Let me give you a short update on the tameshigiri project. First of all, I would like to thank you all for your great feedback! Based on this feedback, it seems that this publication was long overdue and much sought after. My particular thanks go to those who provide(d) me with reference material on cutting tests! This is the first time so far that I get references before the book is published and I am very happy about that because the publication should become a standard work and contain as much information on the subject as possible.
As for the progress, the historical part is finished now. It offers, as the name suggests, the historical background of the practice of sword tests, may it be for testing a sword blade or the cutting ability of a swordsman. This is followed by a detailed description on the shaping of systematic tameshigiri which contains information on the early systematic sword testers and their genealogy. This chapter is so to speak the prelude to the famous Yamano family of sword testers.
The next section deals with Edo-period criminal punishment, i.e. it explains when tameshigiri were performed and what was exactly the context of cutting tests, decapitation, and criminal punishment. The section also explains how the judicial system of the Edo period worked and narrates the course of events from being arrested to being beheaded.
This section is followed by a description of tameshigiri during mid-Edo times, accompanied by an introduction of the Yamada Aasaemon family which held the o-tameshi-goyô monopoly (sword testers to the bakufu). The section comes with a genealogy and an overview of the publications of the Yamada family like the famous Kaihô-kenjaku and its list of wazamono.
The next big chapter is on the testing of swords itself, i.e. testing on living persons, dead bodies, and solid targets. This chapter introduces via pictures and descriptions all the cuts (on multiple torsos for example) and preparations (of the dotan, the blade, and the like) necessary for performing valid and repeatable cutting tests.
Next will be an overview on the practice of tameshi-mei (setsudan-mei). And the end of the book will consist of a list of known sword testers accompanied by pictures and oshigata of their meshi-mei, followed by the wazamono list, sword nicknames with reference to the cutting ability of swords (like seen here), and things like that.
As I am asked about a pre-order option, I would like to use this opportunity to gratefully accomodate that wish. That means everyone who wants to place a pre-order can transfer/paypal me the amount for the book + shipping (the about 300+ pages harcover book will be 59.90 USD / 45 € and shipping flat rate 10 USD / 8 € to everywhere in the world). The plus for those pre-ordering is that they receive in return a signed copy (as soon as I have them here). The expected date for publishing will be end of June. For more details please get in touch with me via “markus.sesko[at]gmail.com”.
In this sense, once again thank you all for the feedback! Much appreciated.