The Taema school (当麻系) is one of the five schools of the Yamato (大和) tradition. The others are the Senjuin (千手院), Tegai (手蚤), Hosho (保昌), and Shikkake (尻懸).
It is commonly believed that the Taima school (当麻系) belonged to the Taima-ji (当麻寺), a branch temple of the Kôfukuji affiliated Ichijô´in (一乗院), located in the village of Taima in Kitakatsuragi district (北葛城) close to the foot of the Nijôzan (二上山). The characters (当麻) can be pronounced as “Taema” or “Taima”, and Kuniyuki (国行) is regarded as the founder of the school, active at the end of the Kamakura period, around Shôô (正応, 1288-1293). Other smiths from this school were for example Tomokiyo (友清), Tomoyuki (友行), Tomonaga (友長), Kunikiyo (国清), Arihôshi (有法師) etc., but already the “Genki-gannen tôken-mekiki-sho” mentions that there are only few signed blades extant by Kuniyuki and other Taima smiths.
For your consideration, we present this beautiful example of workmanship from the Taema school of the Yamato tradition of the Kamakura era. This blade was designated by the NBTHK in 2007 to be a Jûyô Tôken (Important Sword). The translation of the Jûyô zufu is as follows:
Designated Jûyô Tôken at the 53rdShinsa of 24 October, the 19thyear of Heisei (2007)
Katana, Unsigned; Taema (当麻).
Measurements: Length: 71.2 cent.; Curvature: 2.05 cent.; Width at Base: 2.83 cent.; Width at the Point: 2.05 cent.; Kissaki Length: 4.17 cent.; Nakago Length: 19.5 cent.; Nakago Curvature: extremely slight.
Characteristics: The construction is shinogi-zukuri with an iori-mune. The width and thickness are average. There is slight difference in the width between the base of the blade and the point. The curvature is somewhat deep, and the chû-kissaki is long. The kitae is itame mixed with mokume with a prominent hada pattern that it is entirely flowing with a mixing in here and there of masame. The jigane is thickly covered in ji-nie, and there is chikei activity. The hamon is suguha in style and thickly covered in nioi and nie. There is slight hotsure activity in the habuchi. There is kinsuji activity and streaks of sunagashi. The nioiguchi has a subdued feeling. The bôshi on the omote side is sugu in style with a slightly pointed tip and short kaeri, and on the ura side, it is notare-komi with a slightly ko-maru tip, vigorous brushing and a short kaeri. There are bôhi with soe-bi carvings on both sides of the blade that taper off onto the nakago. The nakago is ô-suriage with a kiri tip and kiri yasuri-me. There are three mekugi-ana, and the blade is unsigned.
Explanation: The Taema School is one of the five Yamato schools with Kuniyuki (国行)as the founder. The school prospered from the late Kamakura period into the Nambokuchô period. In such sources as the Meikan, numbers of sword-smith names in the school are shown; however, there are very few signed extant works with the majority being unsigned attributions. Based on such early attributions by the Honami family and others, the nie in the ji-ha is conspicuously powerful, and there is a mixing in of chikei and kinsuji activity, which appears to be a blending of Sôshû characteristics. Although there are differences in the styles of workmanship in the very few signed works, we can speculate that in the past, there was probably extant signed works that provided additional examples.
As for this katana, there are such features as the kitae being itame with a mixing in of flowing hada, the hamon being a sugu tempering in which hotsure and nijû-ba appears, and, in addition, the bôshi also has hotsure, giving it Yamato characteristics. Moreover, it has the exquisiteness of the jigane being thickly covered in ji-nie and containing chikei activity, the habuchi being thickly covered in nie, and having such activity as kinsuji and streaks of sunagashi, which gives it an additional Sôshû-den coloring, resulting in the Taema attribution. The condition of the blade is excellent, and it a masterpiece among attributed works in the same school.