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Muramasa


Sengo Muramasa was a famous Japanese swordsmith who worked in the 16th century during the Muromachi period. He founded the Muramasa school and his blades are very sharp, although they were considered too valuable to perform cutting tests so there is no way to compare them to more modern swords like that of Kotetsu. His earliest dated work was made in 1501.

Muramasa is most often compared with Masamune and there are many variations of a fictional encounter between the two. However, Masamune is known to have worked during the Kamakura period (1288 - 1328), so it is impossible for them to have actually met. However, the legend has allegorical value because the two swordsmiths are considered the masters of their respective eras and the time period in which they lived provides a context for the nature of their work. In the legend, Masamune's work is considered that of a serene warrior while Muramasa's work is considered bloodthirsty or to contain an evil spirit.

The reason for this stigma on Muramasa's blades is that they were banned by the Tokugawa Shogunate in the early 17th century. Tokugawa Ieyasu owned a Muramasa, but had lost many friends to Muramasa's blades, and he acidentally cut himself with his own sword at one point. After samurai were forbidden to wear Muramasa's blades, many simply removed his signature, while others changed the signature from Muramasa to Masamune. At the same time, an increase in demand sprung up among opponents of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and many Muramasa forgeries arose. This helped to create the stigma that Muramasa's swords are bloodthirsty or contain an evil spirit, and there is a legend that once a Muramasa is unsheathed it must draw blood before it can be placed back in the scabbard just like Tyrfing from Norse mythology.

Juuchi Yosamu or "10,000 Cold Nights" is the sword made by Muramasa in his fictional encounter with Masamune.

CE 16th Century, History, Japan, Sword, Weapon


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