Discipolul invatase aproape tot. Ii lipsea un singur secret, pe care maestrul il pastra cu strasnicie: temperatura apei din butoiul in care se caleau lamele. Pindind o clipa de neatentie a maestrului, discipolul si-a bagat mina in butoi. In aceeasi secunda, sabia inrosita din forja a fulgerat o data cu ochiul fierarului si… hirst! Mina i-a ramas in butoi, dar tinarul a fugit cu o taina de nepretuit.
Exista in România un colectionar de arme albe fascinat de sabii japoneze, care de 20 de ani face pe „discipolul”, colectionind astfel de legende si mici secrete. Walter Riess a incercat de mai multe ori sa faureasca o lama dupa vechiul mestesug al fabricarii sabiilor de samurai. Nu i-a reusit nici una pe deplin, dar persevereaza. Alaturi, comentariile sale privind partile componente ale unei katana.
Fukura, partea principala de atac a taisului, era cel mai des folosita. Katana samuraiului nu izbeste, nu impunge, ci taie fulgerator cu acesti 3 cm.
Ha, taisul ce face faima sabiilor japoneze, e aproape casant. Razboinicii preluau loviturile adversarului cu muchia sabiei.
Mune, muchia sabiei, era curbata ca spatele luptatorului. Curbura se obtine la baterea taisului. Muchia nu e plata, ci ca un tais turtit.
Hamon, linia de calire, apare in urma unui proces de incalzire si racire diferentiata, folosind lut pe lama.
Horimono, ornamentele de pe lama, sint obtinute prin gravare sau intarsii cu alte metale.
Lama are de 3 ori lungimea minerului (cam 75 cm) si e compusa din 2 feluri de otel: corpul, dintr-un material mai ductil, shingane, e imbracat in kawagane – mai dur si casant. Prin batere repetata si pliere la cald se obtine ordonarea structurii interne a otelului. Exista lame cu pina la 65.000 de straturi.
Tsuba, garda – din fier sau arama –, impodobita cu metale pretioase, nu-si prezinta fata ornata catre lama, ci catre miner.
Fuchi, inelul minerului, se lucreaza aparte si se uneste prin batere. Ornamentele nu le face fierarul, ci bijutierul.
Mekugi, singurul nit de prindere (adesea din bambus) al sabiei, tine toate partile componente; asupra lui, in lupta, nu se exercita nici o forta.
Ito, siretul de matase, lung de 3 m, fixeaza pe miner pielea cruda de rechin si tine inelul de capat, formind o priza excelenta: degetele intra intre noduri, indiferent de pozitia palmei.
Tsuka, minerul, e de 3 ori palma samuraiului, masurind cam 25 cm.
* Articol aparut in numarul de decembrie 2003 al NG. Versiunea in limba engleza, mai jos.
The parts of a katana
The master would buy a piece of Japonese steel, the size and shape of a bar of soap. Under his hammer, the iron heated into the forge would become a one meter long flat sheet. It would be heated in fire again, then folded in two and forged again into a similar shape – the process would be repeated many times, until the blade consisted of thousands of layers. Through repeated welding, the swordsmith would end by controllig the arrangement of the grain of steel, giving the blade its unusual qualities.
The disciple knew that already. Actualy, he had learned almost everything. He only needs to know a single secret, the one that the master fiercely guarded: the temperature of the water from the barrel where the blades were hardened. Seizing a moment of unawareness of the Master, he puts his hand into the barrel. That very second, the redden sword flashed out of the forge, the smith’s eye with it, and… slash! His hand was left into the barrel but the young man ran away taking with him an invaluable secret.
There is in Romania a collector of side arms, a passionate of Japanese swords, who, after 20 years, still plays the apprentice collecting such legends and little secrets. Walter Riess tried many times to make a blade following the manufacturing technique of the ancient samurai swords. None of these attempts fully succeed, but finally he knows how to do it. Below are his comments on the parts of a katana.
12. Fukura, the main part of the edge, is the most frequently used. A samurai’s katana doesn’t strike, nor it jabs, but rather cuts in a flash using only these 3 centimeters of its length.
10. Ha, the famous edge of the Japanese swords, is almost friable. The warriors ward off their enemies strikes using the sword’s back.
8. Mune, is the back of the sword and its curvature matches the one of the warrior’s back. This curvature is made up by beating the edge which is not flat, but rather looks like a flattened edge.
9. Hamon, the line of hardening appears following a process of differentiate heating and cooling using some kind of clay deposited on the blade.
6. Horimono, the blades’ ornaments are made up by engraving or intarsia with other metals.
7. The blade is three time longer than the hilt (some 75 centimeters) and consists of two types of steel: the kernel, made from a more ductile material, shingane, is covered by kawagane – more hard and brittle. The internal structure of the steel is rearranged by repeated warm-hammering and folding. Some blades have up to 65,000 layers.
5. Tsuba, the guard, made up by iron or copper, is adorned with precious metals; the ornaments are only present on the side that faces the hilt.
4. Fuchi, the ring of the hilt is separately manufactured and forcefully inserted onto the tang. Its ornaments are not made by the smithy but by a jeweler.
3. Mekugi, the only rivet used (often made of bamboo wood) keeps together all these parts; there is no pressure on it during a battle.
2. Ito, the 3 meters-long cord, keeps in place on the hilt the raw shark-skin and fastens the ring at the end ensuring an excellent grip; no matter of one palm’s position, the finger always slide between the knots.
1. Tsuka, the hilt is about three times bigger than a samurai’s palm; it measures about 25 centimeters.
13. Kissaki is the blade’s tip. From kashira (the end of the hilt) to the tip, a katana measures about 1 m.
11. Shinoghi is one of the blade’s 10 edges; it separates two of the 8 faces of the blade
TEXT: Catalin Gruia
ART: Walter Riess