The Legend of Masamune Sword Smith

Just like in music there are such classics as Bach and Beethoven, Japanese sword-making exist some names that are associated with exquisite perfection and art. Masamune is definitely one of them. His swords are famous for quality and originality and are considered as an example of that fine art of sword-making. What is most amazing is that at 13th century there weren’t any sophisticated forging tools and steel used for sword-making was as a rule impure. Nevertheless, many sword-makers today can’t compete with Masamune swords when it comes to elegance, nie (martensitic crystals in pearlite) and what’s most important – quality.

At that time Japan was threatened by the Mongols so sword smiths were quite busy. A sword in hands of one samurai capable of killing ten thousand Mongols and beautiful enough as to wear it with pride – that was main requirement of samurais ordering swords and Masamune was the best at it.

There aren’t many swords signed by Masamune. You may have heard about some of them, such as “Daikoku Masamune” or “Fudo Masamune”. All of Masamune swords, 50 of them that survived to the present, are legally certified as state property of Japan or imperial regalia. That is why it is possible to see them only at exhibitions or sword shows. So next time you see an advertisement of such exhibition having Masamune name in it, don’t think twice and go for it – you may not have another chance to see Masamune sword.

Goro Nyudo is Masamune’s historical name. Historians believe he lived and worked in Sagami Province during 1288-1328 being taught by such famous sword smiths as Kunimitsu and Kunitsuna. Having worked with them Masamune learned their techniques and developed them creating the Soshu school of sword-making. There is a legend about Masamune’s jittetsu (followers/disciples). They were 10 as the saying goes and they studied the art of sword-making with Masamune implementing their own ideas and methods of b日本物業代理 blade forging. Probably it was one of the first kind of workshops attended not only by beginners, but experienced and well-known sword smiths.

During 13th century Japanese samurai expected a weapon to be functional and beautiful at the same time that is why Masamune just like other sword smiths of that period had to accomplish this rather difficult task. Apart from their quality and elegance Masamune swords are famous for unique nie. Nie represents areas of glowing structure of crystalline embedded in temper line (hamon) or part of the blade between its ridgeline and temper line (ji). It’s a result of steel interaction during process of quenching. In general the heated blade was covered with clay layers of different thickness and used in patterns followed by cold water quenching. Color contrast of the metal increased with different time of cooling creating light gray swirling patterns. When you look at them the first association that comes to your mind is moving clouds. This is one of the main features that distinguishes Masamune swords and makes them almost perfect.

Masamune swords have the biggest number of references in the catalogue of “Japanese swords of all times” (Kyoho Meibutsu Cho). His swords were believed to contain spiritual powers and there are many stories saying only people with pure soul were able to wield them.


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