Cutting Edge Issue 2 - Page 48

Han-dachi mounted wakizashi, in the Mino-Goto style of kodogu. Ito-maki tachi koshirae Tachi The tachi koshirae is designed to be worn suspended from the waist on the left hand side. This means that the cutting edge of the blade is towards the ground and this effects the way it may be drawn for use. Originally the tachi was made for combat whilst mounted on horseback and the draw is from “ground to sky”. In ancient times the top 12 inches of the scabbard was wrapped in the same man he handle and this is known as an Ito-maki-tachi (lit thread wrapped tachi). The thread wrapping on the scabbard prevented chaffing against the armour as well as providing a convenient grip, if required. The metal mounts on both the scabbard and handle are usually en-suite, as is the tsuba or handguard. Usually the decoration of the entire piece, both lacquer and metal work, would be decorated with family Mon (heraldic devices). There are other tachi, which apart from lacking the thread wrapped scabbard, are of the same basic design as ito-maki-tachi. Other variations, such as the Efu-no-tachi, a formal koshirae made for Imperial courtiers, are seldom encountered and those that are, usually are of 20th century manufacture. The one above has a Tiger tale cover and was probably worn when hunting. With the change from mounted to foot combat, the ito-maki-tachi became somewhat obsolete, but was retained by high ranking generals and the like. It became popular in the Edo period (1603-1868) where it was used more as a parade sword and was also worn with certain formal clothing. Most examples encountered today are of the late Edo period, and earlier examples are both rare and expensive. Han-dachi This literally means “half tachi” and takes properties from both tachi and katana koshirae. The scabbard mounts of the tachi, are to a large extent present, but the sword is worn and used in the style of a katana. Such mounts may also be found on wakizashi or short swords and vary greatly in quality. Han-dachi were particularly popular at the end of the Edo period and into the early Meiji period (18681877). This was a period of great unrest that eventually saw the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate and the restoration of the Emperor to full ruling powers. Those that supported the Imperial cause often sported very long swords in han-dachi koshirae and they became known as Kinno-to or “emperor supporting swords”. Katana koshirae Katana and wakizashi Unlike the tachi, the katana is worn with the cutting edge uppermost and is more suited to combat on foot. Here the draw is from “sky to ground” and an attacking cut may be made with the draw. As a generalisation, early katana koshirae was rather plain in design, with black lacquered scabbards and iron tsuba, reflecting the lower rank of many of the wearers. The scabbards of all katana have a small retaining hook, about a foot from the top, which helps keep the sword secure in the belt or sash. The handle is wrapped in the traditional manner and a metal pommel and 46 | CUTTING EDGE collar, often very decorative and known as Fuchi and Kashira, are found at the handle’s extremities. Under the wrapping are menuki which are metal hilt ornaments, said to felicitate the grip. The katana koshirae of the Edo period became more decorative and the metal mounts were increasingly flamboyant, reflecting the taste of moneyed merchant class rather than the more austere taste of the ideal samurai. Also, as this was a time of peace, with no wars for some 250 years, the severe practical mounts of earlier times were less favoured. Wakizashi or short swords, are most commonly found in this type of koshirae, the obvious difference being in the length. On the top end of the scabbard of wakizashi, are often slots inset that accommodate either kogatana or kogai. These are auxiliary tools rather than weapons, the former being a small knife with a decorative handle and the latter being a skewer type of implement. Often these are very skilfully decorated ????????)???????????????????????????)???????????=??????????????)????????????????????????????)?????????????((