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Musashi Glorious Dragon

The Glorious Dragon, a mythical creature that appears in dozens of ancient cultures around the world. Whether itís the large, winged, fire-breathing beast of European lore or the wingless water serpent of Asia, the Dragon has a majestic and commanding presence. Itís no wonder that we frequently see depictions of these creatures in the world of sword collecting, especially among Asian blades such as the Japanese Katana.

Japanís own history with the Dragon is very interesting and unique. In their native form, the Japanese versions of the serpents were Water Gods, associated quite frequently with the sea. The Japanese Emperors are often said to be descendants of Dragons, perhaps an allusion to Japanís relationship with China. This is not hard to imagine, since they are often used to represent the ancient Chinese Emperors.

Unfortunately, this powerful symbol finds itself being used for profit rather than tradition far too often. I frequently notice stainless steel display katana and sword sets adorned with dragons galore in malls all over the place. These rat-tail tang blades that arenít made for anything more than cheap décor sell more popularly than the honest to goodness blades made by traditional smiths and companies devoted to making blades used by martial artists or owned by true collectors worldwide.

This mass production of sacred symbols is nothing new since there are many aspects of world cultures being sold as consumer products with no actual concern for historical accuracy behind them. Well, I can think of several companies that break that cycle, and will continue to do so as long as there exists in some place a market of devoted enthusiasts. Whether for art appreciation, historical enthusiasm and passion, or the practicality of a functional martial arts weapon, collectors can turn to Musashi swords for a blade that is functional, aesthetically appealing, and economical. When Musashi puts a Dragon on one of their products, it is because they have earned that right by being passionate about making real, functional swords in a modern take on traditional Japanese sword-making techniques.

When observing the Glorious Dragon Katana Sword offered by Musashi, I immediately noticed the prominence of gold coloring on a lot of the detailing, evoking the imagery of an Imperial Palace of China or a Shinto temple honoring the kami (gods or spirits, ancient protectors of Japan). This wasnít simply a functional blade, which Musashi is renowned for making, it is a work of art. Well, a work of art that will still cut like a dream. The blade is hand forged with 1050 carbon steel, and is water tempered bringing the hardness to 55 HRC. To put it in laymanís terms, this is a vast improvement from the stainless steel paper wieght in the mall back home. The blade is beautiful and the hamon, or temper line, is genuine and prominent.

To the collector who is more inclined to have an artistic piece, the saya, or scabbard, steals the show. The creature depicted is unmistakably the water serpent of Asian myth, done in a Chinese style. For those whoíd like a quick lesson, the Chinese Dragons are typically shown with four claws on each foot. This is, of course, unless it appears as an Imperial seal or furnishing, in which case there will be five claws. The Japanese, almost without fail, depict the serpents as having three claws per foot. The choice of the Chinese version of the Dragon may be a reflection of the forge which makes Musashiís blades, located in China. It may also be a reference to the relationship between China and Japan, culminating in the beauty and unchallenged supremacy of Japanese style sword making meeting the ancient legacy of the Chinese take on the water serpent. Since the Japanese language and writing systems are highly influenced by classical China, it is not too much of a stretch to believe that this sword was made as it was intentionally.

The tsuba, or hand guard, on this model is a motif of a Dragon appearing in traditional Chinese fashion. The tsuba and other metal parts on the tsuka (hilt) of the sword are done in copper. Those who are familiar with metals may know that copper has a tendency to react to oxygen resulting in a discoloration called a patina. On a sword like this, this would not be detrimental. A patina effect naturally suggests an old or ancient aura to whatever it may appear on, and the same is true for swords. When observing a copper furnished katana that has had time to oxidize and patina, one might very well be reminded of the history behind that particular bladeís art or style. Nothing could be more fitting than to have such a feature on a sword featuring the regal water serpents of Japan and China. For those who do not want such an effect to take place, sealants are available at very cheap prices which will protect the copper.

Yamamoto Tsunetomo is attributed with the following quote from the text, Hagakure; ďIt is said that what is called the Spirit of an Age is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the world's coming to an end. In the same way, a single year does not have just spring or summer. A single day, too, is the same. For this reason, although one would like to change today's world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation.Ē There is no practical need for a katana as a weapon of warfare or self-defense. However, that does not mean that we cannot honor the spirit of nobility and honor of a warrior class whoís influence is now felt worldwide, not confined to Japanese borders anymore than the sun is confined to the horizon of any one country. If you choose to pay tribute to the Samurai and their legacy, choose a blade that has meaning, a blade you can be proud of. Leave the plastic clad stainless steel abominations unsold on the shelves of mall stores where they belong.

A sword should tell a story. Whether through the nicks in the blade resulting from use on backyard targets or tameshigiri mats, remembering when and why you chose a sword, remembering receiving the it as a special gift, or simply knowing the story behind a blade modelís name or the artwork adorning it, a sword should always tell a story. Without stories, there is no legacy. Without a legacy, we are nothing.

If you would like more information on this blade and others, please visit SamuraiSupply.com Sword Articles. You can also check out Musashi Swords and shop for good quality, economically priced pieces to add to your collection. If you have any questions or comments, please direct them to info@samuraisupply.com.


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