Samegawa – Ray Skin Benefits
The most sought after Katana Samegawa is made of high grade ray skin. Even if this measures 26 inches on average each skin is unique and surprisingly affordable. Samegawa is also known as Same-Kawa. This wraps the tsuka or handle/hilt. This handle is made of wood. Look for solid core with panels rather than focus on full Samegawa because some of this has tanned ray skin but, has no structural value since some materials are remove during the process of wrapping. All that it does is to have a slimmer weaker core in favor of full wrap. The important part of the process should be to soak raw and wrap tanned leather Katana Samegawa to dry and condense. This is how it will add strength to the Tsuka. How fat this would be will actually depend on the thickness of the wood.
Tanned leather is tough as evidence these are used to manufacture motorcycle seats and gun holsters are made out of this material. Although this is a very tough material the strength of the core lies on how it is prepared and how the Nakago is carved. This must be done the right way. As a rule of thumb, better quality cost more. The same forging method used by ancient Japanese sword makers that produce a sharp razor sword are the same methods used to create accessories like this for the sword. This comes with genuine ray skin handle and high quality copper fittings. Some hilt are even fitted with ray skin and wine silk Ito. The nodes found on the Samegawa have tiny hooks. This helps in keeping the Ito in place so that it wont loosen up, this encourages better grip. In other words there are no slip-ups and accidental cuts. Some say that shark skin also serves the same purpose as ray skin.
Getting to Know Katana Samegawa
There was a time when this part of the blade was not used. When it was discovered that there is a reason for using Katana Samegawa, swordsmiths start to incorporate this in the process of Japanese sword making. Samegawa is also referred to as Same. This was popular during the Heian period which covers 794 to 1185 A.D. It is skin from the belly of ray. This is specifically cowtail stingray that has a rough and granular surface. This is use to decorate the Saya and to cover the hilt while it allows the sword owner to grip the blade. Some common terms use for this wrapping is Same-Tsuka which means unwrapping the hilt covered with ray skin. Special care and attention must be given to the outer dimensions of the hilt, Fuchi and Kashira so that it would be easy to wrap this. Samegawa-Zutsumi no Tsuka is the general term used to describe ray skin cover. This can be applied in three ways to the Tsuka.
Hara-awase-gise which describes wrapping around the hilt or handle
Maedare-gise, the ray skin wraps the entire hilt with the joint along the cutting edge
Tanzaku-gise where two strips are attach on each side of the hilt