Katana sword is arguably the most favorite sword for the enthusiasts. A majority of them agrees that it is the greatest sword of all time.
Well, one reason is that it was the sword of the great warriors, the Samurais.
We all know how powerful and skillful Samurais were. They were awesome, weren’t they? But, even more awesome was their katana swords.
With this sword in their hands, they defeated their enemies with ease. There was a time when Samurais were undefeatable, mainly due to the powerful swords they have.
A katana is considered to be extremely powerful. It features a very thick blade and usually very lengthy. The blade is longer than the usual blades possessed by the swords.
The most recognizable part of a katana sword is its curved blade. There is a slight curve at the bottom of the blade which makes it recognizable. This curve amplified it strength and makes it deadly and threatening.
As of today, no more brutal sword is constructed. Katana was indeed a masterpiece.
Much is debated about the Samurais and brutality of the katana. Meanwhile, many people are unfamiliar with the history of this sword. People still don’t know how their favorite sword came into existence.
In this article, we are focusing on the origin and history of the katana sword. We shall explore the facts associated with this sword. There is an explanation of the construction of this sword as well.
So, let’s explore the history of this sword and see how modern katana differs from the earliest ones!
The Earliest Katana Sword
The earliest katana sword was nothing different from the ones we have today in the market. It was also similarly curved at the bottom of the blade.
The earliest constructed katana blades had lengths ranging between 60 and 76 cm.
The lengths of the swords including the handles ranged between 90 and 100 cm.
If we go back to the history when katana sword was first being forged, the unit for measuring the sword length was shaku. The length of a typical sword blade was 2 to 2.5 shaku. However, this length of sword was known as a short wakizashi.
In the case length of the blade exceeded 2.5 shaku, this sword was then the rolled katana or tati. Tati, however, had more curve compared to katana.
Towards the end of the 15th century, katana became the most popular sword, specifically in the Asian continent. It was being considered a consequence of the tati sword’s evolution.
Warriors continued using katana till the late 19th century.
Katana was ao considered an iconic samurai sword, But, wakizashi was another samurai sword.
Everyone is aware of the fact that for a great period of time, swords remained the primary fighting weapons for the warriors. But, they were replaced by firearms after the advancement in the technology.
Getting back to our main focus i-e katana sword. It was pretty similar to a popular sword Mia Tao. This was a chinese sword and katana pretty much resembled this sword.
Katana had a less curved blade compared to many curved swords. The length was around 2 to 2.5 shaku, but the length of handles varied.
Also, the earliest katana was a lot heavier than many other swords of that time. The weight ranged from 750 g to 1000 g.
A lovely sheath known as Saja, made of varnished wood, was used to cover the sword.
Katana As the Great Samurai Sword
Katana is often associated with samurais, and we actually know it as one of the samurai swords. Well, that’s right because samurais were the warriors who always stayed equipped with katana swords.
Katana was adopted as a primary fighting weapon by the samurais. They fought battles with this sword and secured victories over the enemies.
However, during the 15th century, many also used it as a cutting weapon.
Katana sword was forged in two ways, one with two handles and the other with a single handle.
Another thing worth a mention here is the katana art which became famous during the late 15th century and early 16th century.
The katana art was a typical Japanese sword art. The idea was that during an attack, a sword’s longitudinal axis goes to the target along its plane, rather than the right angle, leading to cutting strokes. In fact, this was the reason behind the curve at the bottom of the blade.
There were different fighting techniques and fencing techniques practiced by the samurais.
A well-known martial artists revealed that working with katana and other samurai swords like wakizashi is similar to techniques such as eskrima. These are the techniques that include combat.
Other techniques practiced with katana sword include laido, kenjutsu, and kendo. These techniques are still practiced in Japan, but now as a sports discipline.
Samurais used to wear katana and wakizashi on the left side. However, they were always concealed under a sheath. The blade was pointing upwards and was laid down the girdle.
This was a fundamental way of wearing a concealed katana. This method was adopted after the end of Sangoku wars towards the end of the 17th century.
The art of swordship was not all about using the sword for attacking and counter attacking.
Wearing the sword in an acceptable manner was an indication of the skills of a warrior.
When Samurais entered their houses, the way they handled their katanas was highly crucial. But, generally they used to take out their swords from their belts.
In the case of serious conflict, they held the swords in their left hands.
When the sword was held in the left hand by a Samurai, it was an indication of danger. That meant an alert. The sword held in the right hand meant trust.
In the case of wakizashi, it was never removed. But, katana was always placed in the floor so that it remains in access.
Katana sword was often worn on the street. It was installed in such a way, and this process was called Kosirae. A lacquered sheath of saja was put on the blade while wearing it.
At times, the sword was not required for a frequent use. In such circumstances, katana was not carried, rather placed at home. It was typically installed in a silasia tree. It prevented it from corrosion because steel is quite vulnerable to corrosion.
Even today, such techniques are applied to katana swords. Sheath that protected the blade was never varnished or decorated. So, modern construction methods and forging methods quite follow the modern ones. Let’s plunge into the process of construction of katana!
Manufacturing of a Katana Sword
The construction of katana sword follows a few steps. This method is similar to that adopted by the manufacturers of swords during the medieval period.
The enthusiasts must know that construction of a sword can take up to a month.
The first stage of the manufacturing process includes addition of a few pieces of tamahagane varieties. These are filled with clay and then sprinkled with ashes.
This process is necessary because it helps in removing slag from the metal.
The second step includes forging the resulting block with a hammer. After flattening, it is folded. Then the folding and flattening procedures are repeated several times for doubling the number of layers.
This process leads to disturbance of carbon equally in workpiece for ensuring that the hardness of the blade in every section is the same.
Amid the procedure of forging, the tamahagane block is usually stretched to the required length.
The composition of the strips with different hardness then leads to the development of real structure as well as design of the blade.
After this process, the manufacturers apply a layer of liquid clay. This is crucial because it assists in preventing overheating as well as oxidation.
The hardening procedure involves observing the technological process as well. For doing so, a jamon is created between the hiraj and yakib of the katana sword. Remember that yakib is the harder part while hiraj is the softer part.
As the pattern takes its final form, the procedure of polishing is initiated. But, before this process, it is ensured that the sword is hardened.
Keep in mind that Jamon is a material at the joint of two steels. This is the point where the blade is forged.
While exploring the process of developing katana swords, one must appreciate the skills of the manufacturers. They leave no stone unturned while making these swords. The quality is immense!
When all these steps are taken, it is time to initiate quenching process. It includes heating the sword to a temperature based on the condition and type of metal.
After this forging process, the sword id left for cooling at a rapid pace. During this process, the crystal component of the lattice is passed into the martensite stage, and the cutting edge is further hardened.
You can understand why the process of constructing a sword takes too long. There is a long process of finalizing the blade and then polishing it.
After polishing is done, it is time to sharpen the blade. This is where stones of different granularity are used.
The master tends to pay high attention to getting an ideal flat surface of the blade and the right angle of faces during the process of mating surfaces.
After the sharpening process ends, the master works with small plates of stones. He determines the details and features of the sword and tells every necessary instruction regarding using the sword. These details are actually displayed on the sword.
At times, the manufacturers leave an engraving of the Buddhist theme as a decorative character on those parts of the sword that are comparatively softer.
After polishing the handle of the katana sword, it is then decorated. A few days are spent in this before the katana is ready to use. So, this is such a long procedure of constructing this sword.
The Modern Katana!
Today, katana is not necessarily a warrior’s sword because we don’t have to engage in combat. Firearms are now the weapons for fighting the battles.
However, katana is still the most popular weapon in the market. Enthusiasts love to maintain a collection of katana swords.
The modern katana is not different from a traditional one. There is a similar thick blade with a curve at the bottom. However, the lengths of the blades are slightly reduced.
The modern katana is now just a piece for collection, decor and cosplay.
Today, katana is constructed using steel as well as foam. Yes, foam is used for constructing the sword for safe use. Cosplayers normally use foam swords in order to ensure their safety during LARP events.
In modern days, katana sword is still the greatest sword. There is an extensive range available in the market even today of these types of swords.
Are you a fan of this gorgeous sword? Get one in your collection now!