- Museum number
Katana (long sword blade) 1958,0730.84.a. Engraving of Acala. Made of steel. Signed and inscribed.
Shirasaya 1958,0730.84.b. Mounting for katana. Made of wood. Contains blade; stored inside purple fabric bag.
- Production date
Length: 82 centimetres (cutting edge)
Length: 64.80 centimetres (without tang)
Curvature: 1.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Up to the Edo period ‘samurai’ religious beliefs were illustrated on sword blades by carved Chinese and Sanskrit invocations, Buddhist implements and deities. This blade shows Acala; the impassivity behind his ferocious aspect was the spiritual attitude to which swordsmen aspired. On the reverse is the invocation ‘Namu Amida Butsu’ (Homage to Amitābha). Buddhist, especially Zen, concepts are still realised by means of ritual sword exercises.
This blade is 'shinogi zukuri' with 'saki zori', and has a 'mitsumune'. On either side there is a 'bohi' with a 'soehi'. On the 'omote' there is an 'ukibori' carving of Fudo Myo-o under a waterfall set within a wide 'bohi'. On the 'ura' there is an inscribed invocation 'Namu Amida Butsu' (In the name of Amitabha Buddha) on the flat of the blade. The unmodified tang has one hole and the file marks are 'katte sagari'. The tang tip is a shallow form of 'iriyamagata'. It is notable that although the engraving of the religious invocation on the 'ura' of the blade has evidently been worn down through polishing in the past, the carving of Fudo Myo-o on the 'omote' remains in its original unworn state.
The grain is a closely packed 'koitame' with 'jinie' and very occasional patches of 'tobiyaki'. The 'hamon' is a broad, somewhat languid 'suguha' in small 'nie' crystals and with a hint of 'hotsure'. The 'yakidashi' rises up from below the 'machi', rather like 'mizukage', to form into 'utsuri'. The 'boshi' is 'komaru' with some 'haki'.
The group of Yamato School smiths who originated in the city of Nara, probably in the earliest days of sword-making during the Nara period (AD 710-94), later spread through the auspices of the Kasuga Shrine of Nara to other parts of Japan. They were influential in the refinement of technology, which led to the Mino tradition. The name 'Masazane' occurs on work from both Yamato (centred on Nara) and Mino during the early to middle sixteenth century, and the first generation is said to have been associated with the smith Muramasa (no. 12). The smith of this blade, Kanabo Masazane, worked in Nara.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number