Shinshinto Katana by Yamato Daijyo Kunitake
I could find very little information regarding Kunitake and his lineage. One example of his mei is listed in the Shinshinto Taikan and notes that his pseudonym was Seiryushi and he worked in Edo. Another source notes his teacher as Kunihiko, but again, little is found regarding this smith either. My first impression of this work was that Kunitake might have be descended from, or somehow been associated with the Sendai Kunikane line. The blade is forged in Masame throughout its length in the old Yamato Hosho style for which Kunikane was both well respected and highly rated for. But again, I was not able to clearly connect Kunitake or Kunihiko to this line. The Shinshinto period gave rise to many very excellent smiths and even more that although skilled, never gained great notoriety in their own time. Clearly, Kunitake was quite competent and a smith of respectable caliber. Forging swords in pure masame can be a difficult task as kitaeware (forging gaps or “cold shuts”) are very difficult to avoid. Masame lends to a very aggressive edge though as the ranking of Kunikane as “Saijo Owazamono” (supreme sharpness) will attest.
This sword exhibits work in very similar style to Kunikane with interaction of masame hada and sugu hamon in fine niedeki creating many tiny threads of activity running along the habuchi and the boshi turns back in komaru with great amounts of hakkake (brush strokes). There is one spot of tobiyaki floating in the lower section of the sword. The yakiba has numerous ashi and yo inserted and a couple small areas of courser nie which are of interest. There is jinie and chikei. In swords of this type of hada, it is very easy to see if the tip has been drastically repaired as the hada will fail to follow the curvature of the hasaki in the tip if it has been pulled back. The tip of this blade is very healthy and shows excellent originality and health. It is also very stout in proportions and heavy in hand. Looking at the nakago, there is also two ana present which was an infrequent installation of a more “spirited” samurai who wanted a margin of additional security in his tsuka. Clearly it was made for serious intentions. The kissaki is in an extended chu size that many smiths favored in the Shinshinto era. There are no flaws in this sword either major or minor. There is one slightly course forging seam that travels with the masame hada on one side of the ji from monouchi into the kissaki. It should not be considered a flaw, does not overtly detract from the quality of the work, and is an acceptable characteristic of swords forged in this style.
The shirasaya is beautifully appointed with horn accents and carries sayagaki by Kanzan Sato in which he identifies the sword as the work of Yamato Daijyo Kunitake, it’s inscribed date, it’s measurements, the date he evaluated it and his signature which is effectively his testimony of the validity of the work and mei. The sword also carries Hozon level papers from the NBTHK attesting to the validity and quality of the work.
The mei reads Yamato Daijyo Kunitake, and is also dated Keio Ni Nen Hachi Gatsu Jitsu (a day in August, 1866). It should also be noted that an inscription adjacent to the mei has been removed from the nakago (and the accompanying papers clearly illustrate this), so this is not of any concern. The erased inscription likely identified the person who originally commissioned the work and was subsequently removed. This is occasionally seen when a subsequent owner doesn’t want someone else’s name on their sword, or the original owner doesn’t want their name on it outside their family or descendants. So it is and acceptable alteration and part of the history of the sword.
It is accompanied by contemporary koshirae utilizing antique fittings of dragons. Both the guilded menuki and shakudo fuchi kashira are highly detailed. The tsuba is iron plate with chrysanthemums inlayed.
This is a nice offering for the veteran or novice collector, but would truly be a good sword set for someone starting out in their serious study of Nihonto. It has quality, character, condition, comprehensive textbook study points, and has been vetted for authenticity by both a respected sword historian and a Japanese sword preservation organization. It holds the opportunity for much discovery and understanding that could provide a solid platform of continued and expanded study.
Nagasa: 26 ½ inches (67.4 cm)
Motohaba: 1 5/16 inches (3.35 cm)
Kasane: 5/16 inch (7.5 mm)
Offered on Consignment: SOLD