The daisho of swords and koshirae presented here for sale is an opportunity to own a true daisho where both the blades are made by the same smith and their koshirae is a true daisho koshirae, just as it was worn by its last Samurai owner in the 1800’s.
Ômi no Kami Sukenao (近江守助直)was born in the sixteenth year of Kan’ei (1639) in Takagi of Ômi Province. His given name was Magodayu. He is known to have been productive until the sixth year of Genroku (1693) when he was fifty-five years of age. This is about the time that he is considered to have passed away.
It is said that he entered the Mon (sword making family) of Echizen no Kami Sukehiro and later married his younger sister. Sukehiro is considered to be one of the foremost sword makers of the Shintô era. By way of marrying Sukehiro’s younger sister, he became either his master’s adopted son or brother-in-law.
The earliest date known of Sukenao’s dated works is the eighth year of Kanbun (1668) and his mei on his early works of katana and wakizashi read Ômi no Kami Sukenao (近江守助直). As for his titles, he first acquired the Ômi-daijô (近江大掾), later he acquired the title of Ômi-no-kami (近江守). He left a lot of dated works which allow us to trace his titles to probable dates. In other words, he was probably appointed to the title of Ômi-daijô either at the end of the eighth year of Kanbun (1668) or at the beginning of the ensuing year. Also we know that he soon was promoted to Ômi-no-kami either at the end of the ninth year of Kanbun (1669) or the beginning of the ensuing year.
Sukenao’s earliest work bearing the family name of Tsuda (津田) in his mei inscription appeared in the third year of Enpô (1675). It is probable that while Sukehiro was still active, Sukenao’s status was of constant commuting back and forth between Ômi and Ôsaka and it was after Sukehiro’s death that likely he settled in Ôsaka.
Sukenao’s workmanship is exclusively represented by katana and wakizashi, almost always in shinogi-zukuri shape. Generally speaking, his sori seems to be more notable that Sukehiro’s. The jigane is predominantly itame or ko-itame, and it is composed of admirably tight grain formations with many ji-nie yielding the clarity of the ji. On some blades it is almost as equally excellent as his master, Sukehiro’s, work. At the same time, quite a few other examples of his work display a rather loose-grained structure in hada-dachi-gokoro.
His hamon, like Sukehiro’s showed that he favored and was proficient in suguha, gunome-midare, and tôranba. Compared to his master’s works, however, his hamon sometimes contains fairly coarse nie as well as sunagashi. Unlike his master, Sujkenao appears to have made no works with a chôji-midare hamon. Also his bôshi tend to be of ordinary ko-maru shape, and his ha of a deep nioi nature with ko-nie sprinkled in a bright nioiguchi. As to the clarity of the nioiguchi, it on the average may not compare equally with that of Sukehiro’s, but in some individual instances it is comparable, if not better.
Horimono (carvings) are exceedingly exceptional in Sukenao’s blades. The shape of the nakago follows Sukehiro’s in that they are fairly long and end in a iriyama-gata shape. The yasurimei are ô-sujikai slanting and is done precisely and skillfully. The keshô-yasuri also is beautifully executed in perfect uniformity.
The style of Sukenao’s mei inscriptions varied remarkably from time to time. Of the characters constituting his signatures, those that most noticeably changed were the SUKE (助) and the NAO (直). The chiseling as a whole changed from the kaisho writing on the omote and the sôsho on the ura, used since the eighth year of Kanbun, until the first year of Tenna when it changed to sôsho style on both sides. It is particularly important to note that around the first year of Tenna the character NAO (直) began to take on a more stylized form which was kept in use until his very last year, the sixth year of Genroku.
The Dai (long sword) is signed Ômi (no) Kami Takagi Sukenao (近江守高木助直). It is dated on the ura Enpô Hachi Nen Hachi Gatsu (延宝八歳八月)August of 1680. This means that he was 41 years old when he made this sword. The prime of his sword making abilities.
The sugata of this blade is graceful with horimino in the form of naginata hi and an extended bôshi. This elegant form compliments its shortening rather than having it detract from it.
The length of the cutting edge is 28.30 inches or 71.9 cm. The width at the hamachi is 1.25 inches or 3.2 cm and thekissaki-haba (width) is 0.94 inches or 2.4 cm. The sori (curvature) has been slightly reduced because the blade was shortened and is machi-okuri, but it is still a graceful shape with a sori of 0.78 inches or 2 cm. The kasane (thickness of the blade) is 0.31 inches or 0.8 cm.
The jitetsu (grain of the steel) is ko-itame with lots of ji-nie. It is a beautiful jigane. The hamon is done in nie-deki and is gunome-midare with a deep nioi-guchi presenting as a combination of toranba mixed with a peaked midare and gunome. Kinsuji and sunagashi are within the hamon.
The bôshi is of an extended length giving this blade an extra powerful presence. It becomes nijuba and ends with hakikake. As noted, the nakago has been shortened somewhat and the hamachi has been moved up a bit also. The signature is untouched and executed beautifully.
This blade was awarded a Tokubetsu Hozon certification despite its shortening. This goes to show how highly respected this smith is and the high quality of this sword.
The matching Sho (short sword) is also signed Ômi (no) Kami Takagi Sukenao (近江守高木助直). It is not dated but was probably made about the same time as the long sword since it is signed with the exact same signature.
The length of the cutting edge is 21.41 inches or 54.4 cm. The width at the hamachi is 1.14 inches or 2.9cm and the kissaki-haba (width) is 0.82 inches or 2.1 cm. The sori (curvature) has a graceful shape with a sori of 0.47 inches or 1.2 cm. The kasane (thickness of the blade) is 0.25 inches or 0.65 cm.
The jitetsu (grain of the steel) is ko-itame with lots of ji-nie. It is also a beautiful jigane. The hamon is done in nie-dekiand is a combination of suguha with a deep nioiguchi and gunome-midare. Kinsuji and sunagashi are within the hamon.
The bôshi is of a slightly extended length in keeping with the overall dimensions of the blade. It is round and ends with hakikake. The nakago is ubu (unshortened) with one mekugi-ana. The signature is executed beautifully.
The matching koshirae for these swords is very well done and in excellent condition. Both saya are a dark brown aogai-chirashi with silver koiguchi. On the katana saya is a copper carving of a devil mask and on the wakizashi saya is a copper carving of a Otafuku.
The menuki on both swords are matching shishi lions done in gold colored metal (probably copper). The fuchi and kashira on both swords are what can best be described as delicately carved golden minute bricks in an alternating pattern.
The two tsuba are matching, of course. They are sukashi tsuba with sparrows and bundles of rice delicately carved. The mimi (rim) is covered in gold treated metal. Both tsuka are wrapped in old, well used ito proving that these swords were owned and worn by a high ranking Samurai for some time during the Edo period. When you hold them, it is like you are shaking hands with their former Samurai owner. You can tell that they got a lot of use and yet were very well cared for over the years.
Both of these blades come in Shirasaya and are accompanied by NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon certifications attesting to their quality, condition, and authenticity.