Re: Of daggers and swords.
- --- In email@example.com, Alexander Julius Cantella
> First, if i were to purchase a Katana set, would it be dishonorableto use the
> tanto as a standard sca dagger(ie cutting cheese)?Probably. In shinto, the sword is a revered object, and there is a
whole set of etiquette for picking it up etc. Besides, cheese would
stain and muck up a blade!
A tanto or short sword commonly included a little utility knife:
kozuka and metal skewer: kogai for things like that. Found in
little side slot on the saya. Probably not found on a cheaper
> and second does anyone know what time period the shirasaya typeswords are
> from?By shirasaya, you mean the plain wood storage scabbard? I think it
was developed in Edo times, postperiod, though can't remember where I
- On Wed, 2 Jun 2004, DP Gregersen wrote:
> Probably. In shinto, the sword is a revered object, and there is aThe latter point is well taken: if you are going to get yourself daisho
> whole set of etiquette for picking it up etc. Besides, cheese would
> stain and muck up a blade!
[daishou] (long and short) and tanto [tantou] (dagger) then you are
probably looking at something decent, I would hope (I haven't seen as big
a market for cheap tantou as I have for cheap daishou). What kind of
cleaning are you willing to do to keep it clean?
Best to get a nice, stainless steel knife, or at least one made
specifically for food use. It would be appropriate to get a small sheath
> A tanto or short sword commonly included a little utility knife:Anyone know when this fad started? I can't think of any pre-Edo blades
> kozuka and metal skewer: kogai for things like that. Found in
> little side slot on the saya. Probably not found on a cheaper
> repro though
I've seen with these kinds of acoutrements, but that doesn't mean they
- ... and second does anyone know what time period the shirasaya type swords are from?
Shirasaya (if you are thinking of the plain wood mountings) are supposed to be for swords that have not yet been mounted--it's a temporary mounting until the other fittings are put on. If you mean the 'disguised' katana that are supposed to look like bokuto or walking sticks, then I think that it is an Edo or later practice.
Shirasaya as you see them these days are a post period construction. The period ones were not as pretty and are refered to as (I'm not going to dig out the books and look up the translations) "oil sabbards" and "resting scabbards" these were used when swords were stored in treasurehouses for long periods of time, and when they were dedicated to temples. (and then stored in temple treasure houses for long periods of time) Occasionally since blades were given as gifts for different reasons, they would be presented in these resting scabbards. Often since it was a not uncommon practice to present "great blades" to the shogun upon his accension, these would contain fake masamunes or other forgeries. It was the thought and observance of tradition that was importaint, not if it was an actual sword by a famous smith. Frequently in the Muromachi period these would be presented in the resting scabbards because it was easy to antique the wood to look 300-400 years old, but much more difficult and costly to do a full mounting that looked antique.
To my knowledge I have never seen or heard of a shirasaya mounted sword being carried, about the closest are tantos and wakizashi that are essentialy shirasaya that have been lacquered. The tanto, and small ones at that, were carried by women. And the Flute playing and basket wearing monks (I forget the name of the sect) carried wakizashi in a cloth bag through there belt which were known to be very simple fittings.
Honoki wood, the wood used to make sheaths is very soft, and also can suck up moisture fairly easily. It is used because it is fine grained, cuts cleanly, and the fibers do not carry an acid that will attack steel. Also the fibers are soft enough not to scratch or dull the blade. Knowing those properties honoki (tulip poplar, actualy of the magnolia family) is either encased in metal, leather or heavily lacquerd to prevent a carried sword and it's sheath from damage and water.
As for the whole, walking stick sword idea. Prior to Hideyoshi enacting his ordanances on the populous and having the "great sword hunt" A farmer or artisan could wear a katana, some did. Prior to this there was no reason to conceal a weapon, it was not illegal. (Though some local lords did try to disarm the populous at a local level to reduce revolts and banditry) Hideyoshi's idea of a disarmed populous was carried forward by the Tokugawa Shogunate who enacted stricter and more formalized and clairified laws. It even went so far that they restricted the length of the katana and it's tsuka length for the samurai class. Maybe there are Edo period (post 1600) examples of the famous walking stick sword, however they are more than likely of poor manufacture, after all good swordsmiths what there work out were people can see it. Also with the cost of producing a blade, the people who could afford them (samurai, and some merchants) either didn;t need to hide them, or in the case of the merchants had enough clout to get permission to carry them. Where most of the examples coem from is the Meiji Era (1868) When the wearing of swords was outlawed for everyone and the samurai class was abolished.
Alot of samurai did not want to go around unarmed, because for a short time known samurai who were not part of the new government were harrased and humiliated (if not beaten) because the populace was more than a little ticked over, what, 800 years of often brutal repression....
I reccomend if you are doing a samurai class persona, you invest in a good serviceable daisho. check with the various internet vendors, a good start would be the Cas Iberia/Hanwei Practical Katana and Practical Wakizashi. You might be able to pick up the whole set and a stand for under $400.00 They are not flawless, but they are carbon steel, the right shape and pass the 2 foot rule hands down. They are also one of the most common forms you encounter.
Long reply I know, but wanted to help explain why shirasaya just were not carried in period or beyond.
Takeda Sanjuichiro Akimasa