iToken Bijutsu No.572j

 

Nihon Koto Shi

(History of Koto)

 

By Dr. Honma Junji

 

 (24)

 

(P.21)

17. Kunimune School

 

Smiths of this school also lived in Osafune but they were from a different lineage to Mitsutada and his school. Swordsmith directories say that Kunimune lived in the Joei and Ninji Eras (1232-1243) but it is speculated that he was active at the same time as Mitsutada and Moriie, inferring from his extant works. fKanchi In Bonf already calls him eBizen Saburof since he was the third son of Kunizane. eKokon Mei Zukushif lists the smiths of the school as Naomune, 1st Kunizane, 2nd Kunizane (first son of 1st Kunizane), Kunisada (second son of Kunizane), Kunimune (third son of Kunizane) and Kuniyasu (fourth son of Kunizane). We can see extant works of Kunimune and Kunisada but none from the other smiths of this school. Kunimune left a certain number of tachi and there appear to be two generation of Kunimune inferring from the workmanship of the extant works. As their mei are signed in similar styles it is very difficult to differentiate the first from the second generation. Gorgeous choji-midare, that was in fashion in the middle of the Kamakura Period, was on the wane toward the end of the Kamakura Period when hamon became a mix of togari-ba and gunome in addition to sugu-ha. This phenomenon is also seen in the Ichimonji and Osafune schools. According to this theory, it becomes possible to make three periodic groups as follows; the first group (Mitsutada, 1st Moriie and 1st Kunimune), the second group (Nagamitsu, 2nd Moriie and 2nd Kunimune), and the third group (2nd Nagamitsu and Kagemitsu, 3rd Moriie, and 3rd Kunimune). A tachi with a date of the Showa and the mei eBizen no Kuni Osafune Ju Kunimunef is speculated to be a work of the second or third generation, meanwhile a tachi with dates of the Kagen and Tokuji and the mei eNakahara Kunimunef may be a student of 1st or 2nd Kunimune. It is a common view that eNakaharaf is the name of a place located in Mikawa Province but there is also another theory that it is the family name of Kunimune and I prefer the latter to the former theory. In addition, eKanchi In Bonf says that Shintogo Kunimitsu was a student of Kunimune but I donft accept this theory because of their periodic invalidity and there are no points in common in their workmanship. There are a few extant tachi by Hoki Kunimune with a mei in two characters. Their hamon and mei are similar to those of Bizen Saburo Kunimune but nie is more emphasised. Incidentally this smith never signs his mei like eHoki Kunimunef.

 

Kunimune tempers choji-midare in irregular width and it occasionally consists of thick nioi and nie then mixes large gunome. His boshi becomes o-maru when he tempers sugu-ha. He also tempers gorgeous choji-midare that has a close resemblance to that of Moriie.

 

(Reference oshigata)

gTOKUJI 3 NEN YAYOI HI  NAKAHARA KUNIMUNEh

gKUNIMUNEh

 

(P.22)

Jiro Kunisada was an elder brother of Kunimune and there is only one extant tachi existing. The jihada of the tachi is more dense than that of Kunimune and the hamon is choji in a small pattern then the mei is signed in a little thin chiselling. He is a little inferior to Kunimune in skill.

 

(Reference photos)

Kokuho : Tachi Mei gKUNIMUNEh (Owned by the Terukuni Shrine)

 

(P.23)

18. Other Osafune Smiths

 

I have described smiths who belonged to major schools in Osafune. In addition, there are other smiths who lived in Osafune but whose lineage are uncertain, that is to say, Sanetoshi, Masanaga, Yasuhiro, etc.  One theory says that Sanetoshi belongs to the lineage of Ichimonji Norifusa. Sanetoshi tempers choji-midare, meanwhile Masanaga and Yasuhiro temper sugu-ha mixed with ko-midare.

 

(Reference photos and oshigata)

Kokuho : Tachi Mei gKUNIMUNEh

 

              gKUNISADAh

 

(P.24)

(Reference photos)

Tachi Mei gKUNIMUNE BIZEN (NO) KUNI JU OSAFUNE SHOWA (the following

characters were lost after suriage)h

(Owned by the Tokyo National Museum)

 

19. Ukai Smiths

 

Three major lineages of Mitsutada, Moriie and Kunimune existed in Osafune and they demonstrated similar workmanship. Smiths who lived in Ukai of Bizen Province and were active between the mid Kamakura and the Nambokucho Periods, demonstrated a different workmanship from other Osafune smiths. A smith called Unjo is said to be Unshofs father and the founder of the school but there is no extant work or oshigata of him. There are a certain number of extant works of Unsho, Unji and Unju, also their second and third generations have been confirmed. Unji left extant works with the dates of Showa 4 and Kenmu 2, Unju left ones with dates of the Bunwa and Joji Eras, and Unsho left ones with the date of Kengen 2. eShinto Koto Taikanf by Kawaguchi Wataru lists an oshigata with the inscription of eBizen no Kuni Ukai Go Junin Unsho Saku 65 Saif eKagen ( ? ) Nen 10 Gatsu 15 Nichif. According to these extant works, 1st Unsho was active around the Bun-ei Era then Unji with dates of the Showa and Kenmu, and Unju with dates of the Bunwa and Joji are the works of their first generations. They demonstrates two different workmanships; one is that jihada is itame-hada combined with conspicuous mokume, hamon is sugu-ha mixed with ko-midare in a slanted pattern and nioi-deki accompanied with nie then sunagashi are seen inside the hamon, and other is that jihada is dense ko-itame-hada with thick ji-nie and clear utsuri then hamon consists of tight nioi. In any case, they look like Yamashiro or Aoe swords at a glance. It is said that Unsho used a smith name of eKunitomof and Unji eKuniyoshif in their early years, afterward they made a tachi for Emperor Godaigo then the emperor gave them the smith names of Unsho and Unji in return for their services, but this story should no be justified considering their active ages. A swordsmith directory eHaya Midashi list an oshigata with the mei of eHeianjo Unjuf and a date of the Joji Era. This oshigata suggests to us that one of his later generations moved to Kyoto and engaged in sword forging there.

 

(P.25)

(Reference oshigata)

gBIZEN (NO) KUNI JU UNJIh    gBIZEN (NO) KUNI JU UNJUh

 

                 gUNSHOh     gBIZEN (NO) KUNI UKAI JU UNSHOh

 

(P.26)

Incidentally, I have seen two tachi with the inscription of eBizen no Kuni Ju Moritsuguf and they appear to belong to the Ukai school inferring from their workmanships and chiselling styles. eHaya Midashif says that they were active in The Rekio Era as was the 1st Unji.

 

(Reference oshigata and photos)

gBIZEN (NO) KUNI JU MORITSUGUh

 

                   Juyo Bunka Zai : Tachi Mei gUNSHOh

                   (Owned by the Tokyo National Museum)

 

(P.27)

(Reference photos)

Juyo Bunka Zai : Tachi Mei gBIZEN (NO) KUNI JUNIN UNJIh

                          gSHOWA 4 NEN 10 GATSU HIh

(Owned by the NBTHK)