The Japanese sword with a curved, slender, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard and long grip to accommodate two hands is called katana. It was used from 15th century by the samurais. They wore katana thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the sharpened edge facing up. The pairing of katana with a smaller sword „wakizashi“ is called the „daisho“. It represented the social power and a personal honour of samurai. One of the first-class maker of katana is Citadel. Go with us and see how a katana is made and find new knowledges about Japanese swords.
He needed knives to the restaurant, he started make them himself
Dominique Eluere was born in 1951 in France. At first he moved to Vietnam and with friend he had a restaurant there. He wanted quality French knives for this restaurant. And so when he arrived to Phnom Penh in Cambodia, he came with crazy idea and established manufactory for making traditional Japanese swords in 1997. Dominique started to work with Cambodian blacksmith and started to make swords by antique ones. Japanese methods of making katana are closely guarded secrets among sword makers, so it took Citadel around three years to master the complicated and time-consuming process. They broke many blades than they hand made the right Japanese sword.
Visit the Citadel manufactory
Everybody was amazed when entered to the hand manufactory of katana in Phnom Penh. There are dozens of workbenches in the middle of sparks and flames and about 60 craftsmen are busy producing weapons from a bygone age.
High carbon steel from Europe is heated in coal fire and beaten and forged by hand hammering into the basic shape. This process can last weeks. Then the blades are covered with the base of clay and heated for a critical temperature for the differential hardening quench. The quenching process is moment of truth in making a samurai sword for any smith. This process puts the blade under tremendous stress. When crack or further flaw in the blade is produced, the blade can be thrown to the scarp bin. And the smith can start from the beginning. If the quench is successful, the blade is then tempered to its final hardness. Each katana is unique because the smith don´t use the casts. They make every blade by hand.
Quenching and tempering is complete, so the blade is polished by hand using a mix of natural and synthetic stones and powders in the traditional manner. The polishing start with synthetic stone “Arato”, continue with natural stone “chu nagura”, through another synthetic stone “ Koma-nagura”, through another natural stone “ uchigomori”, for the final stone “hazuya” and the final powder or paste “nugui”.
The next parts of katana like habaki, tsuba, fuchi and kashira are handmade too. Citadel forges the habaki to each individual blade from solid copper for an exceptional fit. It is polished and pattern is engraved. Tsuba, fuchi and kashira are cut and engraved by hand of pure iron. They are resistant to rust but an occasional cleaning and light oil coating is recommended.
Tsuka and saya bring all together. The wood core of tsuka or handle is carved to the fit to the blade. After it, the handle is wrapped completely in a single high quality ray skin or Japanese silk. The wrapping is an art itself and need true skills. The characteristic diamond pattern is holding by small pieces of proper paper in triangle shape.
And the last part is saya or scabbard of katana. Each scabbard is individually carved to match the blade. Hand carving and shaping from buffalo horn takes 8 hours.
Why do you buy katana from Citadel?
Each katana is an art and is regarded by many as the only serious alternative to Japanese-made swords. Japanese spirit is respecting with humility and the Japanese acknowledge existence of Citadel workshop, which is an honour for them. Citadel katana compete in quality with Japanese sword, but they are sold at a fraction of their cost, which is their big advantage.
Workshop Citadel produces unique and collectible samurai swords which are hand made by using traditional methods and original materials. They produce small amount of katana but they have high quality. The order takes few months but it is worth to wait.
Each sword is one and only and make by hand of masters. The Citadel have purpose to make katana not only effective but beautiful and harmonious as well.