Menuki Up Close

Download the full-size picture to use as your desktop wallpaper.

My last desktop wallpaper this week concludes this week’s theme of the Japanese katana.

Tightly-held underneath the bindings of the tsuka-ito, you will normally find two menuki, one of either side of the hilt. Traditionally made from some kind of metal (often brass, but sometimes from precious metals such as silver), they range from plain to elaborately ornate in style. They sometimes match the other furniture on the sword, especially if you buy a blade made today, but that seems to be rarer amongst older blades with original fittings.

The menuki aren’t just ornamental, pretty though they can be; they also serve the purpose of improving the swordsman’s grip by making the tsuka fatter at the points where his hands go. This is one of the reasons why iaidoka (those who practice the art of drawing this beautiful sword) cringe so much when they watch Hollywood movies, where the big action stars grip their swords with their right hand jammed right up under the guard. Millions of dollars in film budgets, and they can’t get the basics right. Sheesh.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s theme. It was requested by the lovely Mrs H. If you have an idea for a desktop wallpaper theme, why not send me a message on Twitter (@stuphotos) and I’ll see what I can do.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll be back on Monday with another weekly theme of wallpaper to share.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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August 2010
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