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Manchukuoan «gensui» sword: new findings and research, Pronin А.О. (Novosibirsk)

Министерство обороны Российской Федерации Российская Академия ракетных и артиллерийских наук Военно-исторический музей артиллерии, инженерных войск и войск связи Война и оружие Новые исследования и материалы Труды Третьей Международной научно-практической конференции 16–18 мая 2012 года 

Часть III
© ВИМАИВиВС, 2012 
© Коллектив авторов, 2012

IN THE PERIOD between the end of XIXth and the beginning of the XXth century the unique experience of conservating and existence of late medieval military traditions and side arms complexes appeared. It was closely connected with Japan. It’s main feature was the adoptation of national military traditions to the modern military system. One of the main characteristics of such traditions in Japan was the unique experience of side arms complex existence.

Items of «traditional» and «military» side arms, made in Japan during XVII–XX centuries are among the most wanted objects for museums and private collectors. One can find them in World’s famouse museum arsenals or reachest private collections. Such items are not rare at the antique auctions. As a result of decades of Japanese side arms research there are a lot of collector’s and researcher’s assosiations devoted to both «traditional» and «military» weapon of Japan.

The focuse of our interest is the history of Japanese military side arms, gun-to, existed between 1868 and1945. It’s appearence and further existence were a result of complicated mixture of traditional and western technology, as well as of practical experience of it’s use. The existence of military swords and other items of this arms complex of Japan of this period are the historical, cultural and technological phenomena.

Due to the Japan’s great role in development and existence of weapon complexes of Eastern Asia, espesially in The Modern time (1868–1945 period)3, the research of Japanese swords, sabers, dadders and dirks is one of the actual problems today. One can find a wide list of publications, devoted to such weapon4. Nevertheless, there is still a lack of detailed descriptions and reconstructions of sword and sword’s mount producton technologies. The researches including sword mount disassembling (if it is not prohibited) are among the rarest now. Authors of this article have already publicated their research results with such an experience, devoted to the military and traditional swords of Japan from US, PRC and Russian collections5.

The research of a wide complex of Japanese serial made side arms allow to reconstruct the process of an adoptation of national military traditions (of technology, mounts, decoration e.t.c.) to the modern technics and production. In some cases, the practice of «traditional», hand&working swordsmith’s or mount maker’s job for the modern regular military forces of 1st half of XX century preserved. This phenomena was important espesially for production of expensive custom&made sword blades and mounts. The practice of mounting of old blades (made prior to 1868) in to regular «official» mount is also a part of this phenomena. Such blades were the family relics for their owners and a part of oficially cancelled samurai’s priveleges remains6. The object of our recent research are the most rarest swords of Japan and it’s ally Manchukuo used by field marshals and Full fleet admirals7.

The Highest Military Counsil Gensuifu was established accordind to The Emperor’s decrete on January, 19, 1898. The honor title Gensui (Army Fieldmarshal and Navy Full Admiral) was established for Gensuifu members in May, 18988,9. It was among the most rarest Imperial awards for an outstanding merit. Richard Fuller and Ron Gregory with the link to Han Bin Siong’s work have outlined that swordsmiths Gassan Sadakazu and Gassan Sadakatsy had made gensui-to (gensui swords; «to» mean «sword») for the Emperor Meidzi, marshal Ooyama and admiral Togo Heihatiro. The production of these swords, including two for the most honorable military commanders of modern Japanese warfare, may be connected with an outstanding victory in Russian&Japanese war 1904–1905. Giving such a sword could be one of The Emperor’s awards for their outstanding merits.

After 1918 every new Gensuifu member was awarded with special badge gensui-kisho10 and gensui-to sword11. Fuller and Gregory outlines that a sword have been presented to a Gensuifu member by the Emperor himself. Gensui-kisho badge on the right lower part of uniform tunic and special designed gensui&to sword were the only signs of the gensui title. At the same time, an owner of that title usually have weared army general or navy admiral insignia according to the military Regulations12

Officially regulated gensui-to sword type13 was established by the Taisho Emperor edict in August, 191814. It’s type and desigh was based on the traditional kenukigata tachi swords. Such a sword was owned by the legendary Fudzivara Hidesato, who have supressed the «fake emperor» Taira Masacado uprising. It is still kept in the Emperor’s temple treasury in Ise, as a cultural relict and value15. The blade type of gensui-to swords is kogarasu-zukuri, close to the kogarasu-maru blades («small raven»)16.

One of the authors have illustrated the english translation of an official Japanese governmental document in his previous work17. This is the abstract from the Set of Navy regulations, made by mr. kohiyama Nobuo. The abstracts from Volume 7, Chapter 12 «Uniform and insignia» are connected with gensui-to swords:

«Gensui-to swords and Gensui&kisho brief history, 20 of August, 1921 (Taisho, 10):

May, 24th, 1898, (Meiji 31), Imperial Edict No. 96; Gensui badge and it’s regulation were established; August, 28th, 1918, (Taisho 7) Imperial Edict No. 330 Gensui-to sword regulations established; October, 20th. 1919, official infornation: Emperor would present gensui-to swords to army generals and navy admirals of Gensui title at Emperor’s Palace.

Later, Prince Fushimi Erikhito have visited Great Britain. He have presented gensui-to sword and gensui badge to The King18 together with the short note «Gensui-to sword History»:

«Gensui sword established accordingly with the ancient Shotto ceremony (Sword giving ceremony). It is established for use by generals and admirals of Gensui title, according to the regulation of certain Emperor’s Edict. Ancient custom usage of giving an Emperor’s order together with a sword to the grand military leader. After that act, a leader immediately started his dispatch. After a mission had been completed, he have used the first opportunity to report to the Emperor and return a sword.

Such a sword was a national treasure. During Heian period it was suffered from a fire. It’s blade was later put in to an Emperor’s temple… During the Meiji, 1, it was given to a prince…

Gensui sword’s design is close to an ancient blade type (the example is general Fudziwara Hidesato’s Tinzu-fu sword, which is now kept in Chokokan Treasury of the Ise temple. It’s blade is double-edged and, due to some reasons, has a small curvature. Scabbard is created accordind  to the examples of «long» tofikurin swords, used by Gen-Pei Era warriors.

Menuki and scabbards have 16-petal chryzantem – our Imperial Insignia. General design of the sword created according to court ceremonial swords of Heian period. Later, gold imperial insignia was placed on khabaki».

In the same source one can find gensui-to sword dimensions (accordind to the national metric shaku-sun-bu system. The length of a tsuka (handle) – 5 sun, 5 bu; scabbard length 2 shaku, 6 sun. These dimensions povides common length of tsuka and saya (scabbard) together about 954 mm, without tsuba’s thikness19.

In general, according to this text, one certain gensui-to sword was presented to the Kind of Great Britan. More over, the gensui title was presented to the lord Kitchener, prior to official establish of gensui-to sword type and design. He was the british Ministry of Defense between 1914–1916 and the key figure for Japan among foreign leaders20. Later, one gensui-to sword was presented to the Manchukuo Emperor Pu Yi (reign name Kande) during his inauguration in 1932. That sword blade was equpped with two mount kits: the first one was a regular gensui-to mount kit according to all Japanese regulations and the second one was it’s variation designed espesialy for The Manchukuoan Leader. The last one had been decorated with the Manchukuoan imperial insignia (orchid flower) instead of Japanese imperial kiku mon (16-petal chryzantem) (pic. 1).

There are also scarce information about awards for foreign military and civil officials with Japanese swords in «military» of «traditional» mounts. There are few examples of award for German and Finnish military officials, as well as for the military officials from Japanese protectorates (Manchukuo, Menjiang, Burma) with schingun-to swords. Presenting of the highest level swords in reachly decorated mounts made by most famous swordsmiths was also a practice for Japanese diplomacy. Such a sword in «traditional» mount was presented to the future President of Indonesia Achmed Sukarno in 1943. It was a sword of kenuki-gata tachi type with silver tsuka and scabbard parts, decorated with high relief of sacura flowers and floral ornament on the background of nanako pattern. Scabbard were covered with gold nasizi laquer with the silver laquered sakura flowers. The sword had 699 mm blade made by one of the most famous swordsmiths Miyata Nobuashi in 1921. That swordsmith have been awarded with the membership of Imperial Academy of Arts  (equivalent of the today’s «Live National Treasure» title)21. All this peculiarities of the Sukarno’s sword outline the highest rank of such an award. Sword award seems to be among the highest level imperial awards. Gensui-to swords were on the top among highest swords.

Richard Fuller and Ron Gregory suggested total quantity of Japanese gensui-to swords ever made between 1918 and 1945 as 12 items (they mean gensui-to swords with 5 kiku mon insignia on each side of a scabbard). Prior to the 1918 gensui-to sword type was not established oficially. Among all «military» gun-to swords of Imperial Japan each gensui-to sword is among the rarest22. One of authors of this article have outlined before, that there are 3 gensui-to swords in Japanese museums which have already become familiar for western specialists. Two more gensui-to swords are from The Yasukuni shrine. These items were described by Omura Sozoyki. Finally, one more sword is preserved in Windsor castle collection in Great Britain23. More over, an older sword which is close to the gensui-to type (according to it’s blade type and a style of it’s mount) is in lord Mountbatten’s collection (Brondlese, Great Britain).

Due to original descriptions a wodden saya (scabbard) and a tsuka (handle) were made of magnolia. A woodden body of a scabbard and a hadle was covered with plates of «blackened-blue», dark rogin metal24. Metal plated saya and tsuka have been decorated with reach golgen or gold-plated parts with flower relief. That decorations included sunflowers and chrizantemum ornament. Side plates on tsuka and saya were covered with the engraved sunflower ornament. These details could be made of gold-plated brass25. Thin decorative mehuki designed in the shape of traditional tweezers for pulling out hair kenuki, which are widens at it’s ends. This item have provided the name of such style of swords: kenuki-gata no tachi. Big and massive tsuba of a mocco shape is reachly decorated. Sword’s tassel was made in a traditional tsuiy-no-o type. It consisted of «golden» leather cord put into a special hole in kabuto-gane. Tassel ends were decorated with gold-plated brass (or golden) faceted ends. The saya throat was decorated with kuchi-gane socket with flower relief. Saya also had a shibabiki ring, and ishizuke end. Two richly decorated ashi (suspension mount) allow to wear sword or hang it to owner’s belt. Ashi were provided with brass rings for belt hook. The way of wearing a gensui-to sword was other than traditional, according to the European type of army and navy uniform26

Special belt for gensui-to sword have been designed as golden-silver-golden-silver-golden horisontal bar with round gold-plated buckle with 32-petal imperial chryzantemum kiku27. The front short suspesion belt attached to an upper ashi suspension ring, and longer back one – to the lower ashi suspension ring28.

Specialists were able to research gensui-to swords of fieldmarshal Terauchi Masatake and his son fieldmarshal Terauchi Hisaichi (now in Defense Forses of Japan Museum Bocho Sobu-kan in Yamaguchi camp) and the sword of fieldmashal Yehara Usaku (the only gensui&to sword outside Japan; in Windzor castle of Great Britain)29. They provide more imformative description of such swords accompanied with photos.

Specialists agreed that every gensui-to blade was custom handmade blade, produced according to complete technological process of smithing and polishing30. Such work have been made by most famous swordsmiths of Japan. Omura Sozouki from Japan described an interesting example of two gensui-to swords31. First was owned by fieldmarshal Nobushi Muto32, who was a Commander of Kwantung Army (Kanto gun) in Manchuria between 1932 and 1933 and Japanese ambassador and resident. This sword is now in The Yasukuni shrine. It’s tang tachimei and ura-mei sides are engraved with inscriptions: «Kasama Toshitsugu kinsaku» («made by Kosama Toshitsugu») and «good day, april, 1924». Original name of the swordsmiths was Yoshikazu Kasama. He was born in Suzuoka Prefecture in april, 1886, and was taght by famous swordsmiths Sigetishi Miyaguchi and Masayoshi Morioka. Later he worked as an instructor of Japanese Sword Forging Training School.

As for the second gensui-to sword, it’s author and owner stay undiscovered now33. The main features of this sword are the blade of 770 mm long; shape and dimensions of it’s suspension rings34, as well as tassel’s color and condition35. One of the main peculiarities of this sword is massive tsuba (guard). It have 9 holes, 8 mm in diameter each36. These holes were covered by seppa37. It main role seems to be the reducing of tsuba’s weight. Both sword blades are of a rare kogarasu-zukuri type38.

Richard Fuller described fieldmarshal Hata Sunroku’s gensui-to with kogarasu-zukuri blade39. This type of blade have fullers ending little before khabaki. It’s known that a least one swordsmith Kotani Yasunori have produced such blades between 1935 and 1945. He was the instructor of The Yasukuni shrine sword forging school40.

The marshal Terauchi Hisaichi’s gensui-to blade have been made by the same smith in 194341. Fieldmarshal Terauchi Hisaichi was the  comamder of The Southern Army. He surredered at November, 30, 1945 and gave two of his swords to lord Mountbatten himself. One of these swords was close to gensui-to type design kenucki-gata tachi with silver mount parts. It’s blade have been dated to the year 1292 and was a family relic of Terauchi clan42. This sword is in the house of lord Mountbatten in Brondlese, Graet Britain43. The sword photo was first published in this military commander memoirs44. The location of Terauchi Hisaichi’s gensui-to sword is still unknown. All gensui-to blades have been known by modern researchers have kogarasu-zukuri blades45.

We have already outlined here the oneness in the types of gensui-to blades.Together with an outstanding rarity and highest status of this swords it allow us to think that the exact kogarasu-zukuri blade type was oficially established for gensui-to swords. Made by famous smith, the kogarasu-zukuri blade of highest quality, have played an additional role as a highest title insignia.

The official gensui-to description, illustrated by western researches in translation from Japanese have based on a few scarce sources of information. It could provide only a common view on gensuito swords blades, design and construction46,47. That’s why creation of detailed descriptions of concrete swords is an actual problem now. As for known Manchukuo gensui-to type swords – any additional information is nesessary and important.

Our article is devoted to the such swords, made in traditional kenuki-gata style close to the gensui-to swords. These swords have features of design which are different from japanese gensui-to described above (pic. 2, 1–11; 4, 1–17). For the moment, there are two of such swords known. The first is in private collection in Moscow now48, and the second is in mr. Antonov’s private collection also in Russia.

Our main task was to discover, whether these swords were an original side arms of leading manchukuoan officers. We were also need to resarch time or period of the swords production and smiths name(es). Second, we were need to describe blade’s and mount’s features of both swords in order to make a decision whether swords are met the gensui-to official patterns of not. The result of such a work will be a conclusion about cultural value of a concrete sword.

Due to outstanding rarity of such items, publication of these swords and scientific discussion about all their features are among the most important results of our work. The detailed research of such swords blades, mount parts and construction is nesessary for oriental weaponry  and Arts researches. As a part of a private collection, these items are scarcely possible for detailed research, especially with it’s dismounting or disassembly. The destiny of private owned items may be changed rapidly. So, a researcher need to use any chance for his work with such an item. Authors of this article were extremely lucky to research one of these swords with total dismounting and partial disassenbly of it’s scabbard49. We have copied50 the relief ornament of some swords parts, and made nesessary measurements, photos and macrophotos.

The first sword from private collection in Moscow (pic. 2; 4) have the following dimensions: common length in scabbard – 1012 mm; blade length – 884 mm; cutting edge length – 685 mm; blade curvature (sori) – 10 mm; tang (nakago) length – 200 mm; max blade wide – 32 mm; max blade thickness – 6 mm; total weight (sword with blade, mount and tassel) is 2200 gramms.

The blade is without any visual defects or damage (pic. 2, 2, 9–11; 4, 1, 14–17). It have been forged from complicated steel pins pack according to the traditional technology. With microscope of macro lens one can find layers of the metal. Along the all blade the visual pattern khamon exists. It marks more forged blade part (cuttind edge) from the other part which is less forged. Tiny granules of martensite (nie and nioi) are also were found. Such granules could be received only during traditional forging technique of comlicated metal rods pack. The blade’s cutting edge shape is of traditional kogarasu-zukuri (break of the raven) type.) 1/2 of the blade with kissaki (the end of the blade) is double edged (pic. 2, 2). Each side of the blade have two fullers. The first, wider fuller ends in the middle of the blade with figured ends. The second narrower one lasts until the blade’s end (pic. 2, 2; 4, 1). Each side of the blade is decorated with engraved 32-petal kiku mon at the base of the blade. Imperial chryzantemum kiku was also an insignia for top highest nobility representatives. One, placed on the omote side of the blade (obverse) is engraved with tracks of solid gold filled; and another one placed on the ure (reverse) side of the blade is a gold filled outline (pic. 4, 15, 16). The nakago (tang) is covered with strong black and rust-brown patina. It have been insigned by the smith51, the name was first read as Inoe Makai (pic 4, 17). Takehito Jimbo, who helped as historian for Jim Dawson’s book, reviewed the sample photos. He said that the sword smith is Inoue Shinkai and not Inoue Makai, but the swordsmith’s person have been identified correctly but have the name wrong. Chinese experts who have examined this sword in Beijing according to the GTG procedure had made the same mistake. To sum it up, this blade is the traditional shinto of an Old school period (1596–1800). Such items are among the unique and rarest now. Each of them have been produced individually. The blade itself has certain cultural and historical value. Sword with such blade was a symbol of power and military strength have been being at the same time functional weapon.

The sword mount designed in kenukigata-no tachi style (pic. 2, 1, 3, 4; 4, 1, 2). The length of the kenuki shaped patch (menuki) is 128 mm; it’s max width at each end – 21 mm. The width of each copper stripe of the patch is 3 mm; the space between stripes – 4,5 mm. Kenuki shaped patch thickness is about 1 mm. In it’s mid-point the relief 32-petal imperial kiku mon is placed (pic. 2). It has 17 mm in diameter. Kenuki shaped patches and kiku mons on both sides of the tsuka are made from gilded copper. The length between each kenucki end and kiku mon is 53 mm. The space between lower ends of menuki and inner edge of the fuchi (tsuka’s lower socket) is 48 mm. The space between upper menuki ends and kabuto-gane is 7 mm at sides and 14 mm in the mid point.

The common length of tsuka is 250 mm (pic. 4, 2). The width of the tsuka is 40 mm near fuchi and 35 mm near kabuto-gane. The width of the kabuto-gane is 40 mm in lower part and 37 mm at the top. The sword’s fuchi is oval in section (pic. 4, 6). It’s base is more wider than top (25 x 42 mm against 21 x 42 mm). The height of the fuchi is 13 mm, the thickness is 3 mm. There is the round hole for a spring type lock button. The hole has 7 mm in diameter (pic. 4, 6). It is sutuated aside from the fuchi mid-point. The space between the hole edge and the end of the fuchi is 19 mm to the left and 25 mm to the right. The base of the fuchi equipped with the hole for the blade’s tang (nakago-ana) and the spring lock (pic. 4, 6, 7). The hole dimensions are: length – 28 mm; max width – 9 mm; the width of the base – 6 mm. The hole has an attached 12x6 mm hollow for the spring lock.

The spring lock (pic. 4, 7) consists of four parts: base bar (length 56 mm; width 5 mm; thickness – 1 mm) with one edged end which is sharp expanded up to 2 mm; the flat spring (length – 28 mm; width – 5 mm) riveted to the upper end of the base bar; cylindrical shape button (8 mm in diameter; 8 mm height) with the top made in chtyzantemum shape; rivet (4 mm in diameter) which fixed flat spring on the base bar. The top end of the assembled spring lock was put in to special slot in the lower end of the wodden tsuka. A the same time, spring lock button was inserted in the hole at the fuchi side The wided end of the lock bar goes into special holes of tsuba, seppa and the same of kuchi-gane (scabbard throat). It clings to a special ledge and fixes the sword into it’s scabbard. The edged end of the sling lock have remains of gilding. Being assembled, it’s end is 25 mm long from fuchi.

The kabuto-gane (the top of the tsuka) max height is 43 mm; height of each side is 40 mm; width of lower edge is 40 mm. Both sides of kabuto-gane have curved «window» (26 mm max width; 11 mm – max height) (pic. 4, 4). In the lower part of the kabuto-gane’s each side the metal lug with the tassel hole is situated. The hole diameter is 8 mm. The total thickness of kabuto-gane is 21 mm.

The middle part of the tsuka is curved. It is covered with silvered copper alloy plates52. It’s internal side length is 179 mm, and external side length is 186 mm. The wodden base of the tsuka is made from 4 parts and covered with copper alloy plates. The thickness of wodden base sides is 5 mm each. One side has the special slot for the sling lock. The width of the slot is 7 mm, and the deep is 4 mm. Side ends of the tsuka are covered with narrow gilded brass plates decorated with engraved sunflower ans leaf ornament (pic. 4, 2, 3). Each plate is 18 mm width and 1 mm thick.

Nearby the fuchi tsuka widens at the lengh of 42 mm. Ends of brass plates are widen, too. These curved and widened ends cover the silvered copper alloy plates at the central space of tsuka base (pic. 2, 6). Each curved end of a brass plate is 21 mm wide and 16 mm long.

Nearby curved ends of brass plates (7 mm from it) the mekugi-ana hole is placed. The brass mekugi pin consists of two parts, inserted into one another. It fixes the tsuka on the blade’s tang. Both mekugi ends are decorated with chryzantemum (pic. 4, 10).

Massive brass tsuba made by casting and gilded (pic. 5). It pierced with the curve slot, divided it’s flat middle part from wide skirting with lots of lines, curved petals and relief details (pic. 5, 1–7). The length ofthe tsuba is 79 mm; the wide – 64 mm. The thickness of it’s middle part is 6,5 – 7 mm. The tsuba’s skirting wide is 14 mm. In the mid-point of the tsuba the nakago-ana hole for the tand of the blade is situated. It’s length is 28 mm and width is 6 mm at the base (up to 9 mm in the middle). Aside from the nakago-ana the rectangular 7 x 5 mm hole for the sling lock is placed (pic. 5, 1, 2, 3).

The set of curved seppa consists of 4 items. Each side of the tsuba is covered with two seppa – big one dai-seppa and small oval one. All seppa are gilded. Each of big dai-seppa is cross-shaped and adjaced immediately to the middle part of the tsuba53. The length of each dai-seppa is 64 mm, width – 49 mm. The length of each cross section of dai-seppa is 5 mm; width – 21 mm. In the middle of each cross§ion of dai-seppa a heart-shaped 6 x 4 mm hole is situated. Cross-shaped dai-seppa are covered by oval seppa with ribbed edge54. Oval seppa dimensions are: 54 x 30 mm and 54 x 29 mm. In the mid-point of each seppa the nakago-ana hole is situated. It’s dimensions are the same with one on tsuba. Aside from the nakago-ana the rectangular 6 x 4 mm hole for the sling lock is placed.

The blade’s ricasso is covered with khabaki socket made from gilded brass (pic. 2, 2). It’s lower edge is rounded. The maximum height of khabaki is 30 mm. The height of each side of the khabaki is 28 mm. The width of the khabaki is 33 mm. The maximum width is 35 mm. The thikness of the khabaki is 2 mm.

The length of the saya scabbard is 749 mm. The wodden saya is covered with silvered copper alloy plates; the same as for the tsuka (pic. 6). The thickness of plates is about 1 mm. Examples of Japanese swords covered with metal plates in the same way described in western and russian literature55. Unfortunately there is no any description of a production technology. At the first blush it seems each scabbard plate to be long single-piece plate, which met the scabbard length. After we have partially disassembled the scabbard, the metal cover appeared to consist of several parts. The plate junction was covered with other mount part – shibabiki socket.

After we had dismounted the shibabiki socket, we have seen what it covers the plate junction and fix silvered copper alloy plates and side brass plates together (pic. 7). The maximum width of shibabiki is 18 mm; the width of each side of the shibabiki is 10 mm. The thickness of the shibabiki is 1,5 mm. It is decorated with flower and petal design. The shibabiki is fixed on the scabbard body with one brass adjusting screw at the lower end of the saya. The cover of each side of the scabbard consists of 2 silvered copper alloy plates: one short (207 mm long) in the lower part and one long (542 mm). Plates are tightly adjusted to each other.

The scabbard throat of complicated construction (pic. 9) decorated with gilded brass kuchi-gane socket (pic. 8). The shape of the kuchi-gane is oval. It’s height is 11 mm. The length of the top edge of the kuchi-gane is 49 mm, and the lower – is 46 mm. The external surfasce is decorated with flower and petal relief design. The top flat of the socket has holes for blade and sling lock. Kuchi&gane is adjusted to the scabbard by two brass screw.

All parts of the scabbard throat are tightly adjusted to eash other (pic 8, 9). The thick top edge of the wodden base of the saya (1 mm thickness; 2 mm height) is adjusted to the edge of the kuchi-gane socket blade hole. This protects the blade from touching the metal edge of kuchi-gane. The wodden saya has a special slot for the sling lock head. The kuchi-gane socket is tightly adjisted to the saya. This also show us the highest quality of the sword’s mount.

Decorated ashi (suspension mounts) are both of the same complicated shape (pic. 9). Each ashi consists of 8 parts: massive ring fixed on saya body, decorative washer with high relief edge; 3 collars of different thickness (with ribbed edge), massive head with hole for the suspension ring and adjusting brass screw. All ashi parts are made of gilded brass.

The space between the scabbard throat and the upper ashi is 73 mm on the mid-line and 75 mm on the internal side of the saya. The space between the lower ashi and shibabiki socket is 256 mm. The spacebetween upper and lower ashi is 183 mm. Each ashi is adjusted to the scabbard body by one brass screw.

The scabbard end ishizuke is also made from gilded brass. It is decorated with reach flower and petal design. The isizuke is tightly adjusted to the end of the scabbard and fixed by one brass screw (pic. 10), same as both ashi and shibabiki socket.

The scabbard is decorated with 6 relief 32-petal imperial chryzantemum – zuroku-yaekiku (pic. 2, 8; 4, 14). Each kiku mon is made from gilded brass and is 26 mm in diameter. Each saya side is decorated with 3 kiku mon: one is between ashi; one is between lower ashi and shibabiki; one between shibabiki and ishizuke (pic. 2, 7). Each mon is adjusted to the silvered copper alloy plate. As it was mentioned before, such a mon with chryzantemum was used by The Emperor of Japan. It also can be found on different items owned by court officials and Imperial Guard officials56.

Key features of this sword are the same as for japanese gensui-to swords. 32-petal chryzantemum kiku mons on its saya and tsyka; relief sunflower and leaf design of tsuba, kabuto-gane, fuchi, kuchi-gane,ashi, shibabiki and ishizuke are the same as for gensi-to swords even in smallest details (pic. 2; 4). It seems to be that the sword was a Gensuifu member’s item or was owned bu a highest military official who was close to the Gensuifu. The main dfference between Japanese gensui-to swords and this sword is the number of 32-petal kiku mons on it’smount. All gensui-to swords were decorated with 6 chryzantemum mons on each side: 1 on a tsuka and 5 on a scabbard. Each side of the described sword is decorated with 4 imperial 32-petal kiku mons: 1 on the tsuka and 3 on the saya (pic. 2, 1; 4, 1–13). The sword is completel original. Such swords decorated with only 4 kiku mons have been unknown for specialists before. For Japan itself such gensui-to type swords have been unknown.

Here the traditional Japanese experience is important. Researches have occasionally described swords decorated in such style. For example, there is the kogatana sword with aikuchi style copper mount57. Each side of that sword have been decorated with 8 mitsuba-mon (mallow trefoil): 2 on a tsuka and 6 on a saya. Authors also were lucky to find a tachi sword from private collection in Beijing (PRC) decorated with laquer tokugawa mons against a black backgound. Swords with 3, 5, and 7 mons on each side of it’s scabbard have also been known. The number of overlord’s mon on a sword’s mount could be a kind of it’s owner’s status insignia. This tradition have been renewed in design of swords of Imperial Japan highest military official’s.

All facts mentioned above are acompanied with the exact similarity in the design of the decribed sword’s mount with known gensui-to swords from Japanese and British museums. Even smallest features of ornamental relief are the same with Japanese gensui-to swords. The reason may be in using the same casting molds by the same maker. All information mentioned above allow us to suggest the highest status of an original owner of this sword. The number of kiku mons outlines that this status was lower than Gensuifu member.

Our detailed research allow us to find several other features. These features hardly could be visible during a first look. All of them are connected with technical process of sword’s mount production. First, the deailed comparing of Japanese gensui-to swords (macro photos) with this sword was made. It allow us to see that exactly the same elements of Japanese gensui-tos were made a little better in quality than same on our sword; with better quality of final operations (polishing, gilding, etc.) Second, same casting molds were used for our sword and 5-mon gensui-to swords production. A final technical operations such as polishing, engraving, cutting off in custing relief and making of nanako style surface allow a high qualified maker to hide a small pouring defects. 

For example, the ishizuke was made by casting in special mold. The brass alloy included big coper part. As a result there were several small casting defects (internal and surface caverns and pores). Common fluency and softness of the lines of ishizuke relief as well as minor unpoured parts are also exist. These defects could be the result of casting model fluentcy and unpouring (if wax model was used) or subcooling eithe overheating of a melt or a mold. Moldings obtained by casting received an elementary final working. After that finished moldings were gilded and the small pouring defects could be seen under the gilding (pic. 5, 6, 7). At the same time gensui-to swords with 5 kiku mons on their scabbard receved a more qualitative finishing.

Massive tsuba is partially refined with graver. It has engraved pinstripes with small rasp tracks (pic. 5, 1–5). The flat middle part of the tsuba have been aligned with milling cutter and has tracks (pic. 5, 1, 2, 3). This middle part on both sides of the guard was covered with seppa. The relief of the side of the guard was gilded without any finishing. There are shrink pores on it.

Relief mons on the scabbard of the sword are also made by casting with futher finishing and gilding (pic. 4, 14; 2, 7, 8). One of the swords described by Omura Sozouki demonstrates such 32-petal chryzantemum mons have been stamped or manually cut. Same sword demonstrates differences in the construction of ashi58 (pic. 1; 4, 13). Each of them have two wasgers made from darkened alloy (probably rogin alloy). This provides an unusial effect. Each suspension mount of that sword consist of 9 parts. Suspension ring of each ashi is of elongated shape.

Due to our suggestions about the status of the owner of the sword with 3 kiku mons on saya, all descrided differencies of the quality of finishing are logical. The quality of production and finishing is among the highest. At the same time the quality of described sword is little lower than quality of Japanese gensui-to swords. It also may have outlined the owner’s status differenses.

The blade of the sword was certainly made in Japan by the famous swordsmith of XVII century. We suggest that the sword’s mount was made in Japan, too. It’s style and quality leave no doubt on this. More over, materials includes traditional silvered copper alloy. The making of this alloy need professional qualification as Japanese mount makers had reached up to the 1st half of XX century.

The history of relations between Japan and Manchukuo and other allied states shows, that this sword may be issued for a highest military  official who have served in Manchukuoan military forces. Such highest rank officials were Japanese but have served as commaners and coordinators of satellite forces and Kwantung army forces placed on Manchuria territory. The complete list of 17 admirals and 13 generals awarded with special swords is known for specialists. It is also known that their swords were close similar to Japanese gensui-to swords. The main difference was 3 32-petal chryzantemum mons on each scabbard side instead of 5 kiku mons on gensui-to scabbard side.

A close connections of this sword (with traditional Japanese XVII century blade) and Manchukuoan military elite is indirectly confirmed by peculiarities of Manchukuoan award system. The Law established state orders and medals of Manchukuo was declared on April, 19, 193459. As an Edict for each order or medal, the law itself have been prepared by Japanese officials. Finally the award system of Manchukuo was very similar to the Japanese one (rules and procedure of award; number of an order classes, design of medals and orders). More over, Manchukuan awards such as The Order of Orchid and others, have been produced by Osaka mint in Japan60, the same was for other Manchukuoan military and civil insignia which have been often wear by citizens of Japan61. Such an expansion in the ideology and it’s material sphere (awards, state and military insignia, titles and ranks, etc.) was a unique phenomena. It have influenced a lot to the spreading of original Japan and japanese-made items on the territory of modern PRC. The sword described in our article is the brightest example of such an item.

This Manchukuoan gensui-to sword was examined and estimated by chinese specialists in Beijing according to the inner Chinese GTG standard for an auction. According to the GTG sertificate № 54547831181 given on both Chinese and English the sword was classified as a «Sword of a Manchukuoan Marshal» (pic. 3). According to the scarce information provided by it’s previous owner, the sword have been kept in Inner Mongolia Province beginning from the end of 1940-s. This corresponds to known Manchukuoan and Japanese practice of an awarding highest officials with reachly decirated swords described above as well as our conclusions. Made in identical to Japanese gensui-to swords manner (in kenuckigata-no tachi style) the sword itself is an original item and is among the most rarest. It has great cultural and historical value. The detailed resuts of our research of this sword and all measurements and photos are totally new in resarch practice. 

Pic. 1. Manchukuoan gensui-to sword, general view. Please note the differenses of ornament and design (Jim Dawson photo, from his letter to the author) 

Pic. 2. Sword from private collection in Moscow (steel, copper alloy, brass, gilding, gold, silver alloy, wood, leather): 1 – general view; 2 – the kogarasu-zukuri blade general view; 3 – the sword and scabbard general view; 4 – tsuka, tassel, tsuba, scabbard throat and upper ashi; 5 – kabuto-gane top view; 6 – detail of the assembled sword mount (assembled mekugi peg, fuchi, sword lock button, tsuba and figured ends of top side brass plates of both tsuka and saya); 7 – saya: ishizuke and lower kiku mon; 8 – imperial chrizantemum kiku mon on the tsuka; 9 – details of the blade, 1st side view: (tang, khabaki, gilded kiku mon and fuller ends); 10 – double edged end of the blade; 11 – details of the blade, 2nd side view: (tang, khabaki, gilded kiku mon and fuller ends) 

Pic. 3. The Manchukuoan gensui-to sword GTG sertificate 

Pic. 4. Details of gensui-to sword with private collection in Moscow (steel, copper alloy, brass, gilding, gold, silver alloy, wood, leather): 1 – disassembled mount parts and blade common view; 2 – disassembled tsuka side view, top view, rear view; 3 – top side brass plates ornament detail (micalent paper copy); 4 – kabuto-gane; 5 – kabuto-gane relief decoration detail (micalent paper copy); 6 – fiuchi; 7 – blade lock; 8 – tassel metal ends; 9 – tassel double clutch; 10 – disassembled mekugi peg; 11 – shibabiki; 12 – shibabiki side view; 13 – ashi general view; 14 – imperial chrisantemum kiku mon on the scabbard; 15, 16 – kiku mon on the blade; 17 – the tang of the blade with «Inoe Shinkai» inscription 

Pic. 5. Tsuba (brass, gilding; casting, engraving, milling): 1 – general view; 2 – obverse; 3 – reverse; 4 – the detail of the relief ornament (micalnt paper copy); 5 – the detail of the ornament; 6 – detail with shrinkage porosity; 7 – shrinkage porosity on the top side, covered with gilding  

Pic. 6. Disassembling of the ishizuke: woodden saya base with side metal plates 

Pic. 7. Disassembling of the shibabiki clutch: meeting of metal plates 

Pic. 8. Scabbard throat with disassembled kuchi-gane 


Pic. 9. Disassembling of the ashi 

Pic. 10. The ishizuke fixing by the small brass screw 


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13. Peterson J. W. Orders and medals of Japan and Assosiated States. San Ramon, California: The Orders and Medals Society of America, 2000. 178 p. (на англ. яз.)

14. Pronin A. O. The anatomy of schin-gunto: exploring the type 98 «long» and type 98 «short» tachi style swords in Imperial Japanese Army // Вестн. Новосиб. гос. ун-та. Серия: История, филология. 2011. Т. 10, вып. 4: Востоковедение. С. 81–89. (на англ. яз.)

15. Sato K. The Japanese Sword. Tokyo; New York: Kodansha International: Shibundo, 1983. 210 p. (на англ. яз.). 

1 Special acknowledgement: Thank you Jim Dawson, author of the «Swords of Imperial Japan 1868–1945. Cyclopedia edition» book, who provided assistance in the preparation of this article.

2 This work was made under the following programs: НИР 1.5.9 and АВЦП «Развитие научного потенциала ВШ (2009&2011 годы)» (проект РНП Минобрнауки; ГК №14.740.11.0766 ФЦП «Научные и научно-педагогические кадры инновационной России», при финансовой поддержке РГНФ (проект № 10-01-00258а).

3 The brightest example of such influence are rare now items of Japan protectorates and colonies side arms (Taiwan / Formosa; Karafuto / Southern Sakhalin;); Chosen / Korea; Kanto / Liaodun Penninsula; Nanyo / former german islands, South seas colony; Tsingtao; Mancukuo, Manziang / Inner Mongolia; e.t.c. Such items occasionally could be found in museum and private colections, few were   researched by speciallists [Dawson, 2008; Fuller, Gregory, 1986; Фуллер, Грегори, 2008].

4 Fuller, Gregori, 1986; Dawson, 1996; 2008; Han Bin Siong, 1998; Фуллер, Грегори, 1998; Баженов, 2001; Han Bing Siong, Bonsel, 2003; Labar, 2008; Пронин, 2011; Хорев, 2010 а, б, в.

5 Dawson, 1996; 2007; Пронин, 2011; Pronin, 2011; Пронин, Москвитин, 2011.

6 Mr. Gao Li Wei, P.R.C. gunto collector have demonstrated for one of the authors an unusial army Type 98 schin-gunto. It’s main feature was in the modern blade (made in 1930s) smithed together with a remain of an old blade tang with an oldsmith’s signature. Probably, an old blade had been broken and it’s tang have been kept as a memoria and re-used in new custom-made «military» blade.

7 Пронин, Москвитин, 2011. Рис. 1, 2, 3.

8 «Gensui» was a honor title, not military rank. Аn owner of Gensui title had military rank «General» (IJA) or «admiral» (IJN) [Dawson, 2008. P. 138].

9 Peterson, 2000.

10 Пронин, Москвитин, 2011. Рис. 1, 8.

11 Ibid. Pic. 1, 1, 9; 3, 1; 4, 1; 6, 1.

12 Peterson, 2000. P. 85–86.

13 Пронин, Москвитин, 2011. Pic. 2, 1, 2, 3, 4.

14 Фуллер, Грегори, 2008. С. 153.

15 Ibid.

16 Sato, 1983. P. 32–33.

17 Dawson, 2008. P. 137.

18 Han Bin Siong have researched the sword presented to the King of Great Britain. He outlined that the sword’s blade had famouse swordsmith’s Gassan Sadakazy inscription. But the real blade maker was his eldest son and successor Gassan Sadakatsy. The last one have also produced gensui&to sword for field marshal Uehara Usaku [Han Bing Siong, 1998. P. 8–15].

19 Dawson, 2008. P. 139.

20 Розанов, 2007. С. 40; Peterson, 2000. P. 60.

21 Фуллер, Грегори, 2008. С. 210–211.

22 Ibid. С. 155.

23 Dawson, 2008. P. 136–151.

24 Traditional alloy made of copper and silver («fogged silver»).

25 Фуллер, Грегори, 2008. С. 153.

26 Пронин, Москвитин, 2011. Рис. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

27 Фуллер, Грегори, 2008. С. 235; Dawson, 2008. P. 151.

28 Пронин, Москвитин, 2011. Рис. 2, 3, 6.

29 Han Bin Siong, 1998. P. 8–15; Dawson, 2008. P. 136–151.

30 Фуллер, Грегори, 2008; Fuller, 1986; Dawson, 2008.

31 Onura Sodzouki, 2010. Sword of a field marshal and an admiral of the fleet [Электронный ресурс]. Режим доступа: http://www.h4.dion.ne.jp/~t&ohmura/gunto_135.htm (дата обращения 03.03.2011).

32 Пронин, Москвитин, 2011. Рис. 1, 1–8.

33 Ibid. Pic. 3, 1–29.

34 Ibid. Pic. 3, 15, 16, 17.

35 Ibid. Pic. 1, 1–8; 3, 1–3, 6.

36 Ibid. Pic. 3, 12.

37 Ibid. Pic. 3, 13. 

38 Ibid. Pic. 1, 2–5; 3, 26–29.

39 Фуллер, Грегори, 2008. С. 154.

40 Han Bing Siong, 1998.

41 Фуллер, Грегори, 2008. С. 154.

42 Mountbatten, 1979.

43 Фуллер, Грегори, 2008. С. 155.

44 Mountbatten, 1979.

45 Dawson, 2008. P. 136–152.

46 Фуллер, Грегори, 2008. С. 155. Рис. 36.

47 Пронин, Москвитин, 2011. Рис. 2, 1, 2.

48 Пронин, 2011; Пронин, Москвитин, 2011.

49 Attention! Such an operation must be made by a professional and competent restorer with photographing of all actions. Authors thank Oleg V. Pronin for competentand professional help.

50 We have used special «mikalent» paper as used in archaeology for rock curvings copy. Authors thank doctor Dmitry Cheremisin for consultations and trainind provided.

51 Famous Japanese swordsmith Inoe Makai / Shinkai of XVII century (1630–1682).

52 This may be a rogin alloy, but it’s real color are different from the westen descriptions. It is much more lighter. At the same time, «a deep blackened-blue» tone of gensui-to swords of Japanese fieldmarshals and admirals [Фуллер, Грегори, 2008. С. 153–155; Dawson, 2008. P. 136–149] could be a result of an additional patined of a rogin alloy plates.

53 Пронин, Москвитин, 2011. Рис. 8, 1.

54 Ibid. Pic. 8, 2, а, б, в, г, д, е.

55 Dawson, 2008. P. 132–149; Баженов, 2001. С. 130.

56 Фуллер, Грегори, 2008. С. 17. Рис. IV.

57 Баженов, 2001. С. 130.

58 Пронин, Москвитин, 2011. Рис. 2 15, 16, 17, 19, 20.

59 Розанов, 2007. С. 64.

60 Ibid. С. 65.

61 Ibid. С. 65, 94.