Samurai sword, possibly 12th century

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Bild
© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Bild
© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Bild
© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Bild
© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
Collection
Metalworking
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

A mythically ancient weapon? A sword for a Japanese Samurai, crafted in Sho-shin Province, potentially some 800 years old? Its maker has not yet been identified, and its dating has not been clarified with any certainty either.

The object is from the significant knife, blade and cutlery collection of Anton Petermandl (1820-1900), who for many years was an employee of the state accounts department of the federal province of Upper Austria. In 1882 he ceded his collection to the Imperial & Royal Technical College for the Iron and Steel Industry in Steyr, where it was used for teaching purposes. The collection came to the Technisches Museum in Vienna during the First World War and, in 1956, part of it was returned to the Iron Museum in Steyr (the present-day Stadtmuseum). Petermandl acquired this sword from the estate of Viennese physician Dr Albrecht von Roretz (1846-1884), who had lived in Japan for many years as a hospital physician and had acquired a sizeable collection. Roretz died relatively young at Schloss Himmel in Obersievering near Vienna.

Depending on its carbon content, iron is either soft and tough, or hard and brittle. Makers of traditional Japanese swords would forge together several layers of the metal, each with different properties. The blocks created as a result were split, superimposed (folded), and then forged yet again. The process was repeated until the craftsman felt that the blade had acquired the optimum properties. It is a process very similar to the one used for producing Damascus steel, which boasts an equally long and proud tradition in the Middle East and South-East Asia. The difference is that the Damascus blades are worked in such a way that the different layers are rendered visible on the surface as attractive veining.

Japan has a long tradition of manufacturing bladed weapons for the warrior caste. It was banned after the Second World War; many swords were seized and destroyed or taken out of the country. It was decades before this exacting and meticulous craftsmanship became widespread once again, attracting international attention in the process.


Date of origin: 12th century?

Manufactured in Japan, Sho-shin Province



Inv.Nr. 63681/1

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