My brother Eric bought himself a microscope able to take pictures. He is interested to go deep into Saotome mei, in the right sense of the word. Here are some sample pictures of an Iehisa signature. He wants to learn how the smith really chieseled the mei and if there are differences between mei of the same name, maybe able to connect the eventual differenses to "generations"
Here are some interesting observations that you never can detect on ordinary photos. The thin lines verticaly on the suji. Our idea is that the smith used these lines when aligning the rivets to make the perfect quality. Look how the line passes in the middle of the rivet. We might be absolutely wrong, it was just an idea...they seems to have a purpose.
Very interesting, Anthony. Take the character for woman above, i.e. 女 Onna, part of the name Saotome. The stroke order is 'wrong' but it may be deliberate and 'correct' for one of that family. Normally, traditionally, the first stroke is く (like hiragana Ku). Then you pull a (katakana No) ノcurved line down and to the left, crossing the Ku stroke, and finally a single one 一 across horizontally to complete the character. (In your photo it is obvious that the strokes have not been chiselled in that order.)
There is even a Japanese joke often quoted when teaching the stroke order for females, "Ku, no, Ichi", which means that women are "one of the difficulties" that men must bear in life, or even that they are the heaviest trial for a man.
Anthony, I find the approach that you and your brother are taking in your collection of Saotome most refreshing.We do ourselves a disservice to rely every time on Luc for an answer instead of researching the matter ourselves. I would not be surprised if that is also why we hear so little from Aymeric. I read somewhere in Orikasa san's book that the Japanese can look at any Oriental race and recognize from the subtleties of their appearance whether they are Japanese or not.It has become second nature to them. I do believe that experts can do the same when looking at many a mei. There are about 50 pages in the English translation of the Nihon to Koza Volume 5 which really is essential reading. It is a chapter entitled 'A Way of Looking at Gimei' and is full of examples of genuine signatures next to gimei signatures with highlights of the differences. It will give you a very good idea of what to consider when looking at a mei and comparing it with others.I will scan a couple of pages and send them to you so that you have some idea of what I mean.Peter
I read somewhere in Orikasa san's book that the Japanese can look at any Oriental race and recognize from the subtleties of their appearance whether they are Japanese or not.It has become second nature to them.
As someone of Asian background, I can tell you this is definitely true. There are very distinct differences that we can see, feel and sense immediately and intuitively in determining someone else's (i.e. another Asian's) background. In fact, I can tell the difference on sight between Chinese born and raised in Jamaica vs. Chinese nationals just by the way they move and carry themselves!