This sword, White Cloud, was made by the first generation sword smith Masatoshi sometime between 1504 and 1520. It is believed that he studied sword making in the Muramasa school, at Ise Province, then opened his own forge in Sakakura in Mino Province. The records about Masatoshi are obscure due to his association with Muramasa whose blades fell out of favor with the ruling government of Japan. Tokugawa Iyeyasu, who became the ruling shogun in 1603, was superstitious regarding Muramasa swords. He had relatives killed by blades of the sword smith and he personally cut himself badly on a Muramasa blade. He forbade his samurai to wear blades by Muramasa. This led to many legends about the cutting ability of Muramasa swords, as well as plays and dramas in Japanese literature. It is said that "a Muramasa blade always has something evil about it, and once it leaves its scabbard, it never returns to it with out first seeing blood." Since the family of Tokugawa's ruled Japan for almost three hundred years, the records of Muramasa's school, at which Masatoshi worked, became lost or discarded out of fear of reprisal by the ruling government.
This sword is a first quality representation of the Muramasa school. Its name, White Cloud, is derived from the puffy white "clouds" of tempering above the temperline in spots (many Muramasa school blades were named). The cutting test was done on December 18, 1659 by Hirata Juemon and was requested by the Seishi family. Two bodies of convicted criminals were used to perform the test. They would be laid on a sand mound and tied down with ropes. White Cloud went through both bodies and into the sand mound by ten inches. The mound of sand was used so the sword was not damaged while performing the cut. Cutting tests on Koto (old) period swords are rare as well as swords that are named like "White Cloud". This is a most unusual and rare sword with much history behind it.
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