Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Blade for a Sword (Katana)

Blade inscribed by Masazane (Japanese, Ise, documented 1515–26)
dated 1526
L. 36 1/8 in. (91.8 cm); L. of blade edge 29 9/16 in. (75.1 cm); D. of curvature 3/32 in. (2.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gift, 2001
Accession Number:
Not on view
Masazane was a swordsmith active in the late Muromachi period in Ise (in present-day Mie prefecture). He was one of the most important swordsmiths of the Sengo Muramasa School. His best known work is a spear, the so-called Tonbogiri (dragonfly cutter), one of three famous spears, each of which was made by a renowned swordsmith.
This sword has a highly distinctive steel surface, made in the ayasugihada (concentrically curved grain) pattern. Blades with the ayasugihada pattern have been the trademark of the celebrated Gasan School of swordsmiths since the fourteenth century. This Masazane sword is the only known example of a blade with the ayasugihada pattern made by a swordsmith outside of the Gasan School. It is thus an important example of the work of Masazane and of the influence of the Gasan School on other swordsmiths. The sword is in perfect condition, is signed and dated, and has an extremely rare grain pattern, a combination of important qualities seldom found in a single sword. The tang is inscribed on the front, FUJIWARA MASAZANE SAKU (Masazane made this), and on the reverse, DAIEI ROKUNEN HACHIGATSU JŪNINICHI (August 12, 1526).
Signature: Signed on the front of the tang: FUJIWARA MASAZANE SAKU (Masazane made this); and on the reverse: DAIEI ROKUNEN HACHIGATSU JŪNINICHI (August 12, 1526).
[Art dealer, Japan, until 2001; sold to MMA].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions 1991–2002," September 4, 2002–January 18, 2004, no. 53.

Tsuchiya, Yoshinao. Tsuchiya Oshigata. Vol. 1. Tokyo: Chūō Tōkenkai, 1926. p. 218, rubbing.

Sato Kazan. Iseno Tokō. Tokyo: Otsuka Kogeisha, 1963. rubbing, n.p.

Sato Kazan. Kanzan Shoronbunshū. Tokyo: Otsuka Kogeisha, 1969. pp. 174–75, ill.

Pyhrr, Stuart W., Donald J. La Rocca, and Morihiro Ogawa. Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions, 1991–2002. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002. p. 56, no. 53, fig. 18.

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