Yatagarasu Picture

Overall Length: 39"
Blade Length: 27"
Blade Width: 1 3/8" @ base; 13/16" @ profile taper (1" from tip)
Tsuka Length: 11"
Tsuba Diameter: 3"
Kashira Dimensions: 1 3/8"L x 1 3/8"W

I normally only upload redesigns of fantasy swords to DeviantArt, leaving the vast majority of my work in my design thread over on SBG. However, this sword is, technically speaking, my 300th design and I wanted to do something special for it; it was also vaguely a request, which is why I decided to upload it here.

I've long considered doing a katana, but I just don't really care for Japanese swords, so I never really did much more than that. Additionally, I've always thought that if I ever did do a katana, it would be either of a kissaki-moroha-zukuri or a kanmuri-otoshi-zukuri profile, as those are the two blade profiles I actually like on a katana. Well, since I wanted to do something special for this design, I decided to go ahead and do a katana, particularly as this will likely be the only time I'll ever do one; they're just too much of a hassle. With that in mind, I spent some time finding all the elements that would go into the sword, since I wanted it to contain those elements I like in a katana. As such, the blade is of a kissaki-moroha-zukuri profile, the koshirae are Handachi style (based on an antique set from the Edo period), and the tsuba is based on a combination of the Hanwei Paper Crane katana (the black iron/gold combo) and on Nanashi's katana from Sword of the Stranger (the cutouts), one of my favorite anime movies and a most excellent film in general.

The tsuka has a very slight curve, but is otherwise straight, lacking the more exaggerated curves found on some tsuka; despite the rather disparaging nickname of "axe-handle" given to many lower-mid end katana tsuka on account of its straight profile, I actually rather like the way it fills the hand (it's not that dissimilar to a bokuto, after all). The menuki are in the, apparently, more traditional palm side placement as opposed to the fingertip side placement you typically see on just about every modern production katana, because, as with everything else on this sword, that's what I prefer. It drives me nuts trying to swing a katana with the menuki under my fingertips. The blade is based on one originally forged by Gassan Sadakatsu in the Showa period (July 1941) emulating the famous Kogarasumaru, which is rather amusing to find out, as when I set out to design this sword, I named it Yatagarasu; Yatagarasu is a three-legged raven from Japanese mythology who appears as a guide before Emperor Jimmu, the first Emperor of Japan. As a result, Yatagarasu is typically viewed as a messenger or guide.

To further this theme, I chose a set of mitsudomoe menuki, which has a variety of meanings. The tomoe is also the shape of the magatama, from which many of the deities in Japanese mythology were born from when Amaterasu, the sun goddess, bit pieces from magatama and blew them into the wind. The Yasakani no Magatama is also one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan and used when enthroning an Emperor (much like the Crown Jewels in England). The mitsudomoe, in particular, was originally the symbol of the Shinto war god Hachiman, subsequently being adopted by the samurai; it was also on the flag of the Ryukyu Kingdom (present day Okinawa). The mitsudomoe also forms a variation of the triskelion, an ancient symbol that often consists of three legs, which goes back to the three-legged crow that is Yatagarasu.
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