Katana – Japanese sword in facts & fiction

By on March 4, 2017

March 31 opens the exhibition Katanas – Japanese sword in facts & fiction in the Royal Armoury. An exhibition about a mythical piece of hard steel.

The Japanese sword Katana is in its present form around 1,000 years old, and the interest for it has hardly abated. Katanans importance has varied throughout history. From being the warrior identity marker of the Japanese samurai culture has the sword become Hollywood hero’s favorite weapon. The exhibition features a number of Japanese sword from the Royal Armoury weapons collection. Here you get familiar with what a Japanese sword really is and meets fictional characters who will not hesitate to draw their katana.

Katanas has a unique position when it comes to sword. Without exaggeration, it is one of the most iconic and mythical types of swords. The katana are always depicted as little better than any other weapon, says Jonas Lindwall, curator at the Royal Armoury. Much of that probably hangs together with a fascination for the Japanese: the pursuit of perfection, an element of spirituality and connections to an ancient warrior culture. You recognize it directly on the form. It is both beautiful and dangerous.

The samurai soul & the sword’s mystery

In Japanese tradition, the sword could have an almost religious significance and was part of the imperial regalia and represented the divine presence. Although several community groups could carry swords maybe most people associate the Japanese sword of the samurai. The sword was the object that clearly showed who was the samurai – a warrior and a part of society’s elite. The Japanese sword was seen as an extension of the samurai and was described as a samurai soul. Only these samurai got to wear two swords in Edo period Japan (1603-1867) and at least a sword was worn always, even to bed.

Katanas – from samurai to Beatrix Kiddo

The ceremonial and traditional manufacturing has contributed to the fascination of Japanese swords and the perception that they are almost supernatural in its function, which has given them a special role in today’s popular culture. Constantly comparisons between Japanese and other sword and it is considered to be cooler than other weapons. The quality of the blade and the mystique of the sword and its owner is often emphasized in the film, comics, literature, and computer games (such as Kill Bill, Overvwatch, Deadpool, Groo, Onepiece). Where they are prepared as sharper, tougher and more durable.

– Our own connection to katanas here at the Royal Armouryis the armory, says Jonas Lindwall. Is there any better place to tell a rather multifaceted story based on something as simple as a piece of steel? The Japanese swords that is showing in the exhibition have in various ways come into the Swedish kings weapons collections.

The exhibition runs March 31 to January 7 2018

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