The Japanese Sword Forum

Damascus Blades?
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Author:  Conrad67 [ Fri May 26, 2017 9:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Damascus Blades?

Hello, I am new to the forum and trying to learn so that I don't get ripped-off when I finally buy a sword.

Recently, I saw a sword for sale that claimed to be an old damascus signed blade. Can this be? Did Japanese sword makers use damascus and if they did what time period would it be?

Also, what is the difference between a sword with 1 vs 2 holes in the tang?


damascus 1.jpg
damascus 1.jpg [ 78.22 KiB | Viewed 7713 times ]

Author:  Andi B. [ Tue May 30, 2017 9:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Damascus Blades?

Hi, a quick reply (btw this is a not so active forum - unfortunately):
The blade in the picture is definitely not an old authentic Japanese sword.
It's a modern made Chinese fake! Don't buy such swords!

What you see are the layers of different kind of steel (= "damascus") but not the border lines between the layers of (mostly) same kind of steel (= "hada"), which is common for Japanese swords.
(In fact some Japanese smiths used different steels and created a kind of damascus pattern but usually they used one sort of steel and folded it which makes a very fine and subtile pattern.)
Google for Mokume-, Masame-, Itame- and Ayasugi hada and you will see the difference...
Here you can see, how fine the pattern can/should be: e.g.

And regarding the holes:
Usually only one hole is required to lock the handle.
If an authentic blade has more holes, the blade was probably cut off at the tang (to reduce blade lenght) and a new hole was drilled to mount a new handle.

But on fakes and other replicas sometimes two holes were drilled to lock the handle at two places...
Research for "Nihonto" and try to see good pictures of real Japanese swords and soon you will be able to identify such fakes like the above.

My advice:
Don't buy any blade if you are not 100% sure if it's real...better buy e.g. books like "Art of the Japanese Sword: the Craft of Swordmaking and Its Appreciation" by Yoshindo Yoshihara to get a feeling for the topic.

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