The Katsumushi is a 500 pc. limited edition collaboration between Paul Chen along with the Hanwei forge and Reliks Swords and Collectibles. This piece released in June of 2007, selling out shortly after leaving this limited edition no longer available. Traditionally known in Japan as katsumushi, or the "invincible insect," the dragonfly is a favourite symbol of strength and victory, admired for its elegance and lightness, yet it is also a symbol of Japan herself, as the shape of the islands are said to resemble this intriguing insect.
The Katsumushi katana kashira (cap on the tsuka/handle) brings together the katsumushi theme with an expertly crafted dragonfly based on antique Japanese designs. The porous texture creates a very rich landscape for the accented, almost lifelike dragonfly perched on the antiqued kashira. The quality of detail can be enjoyed from the antiqued texture to the smallest refinements, including the veins of the dragonfly wings, to the depth of the dragonfly’s tail.
The Katsumushi katana fuchi (collar between the tsuka and tsuba/ guard) carries out the katsumushi theme with an expertly crafted dragonfly that compliments the kashira. Much like the kashira, the texture creates a rich landscape for the accented dragonfly which brings luck to the samurai that wields this beautiful sword. The refined details are simple, subtle but powerful as this is truly a sword made for the Japanese warrior.
The menuki (ornament on the handle) of the dragonfly, traditionally known in Japan as katsumushi, or the "invincible insect," is a symbol of strength and victory. The menuki on the Katsumushi has been copper plated, matching the habaki, seppa and other highlights found on this beautiful katana. The use of copper was very traditional for Japanese katana and today is found almost exclusively on custom pieces.
This functional katana takes inspiration from the strength of the dragonfly with an antiqued solid iron tsuba with cut outs depicting the dragonfly alongside a set of bulrush. In Japan the dragonfly is a symbol of success, happiness, strength and courage. The image of the dragonfly can be seen adorning everything from textiles to furnishings for the Japanese noble. There is even a Japanese tale of an Emperor who was bitten by a horsefly, which in turn was eaten by a dragonfly. The Emperor then honoured the dragonfly by naming Japan the "Isle of the Dragonfly".
The habaki is the collar, which fits over the blade where the tang meets the blade to minimize scratching from the blade being removed from the saya. Throughout history, Japanese swords have utilized copper, a material that conforms to the Japanese blade. The Katsumushi boasts individualized antiqued copper habaki, perfectly fit to the unique geometry of each custom hand forged blade.
The Katsumushi Katana has a 11" tsuka(handle) which has been dressed in black ray skin(same) and expertly wrapped with premium green Japanese cotton. The "katate-maki" coil wrap or war wrap although rarely seen in production models is very traditional and seen throughout the Muromachi period as well as late Edo period. The Katsumushi Katana also features a hand forged 28.5" 1065 high carbon steel blade and is differentially tempered using traditional clay tempering methods to produce a HRC60 edge and HRC40 spine. This allows for superior edge holding and cutting ability while allowing the blade to absorb the shock of a blow. The temper line is prominent with a notare (wave) hamon with accenting toran (high wave) near the point of balance and the effective cutting area.
The Katsumushi is a fully functional sword. It features a hand forged blade which has been clay tempered (differentially tempered) by master blade smiths. The Katsumushi has a traditional tang also referred to as a full tang and has been double pegged for added safety. The Katsumushi can be broken down for cleaning and then easily assembled. This is not only a unique limited edition collectors piece, it is a formidable weapon that is suitable for tameshigiri and iaito.
The Katsumushi fittings also referred to as the furniture speak for themselves. The mixture of detail and texture make the Katsumushi stand out. This piece was designed with a true battle sword in mind and can easily be envisioned on the battlefield. The theme of the “invincible insect” can be seen throughout the subtle detailing with the dragonfly prominently displayed on the tsuba, fuchi and kashira. The deep green sageo and Japanese cotton ito with black same (ray skin) compliment the antiqued and copper fittings.
The saya of the Katsumushi Katana is constructed of birch wood with a black matte stone finish with highly polished horn kojiri(end cap) and koiguchi(scabbard mouth). The kurikata is also manufactured from black horn and adorned with a detailed copper shitodome and finished with a green Japanese cotton sageo.
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