The Face, obverse/reverse, of Swords
Japanese blades have obverse and reverse like coin. It depends with the
face of the sword mount. The obverse of sword mount is a side that face
to outside when you put it on your waist. In museums, most of swords are
displayed to show the obverse side.
The face of blades are the same to the sword mounts, but the confusion is a tachi blade in katana mount, or katana blade in tachi mount. To tell blades, we think as which it is made in original.
The obverse side of mounts
It is hanged with cord cutting edge downward.
It is put into the waist sash cutting edge upward.
Mounts for tanto blades
Usually, there is a signature of the smith on the obverse side of the tang. If there are engravings in the blade, it on the obverse is main theme, on the reverse is secondary.
In the case of shortened tachi blades, if it still has a signature on the tang, it is taken as tachi blade (suriage). If it is much shortened as its signature cut off, it is taken as katana blade (O-suriage).
Katana (O-suriage tachi blade)
This was tachi blade in its original. Then it was so shortened as the original tang doesn't exist. So it is taken as katana blade.
In a matter of fact, sometimes it appears an original unsigned blade that is difficult to tell tachi or katana.
The face is the same to tachi blade.
When a naginata blade is shortened as O-suriage, it is taken as katana or wakizashi.
Wakizashi (O-suriage naginata blade)
In the case of hira-sankaku-zukuri style, the ridge line side is obverse, and the flat side is reverse.
In the case of kanmuri-otoshi-zukuri (kikuchi-yari style), the face is the same to naginata.
The side which has signature is obverse. In the case of originally no signature, it is difficult to tell obverse/reverse.
It is bonded to handle (kozuka), and put into the kozuka slot on the reverse of scabbard, cutting edge upward.
The obverse of kogatana blade has a signature of smith or some inscription, and the surface is not polished to keep them. The reverse is flat and polished.
Home > Information > Face of sword