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Sword Maker
Once considered divine, the centuries-old Taiwanese craft of sword-making is dying.
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2011 13:04

Filmmaker: Matt Allard

Once considered divine, the centuries-old Taiwanese craft of sword making is dying. But one person is doing his best to keep the ancient tradition alive.

For Kuo Chang Shi, sword making has been a lifetime's 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 swordsmiths mass produces swords, and even the handmade ones are completed in one day or two.

Kuo Chang Shi 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 - 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 achievements was the 'Green Destiny' sword he created for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Kuo Chang Shi began a blacksmithing career at the age of 13. It was not 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 preferred occupation, and hiring a young apprentice. If the young man carries on this style of sword making, the art will continue. 

Source:
Al Jazeera
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