by Jim Kurrasch
Another thing that John P. and I were discussing by E-mail, was boshi . His comment on lot # 777, the Heian tachi set me to thinking. He had rightly pointed out that it had a chû-kissaki, which is not right for it’s period. Well I started to add 2 + 2. In ‘Beginning Japanese Sword 1 & 2’ we learn that early tachi have a ko-kissaki . And that was changed about the time of the Mongolian Invasions. The story being that the ko-kissaki was not very good at cutting the leather armor that the Mongolians were using. And there was a problem when the tip was broken, leaving a useless sword.
But as we look deeper into this information we find that the chu-kissaki has been around for quite a while. In the Temple Museum on Ômishima just off Hiroshima one of the swords is a wakizashi that was made around 925 – 950 AD. One can not get very close to this blade since it is rightfully behind glass. But it tends to look just like any other average wakizashi that one sees, including chû-kissaki.
The ‘Osafune Sanemori’ Tachi (1264 – 1275) displayed in the April meeting has a chû-kissaki. The Museum of Fine Arts – Boston has a katana attributed to Yoshikane, in the Early Kamakura period, and described as having a ‘slightly larger than a small point’. In the former ‘Compton Collection’, there were 2 blades described as a ‘Fukuoka Ichimonji School Naginata-Naoshi Katana, circa 1250’ and they had very large points. Also the Compton Collection had a ‘Bitchu Ko-Aoe School Tachi – circa 1210’ with a chû-kissaki.
So what I am basically doing is stating that do not do what I was doing, and that was considering anything that did not have a ko-kissaki had to be after 1274, which was the year of the First Mongol Invasion. Always remember that there were occasional exceptions.
Also think about the definition of ‘Ko-kissaki’, many books just describe it as a small point. Well just what the *#@^%* does that mean? A better definition would use the width at the kissaki as a percentage of other measurements. This allows us to use exact measurements. But it does not take into account blades that have been altered by reshaping the point (see ‘Hints and Tips’ below), or moving up the habaki. Part of the May meeting was in general on various descriptions of the nihontô , including fumbari. I talked to Sam today and one of his current projects is on the terms used with sword collecting.