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Much like his unique reputation, Muramasa is known for some fairly unique features in his work. The first particular characteristic of his is the frequent use of a mirror image hamon. Turning the blade over, the viewer is confronted with a nearly perfect copy of the hamon from the opposite side. In this, Muramasa was particularly skilled because a smith differs from a painter with a brush, in that the smith has to guide the hamon in the way that a tugboat would guide a freighter. The hamon is responding to other forces other than the explicit instructions of the smith, whereas a painter has full control of his tool which is making the image on a canvas.
The other easily identifiable feature one will see on Muramasa blades is the fish-belly (tanagobara) shape of the nakago. In my opinion, only the swords of Hankei have a nakago which are so individually styled that they are instantly recognizable as works by the particular creator's hand.
The hamon of Muramasa is usually midareba with very shallow valleys (almost touching the ha) between a cluster of gunome shapes. He is working in Ise province in the early 1500s, and it is thought that his kitae and hamon take on similar features to Nosada and Kanemoto of Mino province. Given the proximity and similarities in style, it is thought he had some interchange of techniques with one or both of the great smiths. Muramasa's hamon also shows the influence of the Soshu den, and his overall style is thought to be a mix of Soshu and Mino.
Jigane: Itame hada, Mokume mixed Nagare part by part. Jinie. High shinogi. Dark blue hada.
Hamon: Uniform hamon on both sides, undulating shallow notare midare. Grouped gunome mounds separated by wide lazy valleys which drop low to ha. Hakoba mixed.
Boshi: Chu Kissaki, komaru sometimes Jizo.
Credit: Darcy Brockbank