The menuki is a decorative element placed on the handle (tsuka) of a katana or other Japanese sword. The menuki is usually a small ornament carved out of metal, wood or other materials such as ivory or bone. It is inserted into the hilt and is visible on the sides of the tsuka, just below the sheath (tsukamaki).
The menuki has a primarily decorative function, adding an aesthetic element to the sword and enhancing its overall beauty. It can be designed in a wide variety of shapes and styles, such as dragons, flowers or other traditional Japanese motifs. Some menuki are even designed to be functional, providing the swordsman’s fingers with additional grip and traction on the handle.
Making a proper menuki requires a high level of skill and craftsmanship, as the ornament must be carefully shaped and fitted to the hilt. A well-made menuki can enhance the overall appearance and value of the sword, while a poorly-made menuki can detract from its beauty and value.
Symbolic meaning :
In addition to its decorative role, menuki can also have symbolic meaning. Some menuki are designed to represent specific virtues or ideals, such as loyalty, courage or wisdom. The placement of the menuki on the hilt may also have symbolic meaning, representing the balance and harmony between the blade and the hilt of the sword, as well as the balance and harmony between the swordsman and his weapon.