The same translates to “shark” or samegawa as “shark skin”. This is an important component of the katana located on the handle or tsuka. The wooden handle is carved flat on either side so a panel of samagawa can be placed under the handle wrap. The texture of the shark skin or commonly ray skin provides a textured surface to prevent the wrapping from slipping or becoming loose. Today we have several options from a traditional ray skin to synthetic replications of the material to achieve the same task (no pun intended). It is possible to have a tsuka or handle completely wrapped in samegawa without the tsuka-ito wrapping because it provides a very good grip on its own. There are examples of this on katana but it was more common on the shorter tanto blade. Samagawa was also known to be used on the saya or sheath providing extra grip or simply as a decorative element.
These are some photo's of several different Samegawa found on the Japanese katana that we offer.
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