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#232377 - 02/19/06 10:27 PM Sword Display
keith Offline

Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 4
Is there a respectful way to display swords? I bought a few decorative sets that are stored horizontally, and wanted to know the best way to store them. Should the blade face a specific direction, north, west? should the curvature be up or down? Should it not be in certain rooms in the house?

Thanks for your time and info!!


#232378 - 02/19/06 11:33 PM Re: Sword Display [Re: keith]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Curvature should always be up. I can't vouch for the direction of the handle. I know the one the city of Denton has on display is handle to the right, and I'm reasonably certain that my instructor intentionally displayed it that way on purpose.
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

#232379 - 02/20/06 12:46 AM Re: Sword Display [Re: Charles Mahan]
keith Offline

Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 4
Thanks for the info, but out of curiousity, why is the curvature always up?


#232380 - 02/20/06 01:16 AM Re: Sword Display [Re: keith]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Well storing them edge down allows the razor sharp edge to rest on the inside of wooden scabbard. Probably has something to do with letting moisture collect near the edge as well. Then there's tradition...
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

#232381 - 02/20/06 01:21 AM Re: Sword Display [Re: Charles Mahan]
keith Offline

Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 4
OK. Thanks again for the info. I know it's getting late, but do you know of a link or webpage that you know of where I can read up about it some more?

Although my sword is only decorative, with no "dark spots" on the blade, it mysertiously moved twice. Once the whole display moved to the side, and once the handle moved out of the display, only leaving the blade end in the display. My wife is freaking out, and is trying to find someone to bless the house again.


#232382 - 02/20/06 08:11 AM Re: Sword Display [Re: Charles Mahan]
schanne Offline
breaks things

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 4370
Loc: Woodbury NJ
For what it's worth...if the sword is stored with the handle to the right the "kurigata and sageo" will be faced toward the wall. Not only would you not be able to see the full beauty of the sword but disrespectful to the swordsmith.
The way of the warrior does not include other ways... Miyamoto Musashi Schanne

#232383 - 02/20/06 09:06 AM Re: Sword Display [Re: schanne]
iaibear Offline

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
According to my sensei it is all about respect.
It is disrespectful to the blade to rest its edge on anything that might damage it.
It is disrespectful to the scabbard that would be damaged with an edge sawing on it.
It is disrespectful to your guests to displayed a weapon with the handle to the right. (That would make it easy for the right handed owner to snatch it up and attack.)
It would be disrespectful to artistry of the craftsman who created the weapon to be displayed it in a respectful fashion.
In short, display the sheathed sword with curve up and handle to the left.

#232384 - 02/20/06 10:40 AM Re: Sword Display [Re: keith]
Halley Offline

Registered: 06/13/05
Posts: 126
If you wear a katana, the edge is up and the handle is forward. The sword's blade has two sides, and the side facing out in this situation is called the "omote" or face. The saya's kurigata is on the omote side of the saya, so I tend to think of it like a nose. The edge or "ha" is then kinda like the top of its head or hair.

This is just my way of visualizing the thing, but I notice that most of the sword display etiquette follows the other aspects of reishiki (personal etiquette).


* if you bow to your sword, your sword bows to you
Hilt to the left, omote to the floor, edge to you.

* when seated with sword out, your sword bows to you
Hilt forward, omote to the floor, edge to you.

* when the sword is cast aside, your sword bows to the wall
Hilt right, omote to the floor, edge to the wall.
Note that this depends on which wall; an overriding
concern is to never put the tip toward the tokonoma or
shamisen (areas of honor). If necessary, turn the hilt
correctly but still keep the edge to the wall.

* when the sword is on display, it observes the room
Hilt to the left, omote into the room, edge up.
Generally, choose a wall for display where the tip will
not threaten an entrance or position of honor in the
room, so you can admire the omote and the sword can
admire you.

Again, this is my mode of visualizing and remembering the various considerations for stowing the sword. Separately, when handing the sword from person to person, there are considerations:

* when sheathed, make it ready to draw
If you hand a sword in its saya to someone else, show
trust and honor to the recipient by putting yourself in
harm's way. Hilt to their right, edge up or edge toward
you. Let them take the center of the saya in one hand,
or the hilt in their right hand.

* when unsheathed, make it ready to smite
If you hand an unsheathed sword to someone, show honor
and trust in the recipient by putting yourself in harm's
way. Hold the hilt with your left hand near the tail
end. Edge toward you, tip up. They take the
power position near the guard and could immediately
cut downward. That's a display of trust.

Those who have been in iaido longer than I are encouraged to correct me. I expect they'd think I put too much energy into coming up with this "bowing" analogy but it works for me.

#232385 - 02/20/06 10:47 AM Re: Sword Display [Re: keith]
Walter Wong Offline

Registered: 12/09/04
Posts: 275
Loc: Boston, Massachusetts, United ...
As long as the edge is up on display, everything is ok. And considering you are not a practitioner of Japanese sword arts, it shouldn't matter which side you want to place the handle.

Some Japanese sword art schools will teach you to place the handle to the left. Others teach to have the handle on the right.

Having the handle on the right side made it accessable to the owner/warrior if under threat or danger in ancient times. Japanese swordsmanship arts consistantly make initial contact on the handle with the right hand when deploying the sword for combat. So hence the preference for some to have the handle displayed to the right. At the sametime, some of the aesthetic features of the mountings of the sword are hidden and not seen unless displaying the sword on rack with handle to the left. But this is not of concern to the warrior who is staying ready about sudden attack.

Displaying handle on the left was not for the practical grab right away, right hand get to handle sooner and fight attitude. It was more of a nonwarrior, collector/admirer, scholar and etc. kind of displaying. At the sametime placing handle on left shows the aesthetic and artistic qualities of the sword that is mainly seen when the handle is displayed on the left side. A rapid grab and deploy is not of a concern here. It is also in a sense a more peaceful way of displaying the sword.

A visitor that enters the room that has the sword can see the intent of the owner by seeing whether the handle is on the right or left.

That's a basic idea of the significance of having the handle on right or left. In this day and age of the gun, it doesn't really matter at this point. People just display the way they want by preference and certain traditions.

As for having the edge placed upward, this has been explained already by the others for preservation purposes.

#232386 - 02/20/06 02:23 PM Re: Sword Display [Re: Walter Wong]
awin Offline

Registered: 02/08/06
Posts: 18
Loc: New Mexico
Display the sword with the omote facing out, so the handle would be to left regardless of the kind of sword. This is because the koshirae is desigined to be seen from one side, the same is better on that side, the knots on the tsuka are more attractive on that side and if you have a kozuka/kogatana you will be able to see it, as well as the kurigata and any decorative knotwork with the sageo.

A katana will be edge up.

A tachi will be edge down.

I am not sure if it matters as much for swords in shira saya, but my guess is that if the saya are written on, it will be on the omote depending on if the blade is a katana or tachi, so the above would apply.

Thats for general display. At a dojo it may be different. At our school the kissaki always points away from the shinza, so the racks at one side of the floor have the tsuka on the left and on the other side it is on the right.


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