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Mumei child's katana, attributed to Hichibei Sukesada

Blade:

Period: Probably 1615-1644.

Mei: Mumei. The sayagaki says Bizen ju Osafune Hichibei (no) jo Sukesada.

Sugata: Shinogi-zukuri, tori-zori, iori-mune.

Overall length: 22.28 inches (566.00 mm)

Nagasa: 18.35 inches (466.00 cm) long.

Nakago: Ubu, 3.94 inches (100.00 mm), ha agari nakago-jiri, one mekugi-ana. The yasurime are pretty indistint due to patination. 

Kissaki: Chu-kissaki, 1.16 inches (29.50 mm). The boshi is difficult to see, but looks to be ko-maru.

Moto-haba: 0.86 inches (21.80 mm). Moto-gasane: 0.20 inches (5.20 mm). Saki-haba: 0.58 inches (14.70 mm). Saki-gasane: 0.17 inches (4.20 mm). 

Sori: 0.44 inches (11.30 mm)

Hamon: Slightly undulating suguha, becoming notare at monouchi.

Hada: 

Blade condition: 

In recent polish. No flaws, ware, hagirae or bends.

Mounts:

In shirasaya with sayagaki; see pictures.

Comments:

The technical term for this is mamorigatana (‘self defence sword’). It isn't a toy sword, a model, or even a wakizashi. It is a fully functional miniature katana, made by a swordsmith, with hamon and hada. To judge from its size, it was made for a 7 year old; it is ridiculously small for an adult. Samurai boys were given a mamorigatana at about the age of 7 as their first real sword, and were expected to defend themselves with it if need be. As they grew, they were given bigger swords to carry and with which to practice. By the time they reached adulthood they were very proficient in using a sword because they had been training constantly in their use from a very young age.

A modern analogy would be children using half-size and three-quarter size guitars on which to learn.

Although these sort of swords are often referred to as Boy's Day swords, this is a misnomer. The tradition of children wearing swords for the Boy's Day festival didn't start until the Meiji period. This sword predates the start of the Boy's Day tradition by about two hundred years.

The sayagaki attributes the blade to the Hichibei (no) jo Sukesada. There were a number of smiths who might be described this way. However, having asked advice, the suggestion is that it is the work of the fifth generation Sukesada, Hichibeijo (Hawley SUK 887, 60 points; Toko Taikan 333, 3.5M yen; Fujishiro S485, Jo saku; floruit 1615-1644). It would, of course, have to be submitted to shinsa to confirm this.



Although these sort of swords are often referred to as Boy's Day swords, this is a misnomer. The tradition of children wearing swords for the Boy's Day festival didn't start until the Meiji period. This sword predates the start of the Boy's Day tradition by about two hundred years.

The sayagaki attributes the blade to the Hichibei (no) jo Sukesada. There were a number of smiths who might be described this way. However, having asked advice, the suggestion is that it is the work of the fifth generation Sukesada, Hichibeijo (Hawley SUK 887, 60 points; Toko Taikan 333, 3.5M yen; Fujishiro S485, Jo saku; floruit 1615-1644). It would, of course, have to be submitted to shinsa to confirm this.

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