The Huawei Kirin Katana
I really enjoyed working on this one and it feels great in my hands. It’s a robust sword that’s extremely well balanced and has good blade presence. I tried to go for a classic overall theme with this one but couldn’t resist adding a couple of personal touches.
I chose the Kirin because I’ve always liked this creature and also because I’ve never used it for a katana before.
The Kirin –
One of the rarest, most awesome, and most powerful creatures ever known in East Asia is the unicorn-like kirin. It is a regal animal, holy and highly revered, and often considered a god in its own right. The kirin is a chimerical beast resembling a deer with scales like a dragon’s covering its body. It has a tail like an ox’s and a flowing mane. Its body and mane are covered in brilliant holy fire. Its face is the picture of utter serenity.
A gentle animal, the kirin never eats the flesh of other beings, and it takes great care never to tread on any living thing, even lowly insects. When it walks, it does so without trampling a single blade of grass. Its beauty is only surpassed by its rarity; kirin only appear during periods of world peace, during the reigns of noble and enlightened rulers, in lands owned by wise and benevolent people, or as heralds of a golden age. Kirin never harm good and pure souls, but they are swift and fierce to attack if threatened, breathing holy fire from their mouths.
Because kirin are beasts of purity and goodness, they have been used in carvings and paintings as symbols of these virtues since early times. They are also seen as symbols of justice and wisdom. Because of their holiness, images of kirin frequently adorn temples and shrines. They are omens of great luck and fortune, and the appearance of a kirin is often believed to be a sign of the arrival of a great leader or a wise man.
Kirin were originally introduced to Japan via Chinese myths and legend, where they are known as qilin. Over time, the Chinese and Japanese version diverged into slightly different creatures. In Japan, the kirin is considered to be the most powerful and sacred beast of all, surpassing the hō-ō and tatsu in power.
– Kirin information borrowed from Yokai.com
What I did:
- carved a new tsuka core from American yellow Poplar
- applied a full wrap of #2 samegawa from Namikawa, applied black Japanese cashew lacquer
- tsukamaki in hineri-maki style with black/red silk ito
- added new kirin menuki colored black with gold highlights
- added iron Higo style fuchi/kashira and tsuba with vine motif and natural black patina
- added brass habaki and decorated it with a scratch pattern
- added hand cut, custom fit brass seppa with coin edge and surface file marks
- saya is lacquered with ishime finish in black. I wanted to tie in the texture of the black samegawa and gold accent colors of the fittings but also wanted to do something that would tie in the Kirin without going full out hokey. I thought about how Kirin have been said to be God-like and were even able to fly through space so I thought I’d add some tiny accents in the form of gold meteorites speeding through outer space. They’re there but in a subtle enough way to not overpower the overall design. the koiguchi, kurikata and kojiri are original though I removed and reshaped the kurikata to a more aesthetically pleasing shape and lacquered them all black. The kurikata has a thinner coat of lacquer to show a couple of spots of the natural horn details I though were interesting.
- added a matching 100% silk sageo in a similar black/red color to finish tying in the saya to the tsuka.
- made a new susudake mekugi pin
Sugata – shinogi-zukuri, no hi
Tempering/Heat treating – differential hardening, clay tempred & water quenched
Hamon – Choji, saka choji or possibly juka choji, hitatsura (with tobiyaki and hamon on mune)
Polish – tameshigiri polish
Kissaki – chu, geometric
Nagasa – 28″ to mune machi
Mune – iori
Sori – tori, 18mm/.7″
Motohaba – 32mm
Sakihaba – 23.5mm
Motokasane – 7.5mm
Sakikasane – 5.1mm
Weight w/saya – 3.04 Lbs
Weight w/out saya – 2.56 Lbs
Pob – 5.5″ from tsuba
Tsuka Length – 11″
Nakago Length – 9 1/2″ from habaki
Tsuba – iron
Habaki – brass
Seppa – brass
Fuchi/Kashira – iron
Menuki – copper alloy