The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section
Long strife between North and South Dynasty ended. Even though the government was corrupted at the later part of the Muromachi Period, at least until the “Onin-no-Ran”, (refer 21 Muromachi period history) Muromachi period was a rather peaceful time. Nanboku-Cho style longs word became useless and they were shortened. This is called Suriage. In general, Muromachi period was a declining time for sword making.
Tachi and Katana
Until the end of the Nanboku-Cho period, the sword was suspended from the waist, cutting side faces down. Swordsmiths inscribed their names facing out when it was worn. That means when you see the inscription, the cutting side comes right. This is called Tachi. Around Muromachi period, swords were worn inside the belt, the cutting side up, and the inscription of the name facing out when it is worn. That means when you see the inscription, the cutting side comes left. This is called Katana. Samurai usually wore one pair of swords together called Dai-Sho(大小), that means large and small. Longer one is Katana and the shorter one is Wakizashi. In general, Tachi is longer and Katana is shorter, Wakizashi is even shorter but longer than Tanto. The difference between Tachi and Katana comes from the way it was worn, not the length.
O-Suriage ( shortened 磨上げ)
When the shortened (suriage) sword was appraised as a valuable one, Hon’ami family (Connoisseur family generation to generation) judged the make of the sword and wrote sword smith’s name on the front side of the hilt and signed the connoisseur’s name on the back of the hilt. When the sword was shortened a lot, it is called O-Suriage.
Shu-Mei (朱明 )———————————————————-name written in Vermilion Kinpun-Mei (金粉名 )———————————————-name lacquered in gold powder Gin-Zougan (銀象嵌 )————————————————————-name inlaid in silver Kin-Zougan (金象嵌 )—————————————————————name inlaid in gold
Shape (Sugata 姿)———Usually approximately 2 feet 3 or 4 inches (71cm) long. The shape of the Muromachi period Katana is somewhat like Heian period Tachi style. But Muromachi Katana is not as grand, not as graceful as Heian period sword. They are Koshizori. Koshizori shape means the highest curvature comes lower than the center of the blade. Suitable length and shape for wearing inside the belt. The width and the thickness of sword is well balanced with the length. Small Kissaki.
Hirazukuri-Wakizashi———–Hirazukuri means a flat surface with no Shinogi and no Yokote line. Usually One foot and 1 or 2inches long. No curvature. Hirazukuri-Wakizashi appeared During Muromashi time.
Hamon (tempered line 刃文) ———————- Nioi base. Tempered are is well balance to the width of the blade. Koshi-hiraita-midare mixed with Choji midare.
Boshi ————– Midare-komi, short turn back. Midare is irregular wave like hamon pattern. Look at the illustration above.
Jitetsu (地鉄 area between tempered line and Shinogi)————Soft look, large grain pattern, Jiutsuri (faint smoke or cloud-like effect) shows.
Horimono (carvings 彫物) ———- Bo hi (single groove), Soe hi (narrow groove), Futasuji hi (double narrow groove), Sanscrit, Tokko- tsuki –ken, Tsume-tuki-Ken, Names of God, Dragon. Carvings became elaborate.
Sword Smiths during Muromachi Period
Bizen ———-Osafune Morimitsu (長船盛光) , Yasumitsu (康光), Moromitsu (師光)Yamashiro Den———————————————–Yamashiro Nobukuni (山城信国)