2 parallel lines to the hamon--what are we looking at here?

by Caleb



QUESTION: If my intentions succeed, the included picture should show a hamon, the habuchi of which widens from a thin line from the left, to a thicker width towards the left. In the middle, however, the picture should also show two short lines parallel to the hamon, with a width much thinner than the main hamon, but with the same, light color as the hamon, showing clearly against the darker background of the Ha...

This is not a scratch. I scrubbed it diligently with tsukono many times after it has been polished scratch-free (almost) with all the stones up to hadori. A significant amount of material has been removed to reveal this; this is not something just on the surface...

What do you think? Can it be some kind of activity? Or is it just some sort of a mistake. This is a Cheness Kaze, by the way...it'd be quite interesting if a $300 sword can actually pack some harataki...

It'd be more worthwhile than Hanwei's acid-etched yakiba, to say the least


ANSWER: Looks like Harataki to me..! Definitely a pleasant surprise on a sub US$300, nice work on uncovering that Caleb.


- Paul

Comments for 2 parallel lines to the hamon--what are we looking at here?

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by: Brogdon Combs

Ok, I'm probably just being a sword-idiot, but what in the world is a harataki? and why is it good? thanks guys-SlayerofDarkness (Brogdon Combs)

Harataki are accidents.
by: Caleb

It's like how you can think of Oil Paintings as the result of the sum of controled brush strokes, while Watercolors happen by accident... Harataki is what you get when the unexpected happen......

I'm sure you understand the concept of hardening a sword to have a soft back and hard edge. (For the sake of simplicity, soft=dark, hard=white, visually speaking). In a perfectly controlled situation, you're supposed to have the back harden at, say, EXACTLY 40 Rockwells (a unit of hardness), and the edge at EXACTLY 60 Rockwells, and in between them, a Hamon. The Hamon's thickness and brightness is dependant on the temperature of the sword as it quenches, the carbon content, the difference of the (projected) Rockwells between back and edge, etc. Assuming a *perfectly controlled* situation, the temperature, carbon content, Rockwells etc of the entire blade would be perfectly consistent, thus resulting in a perfectly uniform, accident-free hamon...

Reality is rarely perfectly controled. In a nutshell, harataki is when that hamon (or generally speaking, the entire hardening process) does NOT form a uniform-like appearance. In the case of my photograph, what happened was that the boundary between hard-edge and soft-back failed to be contained completely, resulting in additiona, ~secondary~ hamon-like materials to form. Notice how they did not form randomly just anywhere, but close to the hamon, where these accidents are more likely to happen.

This is just a VERY simplified, and perhaps inaccurate description. But generally speaking, in an antique blade anyway, the more accidents, the better. Not only are they valued and priced higher, they also show the skill of the smiths, as their tradition had always been to actually control these accidents on a consistent basis to prove their insane mastery of their craft. In the case of the Kaze, the harataki serves as an additional PROOF that it was indeed tempered by hand. Machines do well to imitate a perfectly uniform Hamon; but if an accident is present, it may make one think it's not done by a machine. One may inspect such accidents carefully (and of the sword permits, conclude that it is real), and find an additional feature that attests to the hamon being, indeed, quenched by hand to manually create the boundary line between hard and soft--like how real Japanese swords are supposed to be made

Check this out: it's not supposed to happen, but it can, and looks very intriguing. (The accident does not happen at the hamon, but is actually a "shadow" of the hamon)


Wow, that's cool
by: Brogdon Combs

Thanks, Caleb. I knew some of that (such as rockwell hardness, what a hamon is, the simplest of stuff) but the rest was very interesting. That's totally cool, and, that harataki might actually make the Kaze pretty valuable to the right collecter...(I mean, c'mon. There are crazy people out there, who knows? You could make enough to buy another Kaze and some other swords too!) Good idea, or not, that is a cool feature of the blade.

Caleb Mok is no longer in Canada
by: Caleb Mok

Thank you for your inquiries. Unfortunatey I am no longer in Canada. Best wishes to your restoration projects. Sincerely, Caleb

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