Q551. Katana Papered to Monju: Die To Achieve Virtue


Q551.  O-suriage katana with Hozon paper from the NBTHK in Tokyo, dated 1994 and giving the blade to Monju.

Nagasa:  26 1/8″  66.2 cm.

Sori:  .9 cm.

Moto haba:  3 cm.

Moto kasane:  .9 cm.

Saki haba:  2 cm.

Saki kasane:  .5 cm.

Nakago nagasa:  6 3/4″  17.1 cm.

Overall in koshirae:  40 1/8″  102 cm.

Shinogi zukuri, iore mune, chu kissaki, koshi zori. The hada is ko itame in the finest of ji-nie. The hamon is suguba: a bright and consistent nioi guchi covered in ko-nie. This continues on into the boshi which ends in ko-maru and a medium length kaeri. The blade is in a professional grade polish, not scratched or stained, and flawless. There is a gold foil habaki in great condition.

The koshirae is complete, good quality, and also in fine condition. The saya is black lacquer with horn kojiri, kurikata, and koi guchi. I see only one tiny chip in the lacquer, down next to the kojiri. The tsuba is iron with a touch of gold inlay. The fuchi kashira are quite impressive: shakudo with finest nanako in a checker board pattern alternating between cherry blossoms and pine needles/cones. Menuki are jet black shakudo with gold. The white tsuka-ito is intact and clean.

There is a kiritsuke mei (inscription on a shortened sword), which is noted on the paper. I asked on Nihonto Message Board for help in reading this. At first I got a translation of the mei as written on the paper: The power to assume responsibility for murder.Then Moriyama-san wrote in to let us know that the paper is incorrect. The kiritsuke mei reads: 殺身成仁 (Mi o koroshite jin o nasu) – Die to achieve virtue. As this makes better sense I will go with it. Here is the thread on NMB in case anything is added after I list this sword: https://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/topic/37813-help-please-with-monju-katana/

Monju refers to the family of smiths who descended from 1st generation Nanki Shigekuni, a very important smith from earliest Shinto (17th century). It is my understanding that an attribution of Monju by the NBTHK is meant to give the work to the 2nd generation Shigekuni. There were, however, many generations. While I can’t state with certainty which this is, I can tell you it is fine work and deserves to sell quickly. 3 pounds, 9 ounces.  $3,495.

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