Samurai swords
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Samurai swords

Samurai Sword History
The shape of the earliest Japanese samurai sword, according to modern archeology, came from the Heaven of Swordsmanship in the Heian period, and its work is the famous Taito Ko Karasuma. Since then, after the Kamakura period, the Northern and Southern Dynasties, the Muromachi period, the Azuchi-Momoyama period, and the Edo period, the shape of the Japanese sword has gradually become what people see today. Among them, the length of the sword is also in the Azuchi-Momoyama period and Edo period. The period is regulated.

According to the development and change of the form of war and the way of use, the shape of the Japanese sword has gradually evolved. Early models had uneven curves, with the deepest part of the curve at the shank. As the times change, the center of the curve tends to move upward. Many ancient swords of the Ping An and Southern and Northern Dynasties that have grown up in bold styles have also been polished and even sharpened to shorten the length. In the Edo period, the main application of Japanese swords was no longer a battlefield function but transformed into a concrete expression tool of swordsmanship. Therefore, the Japanese samurai swords of the Edo period were much weaker than the swords of the previous era.

From the late Heian period to the Kamakura period, the Japanese sword making genres called the "Five Dens of the World", such as Yamatoden, Bizenden, Yamashiro, Soshuden, and Minoden appeared, and famous craftsmen from all over the country appeared in large numbers. Especially in Bizen country’s Osafune Town.

Ancient times

Iron swords appeared in the mid-Kofun period (456-507) in Japan, and the raw materials at that time were mainly iron smelting. For example, Saitama Gu’s Inariyama Tumulus and Shimane Gu’s Orogenic Tumulus both have iron swords unearthed. The "Jin Cuo Ming Iron Sword" unearthed from the Inari Mountain Tumulus was made in 471 AD to commemorate the service of Emperor Xionglue. 115 Chinese characters are engraved on the sword. Many swords of this era have been rusted.

The swords before the end of the Heian period were classified as ancient swords. The shape of the sword was different from the common Japanese swords, either with a straight blade or a double-edged sword. Ancient knives are extremely rare and are important archaeological materials.

The Japanese sword originated from the Tang Hengdao introduced in China. The steel forging process of the horizontal sword introduced by the mainland and North Korea is the origin of the Japanese iron sword forging process. At the same time, the fern hand sword of the Ainu people in Hokkaido belongs to the original Japanese. Its development process: ancient times Straight-edged horizontal sword-Warabi hand sword (end of Yayoi period, Kofun period-early Heian period)-hairy bracken hand sword-hairy hand sword-Taito-Taito, hit sword, rib difference, short sword.

Swords from the 7th to 8th centuries have been preserved relatively intact. The famous Bingzijiaolin Sword and Seven Star Swords from Sitianwang Temple and the Jinyintanzhuang Tang Broadsword from Zhengcangyuan. Some people think that these swords are mostly imported from China and North Korea. Japan has the deepest impression of China in ancient times from the Tang Dynasty, so "Tangren, Tangcao" and other sayings vary. Later, as long as it was imported from abroad, it was called "Tang xx", but it did not specifically refer to China. For North Korean imported products, it was also called "Tang"╳╳. First of all, the Tang sword at Zhengcangyuan was derived from This is certain for the mainland, but it is not known whether it is from China or North Korea, and there is no conclusion yet (of course, it is very likely to come from China), and the Tang-like sword refers to the Japanese sword made by Japan in accordance with the imported style. So this is very clear. Tang-like broadsword is not a Japanese product. Tang-like broadswords are Japanese products. There is very little difference between the two in terms of knife installation. One of the differences is that Tang-like broadswords have a curvature, while Tang-like broadswords are typical straight blades. weapon. Tang Dadao is not a Japanese sword, in all likelihood it is a Chinese sword. The Tang-like broadsword is the Nota sword. It is named "Tang-like" because the sword is installed in line with the Tang broadsword. However, the blade is not a straight blade, nor does it imitate the Tang Dynasty sword. In this era, Wu (general name for southeastern China) is considered the best (because charcoal and other ingredients that do not contain sulphur and other undesirable substances are used as heat sources. After the unification of the Chinese dynasty, standardized equipment was adopted and the use of sulfides was started. The coal is easy to manufacture in large quantities, so the standardized knives used by soldiers after the Southern Song Dynasty are obviously inferior to those used by Japanese samurai. Specially made swords are not necessarily, and the number of famous knives may not be less than that of Japanese famous ones. However, famous knives are mostly buried with their masters due to tradition. , It is almost impossible to pass on to the world.) To this, the ancient emperor once wrote a poem to admire. At the same time, the influx of foreign forging technology has greatly increased the forging level in Japan.

The number of swords from the early Heian period left over now is quite rare. The raw material is changed to slightly roughened milled iron, and the appearance is still rod-shaped. The academic changes in the style of Japanese swords, and the question of when and how Japan created the unique machete, have not been fully explained. It is generally believed that straight swords gradually transformed into scimitars after the Johei Rebellion and the Tenkei Rebellion occurred in the middle of the Heian period (around the 10th century). At the same time, the craftsmanship has also been changed from flat making to diamond-like pickaxe making. Improvements in the production process made the Japanese sword stronger and sharper. The typical styles of this transitional period are the "hairy-shaped big knife" made of a single piece of iron with the blade handle, and the "small Karasuma"-shaped knife with a two-edged edge structure and curved blade, and the hairy-shaped big knife. The most famous is the one used by Hidego Fujiwara from the collection of Ise Jingu.

Folding Taito era

In the late Heian period, especially during the "first nine-year battle" and the "second three-year battle" where the samurai power was the most active, the samurai mendi power increased, and the Japanese sword developed greatly. For example, Hoki and Bizen countries, which produce high-quality iron ore, as well as Yamashiro and Yamato, which are the political and cultural centers, have different genres of swordsmanship. At this time, Japanese swords are mainly used for immediate decisive battles. For the sword. The representative work of this period is the "Bozi Cut" (Hakuchi Country's Anzuna System, Japan's National Treasure) by Lai Hikaru who cut the "Sake Ton Boy" in Dajiangshan, and the "Little Fox Maru" that the fox helped to create according to legend. (The Sanjo sect system of Shancheng Kingdom was destroyed during World War II). In addition to Anzuna, Sanjo Kosakuzong in Yamashiro (present-day Kyoto) is near, and Kubi-mae Yusari, etc. are considered to be the oldest swordsmiths in existence in which the name of the producer is engraved.

The characteristics of Taito in the Heian period are: pick-made, 庵溵 (いおりむね, Iorimune), small cut first, Kyoback, narrow in front and wide in the back, and the shape of the sword is beautiful.
The Japanese sword in the early Kamakura period was similar to that in the late Heian period. The establishment of the samurai political system of the Kamakura Shogunate made the sword world very active. The Emperor Gotoba even set up a Yufan forge, and the month-month call for swordsmiths to forge knives, actively encouraging knives to be made. Emperor Gotoba himself was also an excellent swordsman. The Japanese sword he made by himself was called "Chrysanthemum Gokagi".

In the middle of the Kamakura period, due to the emphasis on usability, the width and overall width of the knife changed little. The head of the knife is the first cut of the pig, and the style is mainly strong and hard. At this time, the production of short knives began to prosper.
At the end of the Kamakura period, the two Yuan army invasions and the collapse of the original political system brought great social turmoil, which made the knife industry prosper. The Japanese sword of this period is more bold than the mid-Kamakura style. Inherited and carried forward the characteristics of wide knife width and small changes in knife body width, and the cutting is longer. Short swords, swords, and Tai swords all have the same characteristics that appear longer than other periods.

During the Northern and Southern Dynasties, a large number of large swords called Odachi and Nodachi, which were different from the past, appeared in large numbers.
After folding Muromachi

After the middle of the Muromachi period, the Japanese sword changed from a Tachi with the blade downward to a sword with the blade upward. Due to the transition into the peace period, the demand for domestic swords in Japan decreased, and Japanese swords began to be mass-produced as trade goods, so the quality of Japanese swords began to decline. In the war again triggered by the Onin Rebellion, the demand for swords has expanded again, and a large number of crude crafts have appeared to meet the demand, making the quality of Japanese swords even worse.

In the Edo period, forging industries in Edo (now Tokyo) and Osaka (now Osaka) prospered, and famous swordsmiths appeared everywhere. As the peace and prosperity continued, the Japanese sword began to blindly pursue the gorgeous blade writing, and gradually deviated from the essence of practicality. In addition, the decoration of knives such as rotunda, small handles, muguans, and 笄 began to develop in this era.

After the riots at the end of the Tokugawa period began, the restoration school advocated the ancient sword forging method, centered on Mizushinko Masahide and others, and once again carried forward the practical Japanese sword making method. The knives thereafter are called new knives. The Meiji Restoration began just as the sword making began to become prosperous again. Fighting was banned in 1873, and the abolition of swords was issued in 1876, and Japanese swords declined rapidly. Modern as a traditional craft, the ancient knife-making method is still popular everywhere.

Japanese sword grinding
Speaking of sharpening a samurai sword, something like this would appear in my mind: at noon, the chatter under the hot sun is monotonously loud, making people drowsy. The samurai sword sharpener turned out from the depths of the alley. The yellow and white grout stains on the blue apron in front of him were as mottled as the shadows of trees. Pushing the bicycle with one hand and shaking with the other, several small iron plates sounded loudly and then pulled. The voice yelled: "Grinding the scissors~~" The ending sound dragged the old elders.
The strange thing is that I have never seen a young samurai sword sharpener in my memory. All the samurai sword sharpeners in my memory are old people, and they are all summer scenes. I don't know why.
Now this situation is almost invisible, and many people don't even know that there is such a career. At least in big cities.
Because the sharpening stones are all purchased from abroad, I wanted to see if there are suitable and replaceable products in the domestic market. Who knows that there are only one or two most basic synthetic stones in the domestic market, but they are not suitable. . Once I met a master sharpener on the side of the road and asked if there were places where I could buy more varieties of stone stones. The old man replied that there were only these kinds of stones. After getting this answer, disappointment in my heart is certainly one of them, but it is more of inexplicable melancholy, and mixed with a little loss.
At that moment, I was in a trance.
No matter what kind of knives are forged and used for a long time, they must be ground-even modern technology products, such as some German Zwilling knives. Zwilling users have free grinding services for life, but its tool grinding is already a modern technology category, and is no longer a traditional manual technique.
It is precisely because as long as it is a samurai sword, it must be ground, so the history of the grinder profession is at least as long as the history of metal weapons. The grinding records in the history of our country can be traced back to the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period at the earliest. The clear record of the grinder appeared in the Han Dynasty.
In the Han Dynasty, tool grinding was called "sharp cutting", also called "sharp cutting", "li" combined with "strength". The origin of the word is that the grinding work needs to be carried out while sprinkling water, so it is called this.
Sima Qian once said in "Historical Records: The Biographies of Huo Shishi": "The husband is slender and healthy, and the right way to cure health, and the rich must use surpassing...sparing, thinning skills, and Zhishi Dingshi...Ma doctor, shallow Fang, Zhang Li strikes the bell. This is all due to sincerity." This passage means that living by labor is the right way to live, and those who have achieved achievements must be outstanding. For example, Zhishi relied on grinding techniques to set the tripods for food, Zhang Li relied on doctors and horses to beat the clock to eat, these are all riches gained by concentrating on the treatment of art. This is also the source of the idiom "Zhongming Ding Shi".
Another record related to the grinder is still from the "Historical Records", and it also involves a big case of the Han Dynasty royal family-the assassination of Minister Yuan An by the Emperor Xiao of the Han Dynasty. At that time, Emperor Jing of the Han Dynasty was in power, and Queen Mother Dou hoped that Emperor Jing would be succeeded by King Liang Xiao. Yuan An and other ministers thought it was impossible. After King Liang Xiao learned about it, he sent an assassin to murder Yuan An and a dozen other ministers. Yuan An was killed, and the assassin's sword was left on Yuan An's body. The investigators used this sword to visit the sharp workers in Chang'an, that is, the grinder. One of the grinders said that he recognized the sword, and the people in the Liang Xiao Prince's Mansion had used it to grind it. So the murder case was solved.
From these records, we can know that since at least the Han Dynasty, the grinder has been an independent profession with a high income. And from the works of Cao Zhao, Tang Shunzhi, Mao Yuanyi and others in the Ming Dynasty, such as "Where swords are polished and polished with silicium alum, the flowers can be seen" "Sword flower, ram's horn calcined ash, powder heart water is sour, sour grass Looking at the terms "burning ashes, nitrating sauce" and so on, we can also know that grinding is not just about sharpening the samurai sword, it also has aesthetic requirements. In order to meet this requirement, multiple complex processes are required.
These records also indicate the trend of ancient sword grinding in my country. As late as the Ming Dynasty, the grinding method of Damascus pattern steel has been more inclined. This may be related to the large amount of iron imported from the Western Regions in the Tang and Song Dynasties, and it must be related to Chinese steel. Smelting is generally related to the use of steel filling methods-but this is another very complicated topic, so the space is limited and I won't say much.
Although from historical data, the Chinese samurai sword grinding technique was once very advanced, but nowadays, it has become a very crude and simple labor with neither cultural connotation nor technical content. This is a fact without any doubt.
In Japan across the water, the grinder has been a noble profession since the Muromachi era. It has been continuously recorded in the annals of history, and it has been recited, admired, and established. The social status of a professional researcher in Japan is not under that of a professor at Tokyo University. Corresponding to this, Japanese samurai sword grinding is already a skill with a complete cultural and technological system that is almost independent of samurai sword manufacturing, and is a great national cultural heritage.
For the same skill, the fundamental reason for the difference between the two countries is the difference in values ​​and spirit, or the difference in national character.
In the history of our country, handicraftsmen and some other technical professions, even doctors, have held an attitude of contempt for a long time, even if they are indispensable and vital. In the history of science and technology celebrities, only one Mozi can be given political, cultural, and social status. But this is also because his sideline is a science and technology worker, and the Zhengxing is still a scholar. Even if other people are as famous as Hua Tuo, they can't help being ashamed of being a doctor and wanting to go to politics, and eventually lose their lives.
This is the so-called "everything is inferior, only reading is high", and my country’s handicrafts and the entire technology industry have a very well-known word positioning, called "splendid skills and cleverness", only from this word, we can know the predecessors Attitude too. Therefore, the status and identity of practitioners are even more intractable. And the consequence of this attitude is that countless unworldly skills that could have been carried forward and even passed on to future generations were finally wiped out.
However, in ancient Japan, due to its special national and social system, as well as the limitations of environmental resources and other factors, they have always respected technical workers. Since Emperor Toba established the "Goban Kaiye" system, more Raising the status of swordsmiths and grinders to a considerable height, close to nobles, greatly protected and promoted the development of sword making and grinding techniques. At the same time, the group of Japanese samurai sword makers and grinders have always adhered to a persistent traditional belief, and mostly set the goal of life to be able to create and develop the most beautiful samurai sword. For example, countless researchers have regarded the Sui and Tang knives and other national treasure knives that can grind Zhengcangyuan as the highest achievement in life, and this will not make them more expensive and better in life. Because it is almost impossible for a researcher to increase the number of grinding per month, and the price is basically fixed, this will not bring them too many practical benefits.
This kind of pure persistence and belief is purer and less utilitarian than many scholars today.
All kinds of differences eventually made the samurai sword-making and grinding techniques of China and Japan embark on two completely different paths, and also led them to their respective prosperity and decline.
What is gratifying is that in recent years in China, some people with lofty ideals have been continuously researching and restoring ancient Chinese grinding techniques, as well as learning Japanese grinding techniques. As far as I know, there are at least four excellent grinders in China, all of whom have achieved considerable success. Mr. Zheng Xiaozhong, a grinder in Beijing, because I often discuss, experiment, and learn about ancient Chinese and Japanese sword grinding with him, so I know more about each other. Here I will borrow some of his work scenes and tool pictures to do some display, and make a preliminary analysis of Japanese sword grinding.
Japanese tool grinding technology and occupations, according to written records, the book "Yanxi Style", which first appeared in the tenth century, was developed after China's Sui and Tang Dynasties, so it is likely to be imported from the mainland together with smelting and forging technology. . The Japanese tool manufacturing technology only embarked on its own development path after the Sui and Tang Dynasties. Before, it completely copied China and followed suit. Even the shape and system are almost the same. This is also a supplementary evidence.
Japanese swordsmanship has always insisted on low-temperature smelting and low-temperature forging. Compared with high-temperature smelting and high-temperature forging products, this low-temperature product can show exceptionally rich and gorgeous forging patterns and quenching patterns after being processed by Japanese grinding techniques. Therefore, from the beginning, the forging technology of Japanese swordsmiths and the grinding technology of the researcher showed a state of being complementary and mutually dependent. In the Meiji period, Heijuro, a famous Japanese appreciator and polisher of the Honami family, finally turned it into an independent art. This makes Japanese sword making and grinding techniques two independent, complete systems, and interdependent manual arts.
Japanese samurai sword grinding is a very complicated manual skill. A good researcher can study a good samurai sword for several months, because it is more than just sharpening the samurai sword.
Japan is a country with many volcanoes. Many of the whetstones for grinding Japanese swords are volcanic stones. The Japanese even specially summarized and developed a lot of ground stone veins, some of which are as high as 6000 meshes, which are extremely delicate. Of course, these stones are also quite expensive, usually in grams, which ordinary people cannot afford. This is one of the reasons why were usually used by samurai and nobles in ancient Japan. Because the daily maintenance cost of the samurai sword is too high, even now, the most common grinding cost of a Japanese sword has to cost the Japanese one month's salary.
Next, let's take a look at how a good researcher does this work.
Neihu on the basis of weight. This is the big material before cutting. When using it, you must carefully remove the stone ribs and cut them into thin pieces for use. Otherwise, it will scratch the sharpened tool and cause the previous effort to be reworked. If the damage is serious, even start from scratch.
Every samurai swordmaker has his own style, such as where he uses the ore, what method he uses to smelt, how to take the material, forge, and quench, almost all of them are different. And these differences can and must be expressed through the grinding of the researcher.
When an excellent researcher gets a samurai sword, the first thing he needs to move is not his hands, but his eyes and brain. He must first judge what period it is, whose work, at least what genre of work, and observe what flaws and damages are, and then decide what research method to use in order to better express all the contents of the samurai sword. Of course, it is really impossible to judge, and you can proceed to the next step, but this does not guarantee that the style of the work will be highlighted to make it more distinctive.
According to the Hon Ami family, the researcher can't do it first when he gets a samurai sword. Instead, he should look at it for ten days, or even twenty days, until he can penetrate the samurai sword. This is almost Zen.
I need to say a few digressions here. I wrote this article with the intention of spreading knowledge. But after it was published on Sina, many readers sneered at this passage. The implication was to look at the matter for dozens of days. It was purely Japanese fooling, and Zen was even more nonsense. Therefore, I have to say that there are indeed many things in this world that can never be understood or experienced with the wisdom and taste of some people. This is a pity. That is to say, I have so many swords in my collection, and I can look at them for many days with just one bite in my hand. After so many years, I often look at each item and look at it for so many years. So, in my opinion, they can’t do it because their aesthetics and experience are far from reaching the level of appreciation, and they simply don’t have the qualifications to evaluate a subject that requires a lot of knowledge and a strong aesthetic ability. Traditional skills. Sorry, this seems to make some friends uncomfortable, but I don't want to tactfully, because this is my true thoughts. I don't need and don't want to do any tolerance for those who are completely incapable of dialogue with me. They are not worthy.
Therefore, a good researcher must first be an art connoisseur, who must be familiar with the various schools of history and the personal style of the samurai swordmaker.
The first stage of abrasion surgery is cosmetic surgery. The number of steps in this stage varies depending on the target. For example, if a newly forged samurai sword is reground with a finished samurai sword, there is a difference. For newly-made knives, there is no need to remove floating rust on the surface and rust spots that may penetrate into the blade, but to correct some forging defects, such as forging marks or uneven pick lines, which requires the use of multiple tools and processes. There may be other problems with antique knives, such as side bending, which cannot be returned to the furnace or cold forged, otherwise it will seriously damage the samurai sword body or even change the crystal structure, so it is a very technical process. How to do it specifically is the secret of the researchers. In order to respect their hard work and crystallization, I will leave some mysteries.
After the initial plastic surgery is over, it is the beginning of grinding in the true sense.
From then on, Japanese sword grinding is usually divided into two major stages and seven major steps, in which a variety of whetstones and other materials are used. What I am talking about here is actually a relatively concise process.
The first stage, also the first major step, is called "Xiadi Research". The main purpose is to sort out the shape and grind out the preliminary form of the work.
The first to go to the stone is "Iyoto", which is produced in the Matsuyama area of ​​Ehime Prefecture, and there are also "Omura toto". Nowadays, artificial diamond stones are also used. This type of stone stone is generally referred to as "waste stone", with a fineness of about 400 mesh, relatively hard texture, good cutting ability, and can remove various hard rust marks on the surface and carry out greater shaping of the tool.
After finishing the surface with Arato, you need to replace it with "Preparation of water". Bisuitobe is produced in the Amakusa area of ​​Kumamoto Prefecture. The mesh number is still about 400 meshes, but the hardness is not very high, so it can clean up the traces left by the previous step, and at the same time trim the shape of the samurai sword and large defects. Such as repairing straight pick lines, building lines, etc. Because the following stone is not capable of doing this kind of trimming, if this step is not handled well, it is likely to be reworked in the end.
After removing the traces of the waste stone with the prepared water stone, and then use the "correction stone" to grind the tool out of the preliminary cutting edge and pick ground, the tool began to appear the prototype of the samurai swordman's personal style. Gaijinto is produced in Yamagata Prefecture, with a thickness of about 600 meshes and a relatively hard texture.
Once the samurai sword is developed, it means that the grinding process of the big action will be over. After that, it will be more detailed grinding, and basically begin to enter the category of artistic creation.

The next toe stone used is called "Nakura Toto" or "Kanda Tostone". The first "Nakamura" is used first, with a thickness of about 800-1200 mesh; the next one is "Shinakura" with a thickness of 1500-2000. Item. Both of these types of stone have a hard texture. Some are produced in Minamishitara County, Aichi Prefecture, Sanhe is also produced, and Tsushima's "Kuranakura" is also available. The function is to divide the ground and edge text of the samurai sword more clearly, but the effect is somewhat different, depending on the object and the required effect. The output of this kind of stone is relatively scarce, so the price is also expensive.
Here, I need to explain the difference between artificial and natural stone. In the first few steps, the difference is not big due to the relatively thick whetstone used, but at this step, the difference appears.
The softness and fineness of natural stone, even if the mesh number is the same, is not comparable to that of artificial stone. And because the natural whetstone contains some special chemical components, the color of the tool will also show subtle changes. In the grinding process, the knives made of natural stone are not easy to rust. If you finish the work today, and rust will appear on the knives tomorrow, it will be a big trouble. Sometimes, even half an hour after stopping work, rust will appear on the tool. Therefore, it is troublesome to use artificial whetstone and oil once it stops working.

But the shortcomings of natural whetstone lies in its softness and fineness. This slows down the progress of the work and consumes much energy. However, for a really good grinding, natural whetstone must be used from beginning to end. If the conditions are poor, at least from Nakura to use natural stone.

The use of natural or artificial stone, not only involves the delicate performance of the tool's characteristics, but also involves various issues such as the difference in the blade and the color of the tool. Therefore, not only the price difference is huge, but the final performance of the tool
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