The Tsuka is the katana's handle. The tsuka has been constructed many different ways but the traditional tsuka will be made from wood and custom fit to the blades tang and held by 1-2 mekugi pins. The wood handle is either wrapped in ray skin or channeled for rayskin inserts. The ray skin is referred to as “samegawa” translating to shark's skin however ray skin is what is typically used. This is done to prevent slippage of the tsuka-ito (handle wrapping). The tsuka-ito can be woven from very inexpensive fabrics or twine to the most luxurious Japanese cottons and silks. Most commonly wrapped in a hineri-maki (twists and turns) pattern the tsuka-ito may also be wrapped in a katate-maki special purpose pattern favored by samurai known as a “battle wrap”. An ornamental menuki would be woven in during the wrapping stage in the desired positions for the particular katana's purpose.
These are some photo's of several different Tsuka found on the Japanese katana that we offer.
The Tsuka photo's come from katana available in our functional Japanese swords's section.
Now you know what the Tsuka is, check out the rest of the parts that make up the legendary samurai sword.
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