A Japanese sword with a single blade and a curved blade is commonly referred to as a katana. In modern Japanese, the term “katana” refers to any sword. However, in ancient times, this was the name of a tool that was worn in a scabbard, with the blade tucked into the belt up – in contrast to the longer sword – the Tachi sword, which was attached to the belt with the blade down.
In Japanese ‘Tachi’ (太刀) means ‘Long Sword.’ It was the largest sword in Samurai’s arsenal, far bigger than Katana.
Swords in Japan were made only by order of the samurai, their production was never put on stream. Before starting forging, the blacksmith had to perform a ritual washing of the body, put on white clothes and hide his hair under a special cap. The prayer box occupied a special place in the workshop.
Katana was made from at least two types of steel: hard high-carbon steel, which held sharpening better, but was quite fragile, and viscous low-carbon steel, which dulled faster, but held the blow better. After forging, Tachi sword was tempered and polished. The creation of weapons could take several months. Often, after finishing work on the blade, the master put his signature on it. Tachi swords were passed down from generation to generation.
Katanas hand forged in Japan can cost anywhere from $12,000 to $25,000. Antique samurai Tachi swords with history are very hard to find at auctions.
This Tachi sword belonged to one of the most famous warriors and daimyo (feudal lords) in the history of Japan – the great Fukushima Masanori (1561-1624). He is known as one of the Seven Spears of Shizugatake for his actions at the Battle of Shizugatake, where he was honored with First Blood.
This Tachi sword is from 16th century Japan, dating from the end of the Koto period.
In Japan, almost a thousand of Tachi swords have been declared especially valuable cultural artifacts, and 125 of them are considered national treasures. According to Japanese law, they are forbidden to be taken out of the country, and if such a sword appears on sale, the Japanese government can buy it. The last time auction at which historical katanas were exhibited was held in 1992.
The owner of the collection of the most expensive samurai swords was the physician Walter Compton. It included 1,100 copies. Lots went under the hammer for 8 million dollars in one single day. The most expensive samurai sword in the Compton collection was the Kamakura period sword, created in the 13th century. The weapon was sold for $418,000 to an unknown European buyer.
Today there is a clear tendency to appreciate ancient samurai swords for their unsurpassed craftsmanship, their unique history, their cultural power, and even aesthetically to appreciate them as fine art. Without a doubt, all ancient samurai swords of great historical significance should be classified and treated as world treasures.
This Tachi sword is currently in the Tamoykin Art Foundation and is considered one of their most valuable assets. It has been valued at over $105 million and has been featured in the prestigious Forbes 400 Special Edition in the US, EU, and Asia, as well as Forbes Korea.