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Our Paper Crane Wakizashi, with its attendant Katana (SH2294), is without doubt the greatest achievement in sword making artistry yet available from Hanwei. The blade is crafted from Hanwei’s own Tamahagane steel (see below) while the fittings reflect the atmosphere of the Japanese theater. The Daisho’s name stems from the origami (the art of paper folding) cranes that decorate the striking Tsuba and Fuchi/Kashira, all of which feature highly-prized “Nanako” or stippled backgrounds. The Menuki feature thespian masks, a symbol shared by the Japanese theater and its western counterpart. The Saya of the katana houses a Kozuka (small knife) while that of the Wakizashi carries a Kogai (hair pick) The Kozuka and Kogai are decorated with musical instruments of the theater. The Paper Crane theme is carried to the outstanding hand woven silk Sageo, the result of many hours of skilled work on a hand loom.
Tamahagane steel is made by building and firing a Tatara, the traditional Japanese sword-steel smelter. This charcoal-fired furnace produces a very pure steel from iron sand, and this steel “Kera” or bloom can be broken and separated into high- and low-carbon pieces, which respectively form the “skin” steel and “core” steel of the blade. The skin steel is forged and folded repeatedly, to remove slag inclusions and voids and is then wrapped around the core steel before the resulting billet is forged into a blade, traditionally referred to as Kobuse construction. . Careful heat treating, shaping and polishing reveals the tight “Hada” or layer pattern of the blade and the white particles of the “Hamon” or temper line. While this process results in the aesthetic qualities much admired by collectors it also produces a very functional blade, as the high carbon content of the skin steel makes a very hard edge possible while the softer core steel gives the blade its resilience and ability to absorb shock.
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