What is Tsukamakishi in Japanese Katana terminology?

A "Tsukamakishi" (柄巻師) is a craftsman who specializes in the decoration and reinforcement of the handle (Tsuka, 柄) of a sword. They attach fittings such as Menuki (目貫) to the handle, which houses the tang (Nakago, 茎) of the sword blade. The Tsukamakishi then applies a layer of ray skin (Samegawa, 鮫皮), which is known for its rough texture, to the base of the handle. This not only enhances the grip but also serves as a base for the final decorative layer. Over this, they wind a cord (Tsukaito, 柄糸), which can be made of braided silk or leather, in a specific pattern. This process not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of the sword but also improves the grip and overall handling of the sword.

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