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Thread: masamune

  1. #1
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    Default masamune

    Hey guys, I know this is gonna sound like a totally ignorant question, but what exactly is so good about masamune? I know he was a swordsmith that lived around 1100-1200 and that his blades were very good. What was so good about them? How much better were they compared to other blades? Were the entire family great swordsmiths or just him?
    Peter Ross

    Waiter: "Can I tell you about today's specials?"
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  2. #2
    Dan Harden Guest

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    Although many are going to jump in here to answer you-I thought I would say that no one has THE answer.
    Collectors will tell you Masamune blades have good value because collectors placed value on them. Historians will tell you that it is because they were tested and found to be good blades. OK, tested against what? The quality of Japanese blades has shown that in any given era they were anything from curved crap to excellent. Sorry, it's true. You never knew what you were going to get. Heck they even thought you could harden and temper in one step. Perhaps the real answer is that Masumune's blades were "better" than the many that were tested. There might well have been dozens of smiths turning out blades just as good or even better. But, they were not "discovered" by any acceptable testing format-hence reduced comparative value.

    Anyway, steel is steel, nothing is magic about Japanese swords-at least mechanically. They are pretty, and the polishing and furniture makes them prettier still, but any good modern smith ( Japanese or other cultures ) can outdo the old blades performance-wise with several modern steels and methods.
    Something worthy of note; One modern Japanese smith (and business owner- otherwise he would be a poor smith) bought a treasured Koto blade and cut it in half to prove a point. It was NOT san mai or any other plate style, nor was it kobuse folded. It was straight steel folded, just like we do now. His theory was that all of the complex plate style folding being done was an affectation of the shin shinto smiths and was completely unnecessary and added nothing to a blade.

    Steel is steel
    I couldnt agree more

    Off for the weekend
    Cheers
    Dan

  3. #3
    Ben Bartlett Guest

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    Another possibility (and this is utter speculation on my part), is that a particular warrior or group of warriors won several difficult battles using Masamune blades, and attributed their luck to the swords. I don't know if there's any historical evidence to back that conjecture up, but such things have been known to happen.

  4. #4
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    Default

    They certainly must have had something going for them, as there seem to be quite a few legends about Masamune's blades. The blades of Jinsoku (of Buzen) are worth almost twice as much as a Masamune, yet you don't see much about him.

    Possibly he just made excellent swords, and a legend arose which in turn spawned more. The Japanese were very superstitious about swords, so maybe someone split a poorly made kabuto with one in battle, or an oppressive daimyo was killed with one, or a particularly skillful swordsman used them..so they attributed this skill or virtue to the sword itself.

    I have no doubt they were outstanding blades, but those of his student, Muramasa, were probably nearly as good. But the Tokugawa had a bit of bad luck with those(through no fault of the sword), and so they were villified, being considered 'bad luck', and are worth less than a third of a Masamune.

    Guess it's the luck of the draw. No pun intended. If your swords happened to be used in valorous fashion you were set, but if some shogun cut his finger on one, you were finished.
    David F. Craik

  5. #5
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    Default Muramasa the mad swordsmith

    There is alot of history behind this guy. He was considered the mad swordsmith because he put his madness into each of his blades and the owners of his swords seemed to have a thirst for blood. Tokugawa Iyeyasu had a disliking towards his blades because he cut his finger on one. It is also said that he tried to commit seppuku with one of muromasa's blades, but it would not cut, so he went out and one the battle that he thought he had lost. All of muramasa's blades seemed to have a thirst for blood and cut very well. The tang was like a short demented shape of a crane's head. I wish I had a muromasa sword.
    Robert Kerndt

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