Discussion in 'Japanese Swords and Sword Arts' started by shesulsa, Jan 12, 2007.
ATTENTION ALL USERS
Please return to the original topic.
MT Sr. Moderator
I suppose the only flaw in your argument is that Japan would not have to rely on direct trade with India to get its high quality steel. Secondly the book I read mentioned a Murcury trade with China (Also how Japan got the steel). The Author Specificly requests in the Authors notes that I not drag his sources into arguments such as these; and, because I detect information prejudice, I will remain open to both possibilities.
If the work is legitimate and uses credible, verifiable sources, it seems unreasonable that the author would be reluctant to have his work "peer reviewed". After all, this is how history is authenticated. To me, his position is immediate cause for skepticism.
If he refuses to cite and share his sources, he'll have to be content with being viewed by as not credible, unless he's simply repeating well-known historical fact.
btw, what's "Murcury"?
That's OK Sean. It is not my intention to burst anyone's bubbles, just to share whatever small amount of learning that I may have gathered over the years. I do need to correct you in an erroneous assumption of yours though. You assume that you detect "information prejudice" because I disagree with your point of view. This is not so. My opinions and point of view that I expressed earlier about Japanese sword making is the result of a number of years of casual research into the history of Japan and the Japanese sword. Both of these subjects are of great interest to me since I practice a koryu sword art that originated in about 1640. I've read dozens of books on the Japanese sword and Japanese history. I have had long discussions with folks whose job is to teach Japanese history at Universities. I've had numerous discussions with folks that make Japanese swords, polish Japanese swords, and collect Japanese swords. I've also had the good fortune to have interesting discussions with many long time practitioners of the Japanese sword arts. This is the background with which I form my opinions. It doesn't mean that they can't be wrong, just that a lot of factors went into forming them. Despite this, you accuse me of "information prejuduce" because I do not agree with your single source, a book of fiction, by an author that specifically states not to use his sources. That is NOT information prejudice.
To Ms. Piszczek, Sr. Mod,
The original topic was answered earlier in the thread, but my answers were challenged as to their veracity. I felt that I needed to provide a little background as to why I believed that my answers were correct. If I've strayed too far off topic, I apologise. Please feel free to delete this post if that's the case.
He does cite his sources. I am not re-citing them on this site.
He writes science fiction, not history.
If you produce some legitimate historical sources that confirm that Japan imported iron ore from India centuries ago, I'm sure many of us will be inclined to believe you.
In the meantime, I'll attribute Mr. Stephenson's claims (such as they may be) to this effect to artistic license.
For crying out loud, do you realize what you're relying on? This is a SCIENCE FICTION book by an author who is telling you to NOT MENTION HIS SOURCES. My mind is seriously, completely blown that you would take his word over those who have studied Japanese sources and are familiar with the laws that govern sword production.
Really, seriously, honestly, do you believe the katana can cut through a car as see in the Matrix trilogy? Because hey, that's science fiction too, and they don't mention their sources either.
Please, either try harder or not at all. I don't really care how low your standards happen to be, it's very unlikely they are shared by many people who have studied this subject in depth. A science fiction author saying something without supporting sources is simply not credible evidence of anything. You can believe otherwise if you like, no one can bring you back down to earth by force, but please don't expect others to take you seriously when making an argument like this. Your sources are far from being serious or recognized.
And for those interested in actual, credible sources, I give you this:
Consideration of Western Iron (the lie of a tamahagane myth)
It's quite an interesting read. A source cited is Tanzo Hiroku by the swordsmith Suishinshi Masahide. Another is "Kenko Hidwnshi" (obviously a bad romanization but I don't have the time to track it down in the Japanese version right now) by the same swordsmith, which apparently describes a shortage of Indian steel. A swordsmith by the name of Sumitani Masamine based himself on those two works to come to the conclusion that perhaps Suishinshi used Indian steel in his work to copy a Toranba hamon.
This is all very interesting to me, but of course the fact that they are thinking perhaps this swordsmith used Indian steel, and maybe others did as well, does not mean in any sense that Japanese swords were generally made with Indian steel. Actually, the very fact that this was researched by the swordsmith Sumitani and that it is his view and not necessarily proven argues that this was not necessarily a common thing. Of course, along with the fact that the sword was forged differently depending on the period, using perhaps different steel or a different way of making tamahagane, all speak against the view that Japanese swords were generally made from Indian steel, which is simply not the case.
So there you have it. A source, an argument, and it all seems to make sense to me. Did it happen that swords were forged with Indian steel? Yes. Was the katana on the whole superior to other swords because it was made with Indian steel? No, because it was not generally made of Indian steel.
I don't know whether Neal Stephenson is wrong, or your interpretation of what he said is wrong, but definitely this statement:
Is simply not true.
Uh guys ... I just wanted to know about clay-tempered blades. Let's all calm down a bit, eh?
Hmmmm I'll have to watch that scene again when I get home tonight.
I don't think a katana could chop a car in half or anything, but I bet you could slice into a car and leave a nasty gash in the body especially in one of today's thin-gauged metal autobodies.
This book is not science fiction. He writes science fiction, but that doesn't make all his writting science fiction. This book is historical fiction. I love how logic bends on this site. And for God's sake I said the author cited his sources. He cited his sources, He cited his sources, He cited his sources He cited...
I believe the operative word is FICTION dude get a clue
ATTENTION ALL USERS:
Please, keep the conversation polite and respectful.
-MT Super Moderator-
Geeze, and I thought I was bad. Where is Don when you really need him?
Fiction is fiction is fiction.
He cites his sources? Well, that's nice, if only you were willing to tell us what they were. I'm not about to go buy and read the whole book just to contradict what it says, either. Tell me about sources, or there is nothing to talk about.
I found my own sources. They don't seem to agree that japanese swords were superior because they were made of indian steel. You're not willing to tell us who says that, apart from a fiction author. Your sources may have been discredited, they may be imaginary, they may be anything at all, but we won't be able to see because you won't tell us what they are.
If you're not confident enough to cite sources, you shouldn't cite the conclusion. There's just no point. If the author himself said not to use them, then doesn't that tell you something about his conclusion? I don't imagine he said "don't cite my sources, but do tell people they are wrong based on the conclusion I got from them". It just doesn't seem likely.
I apologize for my harshness earlier, and I will try to control myself better in the future.
One thing I've been thinking is, with modern metallurgy, are traditionally made Japanese blades worth the extra cost outside of being a collectors item? With the current stainless alloys, wouldn't you be better off, for practicalities sake, buying something more modern?
I understand the reasoning behind wanting a traditional blade, but is the steel any better than what we can get for a lot less money these days?
Not meaning to ruffle any feathers,
Flying Crane and Howard have already given excellent descriptions of the process, and for that, we thank you!
On another note:
Today's steels are superior to the steels that were available just a couple of centuries ago. With modern day technology, better refinement, and precise controls, you can produce a steel that has far fewer impurities in it, especially compared to the steels used in Japan during the times of interest. Also, the consistency is remarkably better.
Still, though, this does not change the fact that almost all types of stainless steel are still inappropriate for long blades.
You'll tear through the sheet metal, for certain. In fact, you'd probably keep cutting through, until you hit one of the steel support beams. I remember having a discussion with some of the techies at Corbon Ammunition about this, and they all agreed that any decent sword (and any centerfire handgun caliber) could certainly accomplish this.
I agree with you.
The consistency of quality of today's steel stock is definitely better than that of yesteryear's tamahagane. That really shouldn't surprise anybody, given the technological advances of the last century or so.
Your point about stainless steel is also well taken. Because of its hardness, it's just too brittle to stand up to the forces that a katana is subject to during cutting. I believe that Paul noted either here or in another thread that some innovative modern smiths have developed methods for producing sturdy katana from stainless steel, but they are the exception rather than the rule, and from what little I understand about it, producing them is complicated and very expensive.
For a good example of modern katana made by the traditional forging / welding and differential heating method, check out the stuff that Bugei is producing today. They use something they call Swedish powdered steel for their hand-forged blades. Their swords consistently get good reviews from serious Iaido people, especially for their durability when it comes to cutting targets. They also have a very good reputation for quality control and customer service.
Unfortunately, they're pretty expensive (all of their katana are over $1,000), and there are a few months of lead time involved when you purchase one.
I'd say not necessarily, but I think that a lot of the cost of a hand-forged blade today is due to the labor involved. Forging and polishing a katana by hand takes time and a lot of expertise, and there just aren't that many people around who are qualified to do this stuff. So, the supply is low. On the demand side, there seems to be a buyer for every quality hand-forged sword that anybody well known produces. So, I guess it's basic economics. Scarce commodity, relatively high demand... equate to high price.
It's still fiction. And you have said that he said not to cite his sources... That makes the "research" questionable, in my book. Jerry Pournelle, Robert Asprin and many other science fiction authors in various books start chapters with qoutes from a variety of sources. They sound quite official. Very often, they're totally fictional because the "source" in question hasn't been written.
While a message board posting isn't a scholarly paper -- when the source for information says his sources shouldn't be used, it's just hard to take it seriously.123
Separate names with a comma.