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Tradition and transformation

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Posted in: Azteclady Speaks

As some of you may know, I have an Etsy store *cough* *hintnugdewink* *seesidebar* *cough* One of Etsy’s many features is a blog where both staff and members contribute articles. Today’s article, by fukunaga, is a short film portrait of one of Japan’s last living traditional swordsmiths,┬áKorehira Watanabe.

Handmade Portraits: The Sword Maker from Etsy on Vimeo.

I love this man’s ‘quiet intensity’ and his passion for his work.


At one point, Mr Watanabe says (paraphrasing just slightly) that adapting traditional crafts through modern methods or tools is cheating, as it strips away the traditional cultural values–the soul, as it were–of the craft.

While deeply admiring the ingenuity, dedication and artistry that made it possible for artisans long gone to create such amazing items as the Koto sword, I beg to disagree with him. The marrying of traditional crafts with modern perspectives, tools and purposes doesn’t destroy, it creates.

(I am, of course, biased. In a world where there is only one true way, outliers have no place. As a left handed, mostly self-taught, stubborn knitter, most of what I make would be considered poorly made.)