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Muramasa

MURAMASA

 

千子 村正


 

Sengo Muramasa was a famous swordsmith who founded the Muramasa school.  He lived during the Muromachi Period in feudal Japan, in what was Ise Province, in a town called Kuwana.

 

Muramasa was by all accounts an incredible swordsmith, legendary in his own time.  His swords were worn by generals and daimyo even in the early 1500's.  He was said to have amazing talent, but a troubled mind.  Perhaps he had set impossible standards for himself, or had mental health issues, or perhaps his soul was haunted.... we may never know for sure.  What we do know is that his swords were said to have a life of their own.

 

One tale said of Muramasa, is that he had made a "deal with the devil."  One of the pervasive myths in many cultures is the idea of one "selling their soul"  in order to possess or achieve something otherwise unobtainable.  This idea is more understandable when we consider the spiritual nature of the ritual of Japanese swordmaking.  When a swordsmith conducts the most important part of swordmaking, Yakire, he often wears ceremonial robes, works in the dark, and performs Shinto ritual purification.  Muramasa was said to whisper a prayer to the gods that his blades be the greatest destroyers.  These swords would have a taste for blood, instilled by a spirit, even sometimes move on their own accord.