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Endo Period Katana Signed with Cutting Test Inscription


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Japanese Endo period sword (Katana) which is signed on one side of the tang and has a cutting test inscribed on the other. The blade is chisled with a dragon (Horimono). The sword fittings (Fuchi Kashira) show devils (Oni) made from shakudo, copper and gold. The Menuki are a bow and arrows in shakudo and gold. The Tsuba has a Phoenix inlayed in gold on shakudo.

Sword length: 38”

Tameshigiri (試し斬り, 試し切り, 試斬, 試切) is the Japanese art of target test cutting. The kanji literally mean "test cut"ためし ぎり tameshi giri). This practice was popularized in the Edo period for testing the quality of Japanese swords. It continues to the present day, but has evolved into a martial art which focuses on demonstrating the practitioner's skill with a sword

During the Edo period, only the most skilled swordsmen were chosen to test swords, so that the swordsman's skill was not questionable in determining how well the sword cut. The materials used to test swords varied greatly. Some substances were wara (rice straw), goza (the top layer of tatami mats), bamboo, and thin steel sheets. In addition, there were a wide variety of cuts used on cadavers and occasionally convicted criminals, from tabi-gata (ankle cut) to O-kesa (diagonal cut from shoulder to opposite hip). The names of the types of cuts on cadavers show exactly where on the body the cut was made. Older swords can still be found which have inscriptions on their nakago (tang) that say such things as; "5 bodies with Ryu Guruma (hip cut)". There is an apocryphal story of a condemned criminal who, after being told he was to be executed by a sword tester using a Kesa-giri cut, calmly joked that if he had known that was going to happen, he would have swallowed large stones to damage the blade.

 

 

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