10.3.22 fred@nihonto.com

The tachi presented here is a rare example of this period because it still retains its signature.  This blade is signed with the two character signature, Morishige.  Morishige was a smith of the Omiya Bizen school who worked near the end of the Nanbokuchô Era around 1368 and was a student of Morikage.

The founder of the Bizen Ômiya (備前大宮) School is generally thought to have been Kunimori (国盛).  He was active around the Bun-ô (文應) era or 1260 during the Kamakura period.  One theory says that he came from Inokuma Taigû a shrine in the Ômiya district of the Yamashiro Province, thus giving this school its name.  Another theory says that he went to the Ômiya district of Bizen, hence the name Ômiya School.  Whatever the reason, since works by the Kamakura smiths of this school are non-existent, the swords we today attribute to the Ômiya school date from the Nanbokucho era.  Because they were made of exceptional length, most are mumei, ôsuriage today.

Kunimori (国盛) was followed by smiths such as Sukemori (助盛), Moritoshi (盛利), Morikage (盛景), Moritsugu (盛継),Morokage (師景), Morishige (盛重), Moritsune (盛恒), and others using the Moro (師) and Mori (盛) kanji characters.  Most of the unsigned swords existing today that are attributed to a specific smith (rather than just to Den Omiya) are attributed to Morishige (盛重), Morikage (盛景) and Morokage (師景).

Some general characteristics of the Omiya Bizen school of the Nanbokuchô Era are as follows:

Sugata:                        Blades have a sugata that is typical of the Nanbokucho period.  They are long, wide and thick with iroi-mune and the shinogi-haba is narrow. There will be very little narrowing between the width at the hamachi and at the yokote. Some have slightly extended kissaki and others have an ô -kissaki. The kasane will be relatively thick. The sori will be koshi-zori and they will have a very powerful feeling.

Jitetsu:                         The kitae is ko-itame mixed with ko-mokume will be relatively tight but there will be areas of ô-hada here and there. There is ample ji-nie throughout the hada forming areas of small tobiyaki.  There will be an overall coarse feel to the ji-hada when compared to the works of the Kanemitsu.  Midareutsuri is often.

Hamon:                       The hamon will be nioi based, as is the case with Bizen works.  Ji-nie will be present   The hamonwill usually be mainly notare based with a mixing in of gunome and/or ko-chôji gokoro and a midare-ba that has flamboyant variations.   There will be ashi, , and sunagashi in the ko-niestructure.

Bôshi:                          Most works will have a bôshi that is boldly formed with a long kaeri combining notare-komi and a pointed tip.  Occasionally, hakikake bôshi will be found.

Nakago:                       The chiseling style of this smith differs from that of the Osafune mainline smiths’ in that the horizontal strokes start from the opposite end.  This technique is called gyaku-tagane.  This style of chiseling is also found in the works of Chikakage (近景) and Yoshikage (義景) who worked in the beginning and middle of the Nanbokucho Era. This would tend to indicate the possibility that Morikage (盛景) was influenced by this same line or offshoot of the Osafune School.  The tip of the nakago will be kurijiri and the yasurimei will be kiri or katte-sagari.

Horimono:                   Maru-dome bô-hi will be found as will soe-hi and futatsu-hi.  There are also blades with Sanskrit bonji and sanko-tsuka-ken.

 As noted earlier, the blade presented here is unusual in that although it has been shortened, it still retains its original signature of Morishige (盛重).   Even though this blade is suriage and machi-okuri, it is wide, has a deep koshisori and an extended kissaki, all traits of the Nanbokuchô Era.  The NBTHK places this blade as being from the late Nanbokuchô era around the Ôan period (1368-1375).

The blade has a nagasa (length) of about 28 inches or 71.1 cm.  The width at the hamachi is 1.14 inches or 2.91 cm and the width at the kissaki is 0.73 inches or 1.86 cm.  The deep koshi-sori (curvature) is 0.94 inches or 2.4 cm.  The kasanehas a thickness of 0.22 inches or 0.57 cm.

The jigane (grain) is a combination of ko-mokume hada and ko-itame hada with some areas of o-hada. There is clear utsuri throughout the blade.  Ji-nie crystals can be found throughout the blade.  There are a few areas of minute hada openings  which are the result of its many polishes over its long lifetime of over 650 years.  These do not detract from the beauty of the blade and are not considered to be flaws.   In fact, they resemble the stars in the evening sky.  The hamon is nioi deki and forms a pattern of midare and gunome midare with nice ashi formations.  The kissaki is extended and the bôshi is nie-kuzure with a moderate turnback.

This sword comes with a nice Edo period koshirae.  The saya (scabbard) is lacquered black with a matsuba pattern.  The tsuba is done in openwork with the design of a stylized crane.  The fuchi/kashira are done in shakudo depicting Samurai fighting devils.  These figures are done in gold, silver, and copper.  The menuki are made of copper and gold on shakudoand depict brooms.  All and all it is a very nice Samurai koshirae in very good condition.

The blade comes in a shirasaya with a gold foil double habaki.  The sword was awarded NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon papers of authenticity certifying its quality, condition, and the validity of the signature.  Signed blades from the Nanbokuchô era are becoming very difficult to find.