Care and Maintenance of Samurai Sword Sets

Ranjan Shandilya Mar 20, 2019
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Here, we take you to the Land of the Rising Sun to get some more information on the famous Samurai sword.
The term Samurai was used for the military nobility in Japan. The word itself is derived from the archaic Japanese verb 'samorau' which means 'to serve'. Thus, a Samurai is the servant of the lord.
Samurai swords are universally admired pieces of Japanese antique art. The Japanese term for these swords is 'Nihonto'. These swords were the symbols of Samurai warriors who usually carried two swords―a short sword known as the 'Wakizashi', and a longer sword known as the 'Katana'.
Together, they are known as the 'Daisho'. The steel used to make these swords is known as 'Tamahagane' It takes a skilled sword maker to make strong and artistically beautiful Samurai swords.
To delve a little into the Japanese history, after a male child was born to a Samurai, the child would receive his first sword at a tender age of 5 in an elaborate ceremony. The sword was a charm sword which was covered with brocade and was worn by the child.
When the child turned 13, in another ceremony, he was handed his first sword along with armor, given a new name and would become a Samurai.

Samurai Sword Sets

These Japanese swords are unique, and over the years, sword-smiths have given them a number of features along with an impeccable profile. This is attributed to the fact that many technical innovations were devised in an effort to achieve the three conflicting practical requirements, that is solidity, rigidity, and cutting power.
One of the key elements that help in achieving this functionality is that the swords are made using two different metals which are forged and re-forged many times in order to produce a complex crystalline structure.
Further, to obtain a highly tempered edge, the rest of the blade is coated with special heat resistant clay and the exposed part of the blade is heated and quenched. This process also creates an enormous number of patterns in the steel thus ensuring that no two swords, even from the same maker, are identical.
If you have wondered as why Samurai swords have a distinctive curve away from the edge, well a lot of thought process has also gone into the same. The curved edge is a result of the need to draw the sword and strike as quickly as possible in a single continuous motion.
Some of the things that you must remember to take care of these artifacts are:

● All swords must be kept in their sword bags. The head of the sword must go in first to prevent any accident or damage in case of an accidental fall.
● Clean the blade with finely ground whetstone powder.
● Use a high quality thick paper to wipe the blade surface. This will soften and remove the coarse elements along with removing the old oil.
● If a registration card or a license is required to carry and keep the sword then it is advisable that you sew it to the sword bag.
● Re-oil the sword with a piece of paper or de-starched piece of cloth that is folded nicely and soaked in oil.
● The blade may develop rust if the scabbard touches the blade. Get it corrected by a Saya specialist.
● Under any circumstances, do not use chemicals to fasten the parts of the scabbard and the hilt.
The latest product from Hollywood that glorifies Samurai swords and also relates a little to the Samurais is the movie 'Kill Bill' by Quentin Tarantino. Although I loved the movie, this distortion of the Samurai culture continues in all cult movies that try to display a lineage and heroism associated with a Samurai.
The value of a Samurai sword in monetary terms is determined by several factors like style, condition, age, and maker. Characters present on the tang of the sword provide information about the maker and the year in which the sword was made.
This is not a hard and fast rule, as many older swords do not have the owner's name inscribed on the sword. These days most swords are machine made, and are available very easily at an affordable price.
People pay huge amounts of money to collect Samurai swords. The most popular collection era is the World War I and World War II era. Internet and auction sites are a great place to find both old and new swords, but you need to be very careful as you could be very easily cheated. Handle all the transactions cautiously.
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