish blade showing an undulating notare hamon. Sukenao served his apprenticeship in the workshop of Sukehiro I, and soon became the student of Sukehiro II. Sukehiro II, recognizing Sukenao's extraordinary talent, placed him in the position of foremost student. Sukehiro II had other students: Hiromasa, Suketaka, and Sukemune, to name a few. However, Sukenao was the only one who was able to step forth from the aura of fame surrounding his sensei, and be recognized for his own ability. It was during these years that he presumably married the young sister of Sukehiro II. It is also apparent that he was regarded as more of a son than a son-in-law, thus the theory was formed that he may have been the adopted son of Sukehiro I. Sukenao used the surname of Sukehiro "Tsuda," indicating a very close bond between them. 40 inches long overall, blade 27.5 inches long tsuba to tip

Code: 19567

8950.00 GBP


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A Superlative and Beautiful Koto Katana Circa 1500

A superb ancient samurai sword that would grace any fine collection of oriental art or compliment any residence albeit traditional or contemporary decorated. The classical beauty of samurai swords is remarkable, in that there is barely any kind of d?cor that is not improved with their addition. With fine Soten mounts of pure gold ponies grazing in a meadow and an iron and gold inlaid Soten sukashi tsuba depicting mandarin and companion crossing a bridge with a warrior guard armed with a polearm. Blade with a fine sugaha straight hamon in original Edo polish. Fine black silk wrap covering menuki of long. Fine black Edo lacquer saya with sageo of gold and brown woven silk. Of all the weapons that man has developed since our earliest days, few evoke such fascination as the samurai sword of Japan. To many of us in the, the movie image of the samurai in his fantastic armour, galloping into battle on his horse, his colourful personal flag, or sashimono, whipping in the wind on his back, has become the very symbol of Japan, the Empire of the Rising Sun. And, truly, to the samurai of real life, nothing embodied his warrior?s code of Bushido more than his sword, considered inseparable from his soul.

Indeed, a sword was considered such a crucial part of a samurai?s life that when a young samurai was about to be born, a sword was brought into the bedchamber during the delivery. When the time came for an old samurai to die ? and cross over into the ?White Jade Pavilion of the Afterlife? ? his honoured sword was placed by his side. Even after death, a daimyo, or nobleman, believed he could count on his samurai who had followed him into the next world to use their keen blades to guard him against any demons, just as they had wielded their trusty weapons to defend him against flesh-and-blood enemies in this life. In a samurai family the swords were so revered that they were passed down from generation to generation, from father to son. If the hilt or scabbard wore out or broke, new ones would be fashioned for the all-important blade. The hilt, the tsuba (hand guard), and the scabbard themselves were often great art objects, with fittings sometimes of gold or silver. The hilt and scabbard were created from the finest hand crafted materials by the greatest artisans that have ever lived. Often, too, they ?told? a story from Japanese myths. Magnificent specimens of Japanese swords can be seen today in the Tokugawa Art Museum?s collection in Nagoya, Japan. Overall 37.5 inches long in saya

Code: 19377

7995.00 GBP


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A Fabulous WW2 Officers Ancestral Sword For A Prestigous Clan Member Of The Toyatomi Clan

This is a stunningly presented beautiful ancestral officer's sword, in its later mounted Shingunto senior officer's mounts, and, complete with its blade's wooden bespoke storage mount [called a shirasaya]. Its final WW2 military mounting that the blade was fitted within, was bespoke amde for its last high ranking Japanese family owner serving his emperor, as a senior officer in the IJA in WW2. The blade is bearing the engraved name of Master Swordsmith, Hoki no kami Taira Ason Masayoshi. This antique ancestral bladed sword that was mounted for a superior officer who served in WW2, bearing his clan mon, a mon that is based upon the old pawlonia flower clan mon of the Great Toyotomi clan, the Goshichi no Kiri mon, meaning "Five Seven Paulownia", in silver on the hilt. However, this antique samurai blade, made in the 8th year in the reign of the Emperor Kansei, bears the name of a most prestigious maker, who ranks among the very best Japanese master sword smiths seen in Europe today. One of the two Master Shinshinto smiths of Satsuma. His blades have attained some of the highest recognition by shinsa Japanese sword expert appraisal committee, and can be extremely valuable indeed if by the master himself. This is a perfect opportunity to 'potentially' obtain one of this highest ranking shinto smith's 'school or pupil's swords' that can be seen outside of Japan. A master smith, personally ranked in Hawley at 75 points. The very highest grade over 75 points never or very rarely ever leave Japan. Masayoshi was born in 1733. According to Fred Weissberg; "He was the son of the second generation Masayoshi (the character for "Yoshi" is different). Masayoshi's family name was Ichiji and he had three first names, Jiemon, Kakazo, and Shoei. Masayoshi was employed by the Satsuma clan and used the inscription, "Satsuma Kanko", in his signature in 1793. This means official smith of the Satsuma clan.

He received the title, "Hoki no Kami", at the same time as the other famous Satsuma smith, Motohira. From that time on, Masayoshi changed the character, "Yoshi", used in his name to another character with the same pronunciation. The last dated blades made by this smith were made in Bunka 14 (1817). He died in 1818 at the age of 86.

Masayoshi was one of the two master smiths of Satsuma in Shinshinto times. It is said that more than forty students studied under him. The school includes his son, Masakuni, and Yoshimoto. In this school the characters, "Yoshi"or "Masa" are commonly used by students as part of their smith names. Originally the paulownia crest was the coat of arms used by the Emperor family. That imperial government…, the Meiji era at that time used up paulownia crests, and the customs continue to this day. This clan mon was of Toyotomi Hideyoshi ( March 17, 1537 – September 18, 1598) who was a preeminent daimyo, warrior, general, samurai, and politician of the Sengoku period who is regarded as Japan's second "great unifier". He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and brought an end to the Sengoku period. The period of his rule is often called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi's castle. After his death, his young son Hideyori was displaced by Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Hideyoshi is noted for a number of cultural legacies, including the restriction that only members of the samurai class could bear arms. He financed the construction, restoration and rebuilding of many temples standing today in Kyoto.
He is also known for ordering the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598).
When the Western army of Toyotomi was defeated in the Battle of Sekigahara , many of the Toyotomi family and retainers were relegated to Satsuma and Choshu. The mon was later adopted by the Imperial Japanese Government mon. 38 inches long overall in shira saya, blade 27.5 inches long. Out of interest, a blade officially confirmed by Japanese shinsa as actually by Hoki no kami Taira Ason Masayoshi are now selling in Japan from £15,000 to £20,000, thus we are certainly not stating it is by the master personally, but possibly by his school or maybe pupil, but it is an interesting point.

Code: 23266

5950.00 GBP


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A Beautiful Samurai Shinto Kirin Based Tanto Signed Echizen Ju Yasutsugu

With an armour or even helmet piercing blade. The whole tanto is completely remarkable in that it is likely to have been completely untouched since the day it was made, it has all its original fittings from the Edo period including the tsukaito wrap on the hilt and the lacquer on the saya, the Saya is decorated with a stylised Kilin to match the fittings, the blade is grey but shows fabulous deep choji hamon, this is a truly exceptional tanto , used for over a century but likely completely untouched to change or restore since the mid 18th century. The blade is extra thick at the base and shows its penetrating qualities and ability to cut through metal armour or even the iron plates of a helmet, this is a beautiful and remarkable tango. The fushigashira mounts are pure gold over shakudo of Kirin or Qilin, in deep takebori relief carving. The menuki are also Kirin, of shakedown inlaid with swirls of pure gold. The Kirin in Japanese, qilin (in Chinese: 麒麟; pinyin: qílín) is a mythical hooved chimerical creature known in Chinese and other East Asian cultures, said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a sage or illustrious ruler. It is a good omen thought to occasion prosperity or serenity. It is often depicted with what looks like fire all over its body. It is sometimes called the “Chinese unicorn” when compared with the Western unicorn. The Japanese kirin looked more like the Sin-you lion-like beast. Some later Japanese netsuke portray a Kirin that has wings that look like the Central Asian winged horse with horns or the Sphinx. Or they become increasingly dragon-like like Chinese Qilins.
The Kirin / Qilin can sometimes be depicted as having a single horn as in the Western tradition, or as having two horns. In modern Chinese the word for “unicorn” is 独角兽 “du jiao shou”, and a Qilin that is depicted as a unicorn, or 1-horned, is called “Du jiao Qilin” 独角麒麟 meaning “1-horned Qilin” or “Unicorn Qilin”. However, there are several kinds of Chinese mythical creatures which also are unicorns, not just Qilin. Qilin generally have Chinese dragon-like features.
Most notably their heads, eyes with thick eyelashes, manes that always flow upward and beards. The bodies are fully or partially scaled, though often shaped like an ox, deer or horse’s, and always with cloven hooves. In modern times, the depictions of Qilin have often fused with the Western concept of unicorns.
In legend, the Qilin became dragon-like and then tiger-like after their disappearance in East Asia and finally a stylised representation of the giraffe in Ming Dynasty. The identification of the Qilin with giraffes began after Zheng's voyage to East Africa according to recent scholarship. The modern Japanese word for giraffe is also kirin, which bears the same derived ideas. Shakudo is a billon of gold and copper (typically 4-10% gold, 96-90% copper) which can be treated to form an indigo/black patina resembling lacquer. Unpatinated shakudo Visually resembles bronze; the dark color is induced by applying and heating rokusho, a special patination formula.

Shakudo Was historically used in Japan to construct or decorate katana fittings such as tsuba, menuki, and kozuka; as well as other small ornaments. When it was introduced to the West in the mid-19th century, it was thought to be previously unknown outside Asia, but recent studies have suggested close similarities to certain decorative alloys used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

Code: 23261

3995.00 GBP


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Japanese WW2 Signed Shingunto Officer's Katana

A superb condition sword, signed blade [possibly Nobuhide], just returned from being professionally 'artisan' cleaned, [but importantly not restored]. So it now looks just as it was when it was captured in WW2 by a British officer in 1945. Just a little discolouration to one side of the kabutogane. You might never be able to find a better condition original regulation Shingunto Japanese officer's sword from WW2. Surrendered in Burma to an officer in the South Wales Borderers. We had his sergeant's Japanese surrendered sword last month. The 6th Battalion, South Wales Borders served in the Burma Campaign with the 72nd Infantry Brigade, 36th British Infantry Division, previously a division of the British Indian Army before being re-designated the 36th British Division. The division was initially in reserve for the Second Arakan campaign in early 1944, but was called on to relieve the besieged 7th Indian infantry Division after early setbacks. After the Japanese were defeated at the Battle of Ngakyedauk, 7th Division was withdrawn and 36th Division took over the offensive in the Kalapanzin River Valley. Units of the division captured the vital eastern railway tunnel linking the Kalapanzin valley with the port of Maungdaw.

The division withdrew for a brief rest at Shillong in Assam, and was then despatched to Ledo, where it came under command of the American-led Northern Combat Area Command.
Early in July 1944, the division started to fly into Myitkyina airfield in North Burma, with 72nd Brigade being the first formation to land. On 1 September 1944, shortly after the division had started advancing down the "Railway valley" from Mogaung towards Indaw on the right flank of NCAC, the division was renamed the British 36th Division. On 14 December, a third brigade was added to the division; confusingly, this was the first Indian formation that the division commanded (the 26th Indian Infantry Brigade, of one British and two Indian battalions).

The division was distinguished for being the only British division to rely entirely on air supply, mainly by the United States' Tenth Air Force, for an extended period. The United States Army Air Force also provided the division with 12 light aircraft equipped for casualty evacuation and a US Army engineer company to construct its airstrips. Initially, the division was without its own divisional artillery and instead relied on a Chinese artillery group under US command.
The division, having linked up with the main body of Lieutenant General William "Bill" Slim's British Fourteenth Army, crossed the Irrawaddy River and advanced independently down the eastern side of the river. Units from the division suffered losses forcing the crossing the 300 yard wide Shweli River, but the division continued to advance until the fall of Mandalay in March 1945.

Code: 23259

1395.00 GBP


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