Samurai Swords are seen as single piece, while they are a compound of different parts mounted together to form the final item. Samurai Swords or Katana are therefore the perfect composition that the Sword Smith make carefully to keep an overall design of the Katana. There is a piece that is considered the Symmetry plan of the Katana, which is the Tsuba. Actually, every single piece, except the Habaki, has its equal or the piece that can be compared to it. The blade is compared to the Tang and Tsuka, the Handle, can be compared to the Saya considering that symmetry plan. Even the pieces forming the great parts can be paired with similar pieces ; they certainly have different names but are supposed to compare to each other. But there are pieces that are more comparable than the others, they even keep the same name being on the Blade side or the Tang side ; they have also the same function regardless their positions. They are called Seppa, and are known by Spacers.
What are Seppa?
Seppa or Spacers are pieces that are placed in the area between Tsuba-Habaki and the area between Tsuba-Fuchi. They are twin pieces that have the same look and dimension. Seppa are ellipsoidal and thin little dishes. They inherit the functional holes of the Tsuba -which means they have the triangular hole where the blade has to fit and the two others additional holes if they happen to be present- and may carry some prints of ornaments of patterns. The basic function of these pieces is to ensure the tightness of the mounted pieces of the Katana. Seppa Katana are placed between three complexes of pieces that are destined to interact with each others; thus Seppa ensures the best interactivity without major alterations. The role is therefore to ensure a relative separation of the piece groups to enhance the durability by preserving each group form being negatively affected by the next one, in case of looseness or damages received during use.
At first view, Seppa Katana seem to be perfectly the same but there are some differences. Actually they are not exactly equal in size: one fits the Saya, therefore it fits the upper Seppa Dai -the area surrounding the Nakago Ana, the central hole of the Tsuba, but it lets visible the ornaments carried by the Guard, the other fits the lower Seppa Dai of the Tsuba and it faces the Tsuka and it exceds a little the Fuchi piece. They are supposed to prevent Habaki from being in direct contact with Tsuba and Tsuba from being directly linked to Tsuka. This separation is essential when it is about conducting repair or restoration processes.
Seppa are associated to Sekigane, which are often pegs of Red Copper used to fill in the void left between Seppa and the Tsuba; they crashed during the mounting process to ensure the perfect tightness and to support the Seppa.
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