An intimate look at an Edo katana

An intimate look at an Edo katana

I’ve recently had the pleasure of examining my first antique Japanese katana. It was a deep experience for me to handle a weapon that was undoubtedly carried at one time by a Samurai warrior several hundred years ago… most likely during the Edo period of Japan. While not an exceptional example in terms of the mountings, they carry the mark of a skilled craftsman. Smelted iron with a clouds and waves motif decorated by nonume zogan gold overlay. The blade itself, however, carries the mark of mastery. The steel called ‘tamahagane’,smelted from the black sands of Japan, has such fine grain structure that it cannot be seen without the aid of contrasting light. The hamon pattern streaks like a line of fire across the blade and seems perfect to me in it’s repetitive patterns and fine detail. This pattern in the steel represents the chaotic boundary between hard and soft steel and is almost like the stormy meeting of two weather fronts in the Earth’s atmosphere. The hamon is controlled by the smith using the application of fine clay and, in this case, is an indicator of the masterful skill of the smith who heat treated this blade.

These pictures are not meant to ‘document’ this blade.. but to open a tiny window into the fine details of the Japanese sword. There is not a picture of the whole sword.. just a sumi ink brush outline. Use these details and let your imagination take you back.

Whole

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blade1

blade2

blade4

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kissaki

ferrule

ferrule2

ferrule3

habaki1

habaki2

menuki

nakago

tsuba1

tsuba2

tsuba5

tsuka1

3 Comments

  1. The blade would benefit greatly from a polish from a documented polisher

    • Scott Roush

      I very much agree. However it is not my blade… I was just documenting it as it is now and how it was when it left Japan after WWII. I would love to see it go to a polisher…

  2. its amazing!! Iv been lucky enuff to handle blades between 200 and 500 years old it never stops amazing Me the eligance and stature that still comes out . your photo work is wonderful
    Mike

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