Mountain Kotanto w/Antique Habaki

$540

A 124mm hammer-forged kotanto blade with Edo period habaki.

In stock

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Description

The core of this project is a charcoal-forged blade, water quenched with clay and sharpened with waterstones, an outdoor knife that has the foundation of the Japanese sword. The blade with antique Edo period habaki is ready to be mounted and finished.

Satoyama are the managed forest areas that border the cultivated fields and the mountain wilds in Japan. Historically they provided soil nutrients, firewood, edible plants, mushrooms, fish, and game, and supported many local industries and crafts such as farming, timber construction, and charcoal making. The interaction of forest, arable land, wetlands, and streams are an important component of the satoyama landscape.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Forged from a reclaimed cultivator tine, the blade profile of the mountain style kotanto is based on a kamakura sword and has more pronounced belly and wider blade. The temper of this high carbon steel blade has been left relatively hard in order to hold a keen edge.

The tang is constructed in a similar manner to a Japanese sword requiring only a single bamboo peg to hold the knife assembly together. In addition to the sense of beautiful simplicity, this design allows the knife to be taken apart for cleaning, polishing, detailed cutting tasks, or major resharpening work.

The antique habaki came from the collection of a sword restorer and is likely Edo period (~1600-1800) but may be older. The specific proportions are those that would usually be found on large tanto. Habaki make the crafting, fitting, and maintenance of the scabbard mouth much easier than when relying on the friction of the blade alone.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

The blade is just under 5″ long with an overall length of just over 8.5″. The spine is about 5mm thick at the munemachi. The edge only needs the final bevel and sharpening work. The unhardened tang is not yet drilled, the general location can be marked if requested.

Specifications

長さ/刃長 Nagasa (blade length): 124mm
重ね/元重 Motokasane (spine thickness): 5mm
元幅 Motohaba (blade width): 27.5mm
反り Sori (curve): muzori (straight)
中心/茎 Nakago (tang length): 96mm
柄長 Tsuka (handle length): none
拵全長 Koshirae (overall): none

形 Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri, iori-mune, slight ubuha (thickened edge near the machi)
刃文 Hamon (edge pattern): suguha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi (tip pattern): ko-maru
中心/茎 Nakago (tang): futsu, kuri-jiri, no mekugi-ana
銘 Mei (signature): mumei (unsigned)
拵 Koshirae (mounting): none

Materials: pre-1960’s cultivator tine, antique copper habaki


Process

This blade was forged and underwent yaki-ire at the museum forge. It began as a pre-1960s (integral) cultivator tine used by a farmer a generation or more ago.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
The pre-1960s (integral) cultivator tine that the starting material was cut from.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
During forging, a comparison with the other (lengthwise) half of the tip of the cultivator tine it started as, which later became a forest tanto.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Approaching the final dimensions.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Forging with a thin layer of water on the anvil keeps the surface smooth and clean.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
The clay mixture will control the cooling rate of the main part of the blade during yaki-ire.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
After yaki-ire–the exposed edge has cooled quickly and become very hard, able to hold a keen edge.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
The area protected by the clay layer cools about half a second slower as it hits the water and remains in a tough, ductile state.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.


**Please note that in order to preserve the patina and texture of the antique components involved in this mounting there may be minor damage, scuffs, variations in colour, and other indications of their stories over the centuries.