A pairing of an uchigatana koshirae (打刀拵) with a wakizashi koshirae (脇指拵) having the same metal fittings, lacquer coating of the saya, and hilt wrapping are called a daisho koshirae (大小拵). The wearing of the daisho was the privilege of the Samurai class as they were the only class that was allowed to own and wear a sword of more than two shaku in length (katana and/or tachi). When we speak of a daisho, we are almost always referring to the koshirae rather than the blades. Of course, during the Shintô and Shinshintô times sword smiths did occasionally at special request make a matched set of two swords to be worn in matching koshirae as a daisho, this was a very rare occurrence.
It was a much more common practice for a Samurai to have matching koshirae made for his katana and wakizashi or katana and tantô even though they were seldom blades by the same maker. For this reason, and for the purpose of this offering, we will refer to a daisho as being a matching set of koshirae. It is very difficult to find a true daisho of koshirae these days. What we often find are “put together’ sets of similar kodogu with the same motif, by the same school, etc.; not true daisho that were actually made for and worn by Samurai during the Edo era.
This is a true daisho of koshirae made for a Samurai and having no decoration other than his family crest on each and every piece of kodogu. What is even more exciting is the fact that it is complete and in an excellent state of condition. You will see from the photographs below that even includes a matching kozuka and waribashi kogai (it is made in two pieces that can be separated to become chop sticks), everything is present and original.
Both saya are identically lacquered. They are red with a black stripe extending partially down the back ridge of the saya. There are a very few and very minor chips in the lacquer. They are difficult to notice.
Of course, we must not neglect the blades contained within these mountings as they are very nice also. Both of these blades are mumei (unsigned) and in good polish. The katana is quite long with a nagasa of 27 3/8 inches or 69.5 cm. The moto-haba is 1.14 inches or 2.9 cm and the saki-haba is 0.88 inches or 2.2cm. The kasane is 0.29 inches or 0.7 cm. The sori is a shallow torii sori measuring 0.49 inches or 1.25 ca. Since it is greatly shortened (o-suriage), much of the original sori has been lost. This blade must have been a real monster before shortening.
The jigane is a flowing itame with areas of o-mokume. The hamon is a shallow notare nie-deki midare with nijuba, profuse nie in and around the habuchi. The bôshi is slightly o-maru with a short kaeri. My first impression of this katana is that it is from the late Muromachi era, but more study will have to be done.
The wakizashi is also mumei, but it is ubu (unshortened). It has a nagasa (cutting edge) of 17 15/16 inches or 45.5 cm. The moto-haba is 1.11 inches or 2.82 cm and the saki-haba is 0.78 inches or 2.0 cm. The kasane is 0.26 inches or 0.6 cm. The sori is a slight koshi-zori measuring 0.40inches or 1.01 cm. As I stated it is ubu and it has one mekugi-ana.
The jigane is itame with a few areas of mokume. The hamon is a robust chôji–midare that reminds us of the Shinto Ishido school who works are copies of the Bizen Ichimonji school of the Kamakura and Nanbokuchô eras. The bôshi is ko-maru with a short kaeri on both sides. This wakizashi does have one blemish in the skin steel right on the shinogi line on the omote side. I took care to make sure that this was readily visible in the photos below. It is very minor and does not detract greatly from an otherwise beautiful sword.
Neither of these swords have been submitted for papers, they are just as I bought them from an old collection. As you can see, each blade has a shirasaya and the daisho koshirae have tsunagi so that they can be displayed safely with the blades stored elsewhere.
To sum it up, this is a very attractive daisho that would make a great addition to any collection, that of the seasoned collector or someone starting out who would want a genuine set of swords actually worn by a Samurai.
This set is being offered at a very reasonable price. Finding sets like this in this condition is becoming very difficult these days. Just the daisho koshirae by itself would cost you over $4,000.00 if you can find one. Add in the cost (value) of the two swords, shirasaya, polishes, etc. and you will see that this is quite a good value.