• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2028

    Japanese & Korean Art

    18 September 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 307

    A Bizen Katana


    Price Realised  


    A Bizen Katana
    Nanbokucho period (14th century), with gold-inlaid signature Bizen Kanemitsu and Hon'ami (Koson) and with kao
    Sugata [configuration]: hon-zukuri, iori-mune, torii-zori, wide mi-haba, extended kissaki
    Kitae [forging pattern]: running itame mixed with nashiji, some hada tachi in ji-nie with chikei and midare-utsuri Hamon [tempering pattern]: gunome, ko-gunome, kakubaru-ba and some togari-ba with ashi, yo, ko-nie, kin-suji, sunagashi with a bright nioi-guchi
    Boshi [tip]: notare komi, saki yaki-tsume fu
    Horimono [carving]: bo-hi on both sides
    Nakago [tang]: o-suriage, saki-giri with kiri file marks and two holes
    Habaki [collar]: two-piece, gold
    Nagasa [length from tip to beginning of tang]: 28in.(71.2cm.)
    In shirasaya [wood storage scabbard] with inscription by Tanobe Michihiro
    With certificate designating this sword as the 52nd Juyo token (Important sword) no. 3493 issued by the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (Society for the Japan Art Sword), dated 2006.10.12

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    O-Kanemitsu (Great Kanemitsu), as he is known, represented the mainstream of the Osafune school in Bizen Province following his father, Kagemitsu. His signed work dates from the 1st year of the Genko era in the late Kamakura period to swords made in the Joji era (1362-68) in the Nanbokucho period. His work from the early Nanbokucho period is substantially in the style of Kagemitsu, often with suguha or like this piece, kata-ochi-gunome. But from around the middle of his active period he produced 'o-dachi', long and broad with extended kissaki, and introduced the characteristic notare found on many of his later works.
    This blade has the classic Osafune characteristics, and is typical of middle Nanbokucho-period swords. Although o-suriage it retains a deep curve with an element of koshi-zori.
    The attribution to Bizen Kanemitsu, or kinpun mei (gold powder inscription) in gold lacquer is given by Hon'ami Koson (1879-1956), of the Maebashi clan of Joshu Province. He was both polisher and sword connoisseur, and published a number of books including Nipponto no okite to tokucho (Rules and characteristics of Japanese swords) at the age of 77, a year before his death.
    It is likely that the sword was cut down during the Muromachi period, and although there might have been a known provenance and tradition that it was the work of Kanemitsu, the attribution would have been confidently made by Koson at the time of polishing.