The Yamato Tegai (大和手搔) School got its name from the fact that its workshop was built in front of the gate Tengai-mon belonging to the Tôdaiji Temple in Nara. The first generation Kanenaga (包永) who worked around 1288-1293 is known to be the founder of the Yamato Tegai (大和手搔) School of sword making. The smiths of this school all used the same character. “Kane” (包) in their works. Some of the other smiths were Kanekiyo (包清), Kanesada (包貞), Kanezane (包真), Kanetsugu (包次), Kanetoshi (包俊), and Kanemitsu (包光). One of the later smiths, Kaneuji (包氏), left the Tegai tradition to study the Sôshû tradition with Masamune (正宗). He later moved to Mino and founded the new sword making tradition of Mino. Around then he changed the character “Kane” in his mei from (包) to (兼),the one we are familiar with for all succeeding Mino smiths. Tegai Kaneuji (手搔包氏) was also known as Shizu (志津). We call swords made by Kaneuji (包氏) while he was living in Nara, Yamato Shizu (大和志津) swords.
Of the smiths of this school, the first generation Kanenaga (包永) left a fair number of signed examples of his work. Most have been greatly shortened with the two characters of his name being found at the very bottom of the nakago. There are only two known examples of intact nakago surviving and, unfortunately, one of them has been re-tempered. The works of the first generation Kanenaga (包永) are known to be the best the school produced. The name, Kanenaga (包永), was used by succeeding generations of smiths into the Sue-Kotô period.
The Yamato Tegai (大和手搔) School continued to produce swords from the Kamakura through the Nanbokuchô eras. At the end of the Nanbokuchô period, the school became less active; however, there are unbroken lineages of smiths such as Kanekiyo, who continued to produce works into the late Muromachi period. By the middle of the Muromachi period, the school once again became more active and began to prosper. The revived school is called the Sue-Tegai (末手掻) School. We will discuss this later school in a bit.
More than any of the other schools of the Yamato tradition, the Tegai (手搔) School swords most closely follow what we call the traditional Yamato characteristics. Below I have outlined the most important of those characteristics:
SUGATA: The shape of Tegai School works is what we have come to know as typical Yamato. They are shinogi-zukuri with irori-mune. The shinogi is remarkably high with a wide shinogi-ji, and the blades are thick. There is a marked curvature with torîzori. Tantô were not produced by the first two generations of Kanenaga smiths of the Tegai School. Almost all of the tantô produced by the third generation Kanenaga will be hira-zukuri, and there are no kanmuriotoshi-zukiri tantô. One of the earliest examples of a tantô is signed Kanekiyo and dated 1329 or late Kamakura period.
JITETSU: The kitae is most commonly a tight, yet beautiful, ko-itame hada with an occasional mixing in of ô-hada. Generally speaking, however, the hada will not be as tight or as beautiful as the Awataguchi School. Also, those with a mixture of a hint of masame are common especially in the later generations. Kanenaga is generally known for the crisp and clear nature of his jigane that contains powerfully beautiful ji-nie. The pronounced display of nie grains in the ji is another characteristic of this school.
HAMON: While the temper lines of the Tegai School tend to be a narrow chû-suguha based with hotsure,uchinoke and nijûba consisting of nie. Often, particularly in the works of the Shodai Kanenaga, a slight ko-notare and ko-gunome aspect to the hamon will be found. One of the traits of his blades is that often there are significant differences in the shape of the hamon from one side to the other. All will have extremely bright nie present in abundant quantities. Occasionally there is ara-nie present. Present in the hamon you will find hotsure, uchinoke, yubashira, inazuma, kinsuji, and other activities.
BÔSHI: A powerful nie covering and yakizume are the most common traits found in this school’s bôshi. Occasionally, nijûba will also be present. Some have a very short kaeri and are completely hakikake. The kaeri when present is short. They are generally chû-kissaki.
NAKAGO: The nakago of tachi will be long while in tantô they appear to be a bit stubby. Most of the surviving works are ô-suriage with the original nakago lost; the couple of surviving ubu examples have a kurijiri tip, round mune, and the yasurime done in takanoha (hawk feathers).
MEI: Generally, and perhaps without exception, the signatures of the smiths of this school are two-character (ni-ji mei). The first character of the name will be “Kane” (包).
Nihonto.com is extremely pleased to offer for sale an excellent example of the Yamato Tegai school for sale at this time. This blade was awarded the coveted rank of Jûyô Tôken (Important Sword) at the 21st shinsa in 1973. The translation of the description given in the Jûyô documents is as follows:
Designated Jûyô Tôken at the 21st Shinsa of March first, the 48th year of Shôwa (1973)
Katana, Unsigned, Tegai
Measurements: Length: 69.4 cent.; Curvature: 1.4 cent.; Width at Base: 2.85 cent.; Width at Point: 1.9 cent.; Kissaki Length: 3.5 cent.; Nakago Length: 20.5 cent.; Nakago Curvature: 0.1 cent.
Characteristics: The construction is shinogi-zukuri with an iori-mune. The blade is somewhat wide, and the shinogi is high. The curvature is shallow, and there is a chû-kissaki. The kitae is tight masame-hada that is covered in ji-nie. The hamon is sugu in style that is covered in ko-nie. There is a slight hint of uchinoke, and the nioiguchi is vivid. The bôshi is sugu with a ko-maru and brushing. The nakago is ô-suriage with a kurijiri end, and katte-sagari yasuri-me. There are two mekugi-ana, and the blade is unsigned.
Explanation: This is an ô-suriage mumei blade that is considered to be by a Tegai smith. This work, in comparison to those in this same school is somewhat plain. Moreover, because of the style of workmanship in the ji-ha, it displays the characteristics of Tegai School works dating from the late Kamakura period into the Nanbokuchô period. The entire blade is healthy and the workmanship is superb.
This blade is in excellent polish and ready to enjoy. It comes in an old shirasaya with a sayagaki by Sato Sensei, one of the founders of the NBTHK and it has a two piece gold habaki. This is a wonderful example of this school of sword-making and would enhance any collection. It is being offered at an excellent price. We recommend this sword to both the new and advanced collector.
NBTHK JÛYÔ TÔKEN CERTIFICATION DOCUMENTS