My nicest katana - Part 1: Koshirae
Post date: Sep 23, 2011 1:57:18 AM
I just thought I would post some pictures of one of the swords that I have. This sword is a bit on the expensive side, but it is well worth it in my opinion. I bought it because I had seen pictures and wondered if the quality of the mount was as good in the hand as in the pictures. Indeed, they are quite good. I wouldn't say I am qualified enough to judge, but in my humble opinion I'd say the fittings are good, but by no means masterful. I'll just post a few pics and comments of the koshirae (fittings/mount). Later I'll post some pictures of the blade.
Full length shot:
This kind of tsukamaki (handle wrap) is called jabaramaki. This style uses four thin cords rather than one larger flat cord to wrap the handle. It's more of a decorative style of wrap - pretty fancy and I am guessing not as durable as other methods. You can see a better shot of the jabaramaki below.
Here is a pic of the dragonfly menuki. It is handmade of shakudo with gold inlay eyes. Shakudo is a traditional Japanese copper/gold alloy used in decorative metalwork . It is purposefully patinated in a traditional manner and takes on a lovely black or purple-black hue depending on the exact alloy and patination process. I'd say this piece is good, but could be better. Certainly the eyes could have been better set, and this isn't the most detailed piece either.
I'm not entirely sure, but I think the fuchi and kashira are made of copper - perhaps shakudo. This has been patinated/antiqued. Also notice the silver inlay of Japanese calligraphy. I think the image is of an omikuji - a good luck charm - or something similar.
Kashira (same thing, different light):
A nice purple silk sageo on this one. I think it works really well.
I really like the traditional red urushi lacquer. The white/off-white flecks are actually bits if embedded eggshell. They are evocative of a starlight sky tying with the tsuba (guard).
The koijiri is a simple one - just polished water buffalo horn. I've never seen it look so nice.
The tsuba is the real gem here. It is made of Japanese tamahagane (jewel steel) - the steel used in forging nihonto blades. I like the raw look that the steel has. It's a traditional scene, and a nice one - silver inlay moon, gold inlay stars, and diagonal gashes depicting rain. I don't think the hammered rim is anything too special, but I like it quite a bit.