Blacksmiths marks on kanna blades
Posted on May 2013 by Administrator
Good to hear from you, I am convinced that things are going well with you, and suspect that you have created a lifestyle that is a blend of the homey backwoods and a cool little business community.
The little blacksmiths mark usually found at the top right of a kanna blade ura side is called a Bonji, a small personal mark that can be stamp or hand engraved into the metal which some blacksmiths use year after year or may even be passed on through multiple generations.
A lot of people do not know this but bonji is one of the Sanskrit alphabets called Siddham that was transmitted to Japan through China in the early Buddhist eras of around the year 800.
I became more aware of this when I brought one of my samuri swords for examination to a traditionally trained sword polisher by the name of Hayashi Shigekazu-san who before he unsheathed the katana took a long moment to pray to it. A non-Buddist would not necessarily do this but as you know Buddism and Shintoism suggest that spirts can reside in or as objects. So you will find in the sword world a certain reverence, and the bonji is an acknowledgment of that culture which also spills over into the tool world where many of the older blacksmithing families like Ishido-san were sword makers who continue to attatch to their bonji as a tie-in with their past ancestors and as a show for the reverence of their craft that directly ties them to their ancestors.
I see the bonji as used by a craftsperson as an acknowledgement of an influential force beyond his/her own powers to craft an object.
I hope this helps somehow, Warmly yours, Alex