Sword Making in Taiwan
Is Kuo Chang-hsi the last traditional
Taiwan's Last Sword-maker from Matthew Allard on Vimeo.
To Kuo Chang-hsi, sword making has been a lifetime occupation. The sword maker has been working with Chinese swords and Japanese swords for the past 30 years. But swordsmithing in Taiwan is a dying art. Modern sword smithing mass produces swords. Even the hand made ones are completed in a day or two. Kuo Chang-hsi spends several weeks on a sword. This is the way to get the best quality work.
The tradition of sword making this expert adheres to, involves adding a special ingredient to the steel. He adds human bones. Sometimes relatives of a deceased person will have a sword made with the addition of their ancestor's bone. It is added to the kiln when the metals have been softened at 2,400 degrees F. The phosphorus from the bones is reputed to improve the quality of the steel. Such swords are also sought after for religious purposes.
One of this craftsman's greatest acheivements was the Green Destiny sword he created for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Kuo Chang-hsi began a blacksmithing career at the age of thirteen. It wasn't his first choice of occupation, but his father insisted. He later transitioned to making swords. He has not enforced the family tradition on his own son, allowing him to pursue his preference of occupation, and hiring a young apprentice. If the young man carries on this style of sword making, the art will continue. Kuo Chang-hsi plans to spend the rest of his life making beautiful Chinese swords and Japanese Swords. He sees his occupation as a calling of God.
More information on this Taiwanese sword smith can be found through the following links:
The China Post
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