In Japanese sword terminology; 'mei' is most commonly used to refer to a sword's signature. However, in Japanese craftsmanship it is more than common for a maker to sign their work. You can find 'mei' in woodworking, gun smithing, lacquer work, sword furniture and more!
When speaking of a Japanese sword with katana geometry and mounting one would say katana-mei and when the sword has a distinct tachi geometry one would use the term tachi-mei.
In general, the signature on a Japanese swords always placed on the omote side. A phenomenon that arises with katana- and tachi-mei is that the smith's signature will be on opposite sides of respectively a katana and tachi.
As omote means 'showing side', the signature will be visible from the side that faces away from the wielder. As the tachi is worn cutting edge down and the katana cutting edge up, automatically the omote side with be reversed and thus, also the signature will be on the reversed side.
Another interesting etymological point is that the term mei does not always have to mean a person's signature. The term indeed can be translated as a name (which is the case with signing a made object) but also imprint, texture or mark.
Whereas a signature as used in katana-mei would be written as 刀銘, a stone pattern would be written as 石目~ishi-mei and the marks of a file or rasp as ヤスリ目~yasuri-mei.
Interesting food for thought, can anybody guess what is the signed object in the picture? ;)
- University Home
- All categories
- Sword steel
- Sword furniture
- Japanese Sword Craftsmanship
- Samurai fighting arts (bujutsu)
- Samurai culture and customs
- Myths and beliefs
- Practical hints and guidance for sword owners
17 users online | 17 Guests and 0 Registered
About signatures / mei
- Last update:
- 2015-08-21 13:04
- Jeff - The Samurai Workshop
You cannot comment on this entry
- A heads up on practical sharpening of your katana ... (79826 views)
- The open side upward diagonal cut - Problematic for ... (60542 views)
- Visual Glossary of the Japanese Sword (58153 views)
- Buying a iaito (46191 views)
- How do I display my katana or tachi? (37462 views)
- Training dual sword wielding - Part One. (34005 views)
- Dotanuki (33679 views)
- Double cuts - Getting started (29685 views)
- How the Japanese sword evolved into todays modern Katana ... (29423 views)
- Niku (hira-niku) and tameshigiri (25329 views)
- About signatures / mei (2015-08-21 13:04)
- Recognizing quality of a tsuka (2015-08-21 12:18)
- The Nekomata - (or Strange supernatural cat demons) (2015-02-03 11:55)
- What is Shobu Zukuri? (2015-01-22 00:25)
- What is Suriage? (2015-01-16 12:37)
- Higonokami (2015-01-15 22:31)
- Craftsmen of the Japanese sword (2014-11-26 20:09)
- Kata-te-Uchi (2014-11-18 22:45)
- Does the curvature of the katana really convey any ... (2014-11-12 17:01)
- Kogarasu Maru (2014-11-09 21:33)
- Cardboard tubes as an alternative target (2014-11-02 14:15)
- Are exotic folded steels better for cutters? (2014-11-02 14:14)
- The dangers of Nukitsuke and lapses of concentration. (2014-11-02 14:00)
- On taking some inspiration from Martial artists but still ... (2014-11-02 13:59)
- Stopping distance training (2014-11-02 13:54)