This article related relevant forklore, as well as, proposed ideas relating to the symbolic nature of the mantis as seen on Japanese sword fittings. In doing so, it is quite possible that I have over analyzed the subject matter. However, I have left out one major reason for the use of the mantis as a sword fitting subject matter. The idea can be best described in the modern vernacular as “They are just way cool”. They can look imposing and angelic at the same time. The range of metal work from inlaying of various metals to the modern art like depictions of the sukashi are intriguing and strike a primal cord in anyone that has taste (ok I may be a little biased). The mantis makes a statement without even considering all the other symbolic representations I have proposed.
|Fig. 15: Tsuba Bushu or Choshu school|
Hunting for mantis
I have found mantis in various locations including ebay, yahoo.jp, from dealers and their websites, in stores, and most importnatly from fellow collectors. The best time to find mantises is typically when my monetary funds are low. That usually means that at least 2 will be seen on auction sites, and fellow collectors will offer 2 for sale. These mantises usually go back into hiding when my monetary funds are high. Sometimes, I get lucky and I am able to purchase a piece. I have also found being shameless and soliciting anyone that displays a mantis can work. If nothing else I usually get a picture of an item. If you are on the Internet email lists, you will often hear a mantis calling around September, the month of this author’s birth. In writing this article, I realized the symbolism of autumn and my being born in autumn may be more than a coincidence and I may have a cosmic relationship with this animal, at least that is what Miss Cleo has said.
I hope you have enjoyed some of my insights / guesses into the mantis and its symbolism. As I am not an academic any additions/corrections are appreciated. If you wish to also collect this theme, I warn you now that you will be cursed and hunted by me. Even when I can’t afford to purchase an item, I try to collect photos for future reference. Pictures are appreciated and can be sent to [email protected]. I also accept donations and would be happy to grant visitation rights to anything given. Of course items for sale can also be sent, just remember my “hunting theory”. I hope one day to produce a book on my life’s work (I still have a while to go), although this website may be my compromise and serve as my mark on the samurai collecting world. As a side note, I only collect mantis sword fittings. All other mantis objects can find a different home. I am not interested in receiveing mantis printed underwear or ties. I don't want a mantis coffee mug, or any other object than a genuine Samurai Sword Fitting!!.
Ok I own this one