John Lee Shirasaya O-Tanto
Hand-forged samurai sword from the JOHN LEE series
This Tanto is particularly long. With an overall length of 57 cm, it significantly exceeds the usual size.
Masterpieces of Asian forging
– The blades of the swords are hand-forged out of high carbon steel and traditionally hardened.
– The sharpened blades are grooved with a Bo-Hi (fuller) for weight reduction.
– The handle-ends are particularly long and fastened to the hilt with two bamboo pegs (Mekugi). The swords can thus be fully dismantled.
– The blade collars (Habaki) are made of metal.
– The hilts and sheaths (Saya) are made of wood.
Shirasaya was a specific sword mounting designed to ensure a better preservation of the blade at night or in case of prolonged disuse. The advantage of untreated magnolia wood laid in its low acidity and the absence of further substances likely to damage the blade. It was not post-treated, absorbed the humidity of the sword and channelled it away. The Tanto kept dry and rust-free.
Shirasaya often bore a signature (’Sayagaki’) with specifics on the origin of the blade, such as place and time of forging as well as name of swordsmith and assessor.
As the carrying of edged weapons was prohibited by the Emperor by the end of the 19th century, the ornaments and fittings all around the hilt and tsuba were trimmed back, which led to the birth of the Shirasaya design as we know it today. The resemblance of this Tanto with a wooden sword or stick would enable its holder to remain unnoticed and to keep carrying it along with him.
– Hilt length: approx. 21 cm
– Blade length: approx. 34 cm
– Overall length (without sheath): approx. 55 cm
– Weight (without sheath): approx. 480 g