What is Shumei in Japanese Katana terminology?
"""Shumei"" (朱銘) refers to an inscription written in red lacquer. It is often found on swords that are unsigned and have not been polished, with the inscription typically made by an appraiser from the Hon'ami family.
When appraising a sword that is in its original state (Ubu-nakago: the tang as it was made by the swordsmith) and is unsigned, the appraiser would write the name of the presumed maker in red lacquer to avoid damaging the tang.
For example, on the front of the sword's tang, the name of the maker would be written, and on the back, the inscription ""Hon'ami (with a seal)"" would be written in red.
This practice reflects the high level of respect for the original state of the sword and the careful consideration given to avoid causing any damage. The use of red lacquer for the inscription not only ensures its visibility but also adds a distinctive touch to the sword. The fact that the inscription is made by an appraiser from the Hon'ami family, who were renowned for their expertise in sword appraisal, also adds to the historical and cultural significance of the sword."