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Zai Mei - This term is used to indicate that a blade has an intact original mei.
Mu Mei - bears no signature at all.
Gi Mei - A gimei blade bears the name of a smith on the nakago who did not make that blade. These signatures are considered fakes. Gimei inscriptions were usually added to enhance the value of a mumei blade or the work of a lesser smith.
Tachi Mei - In general the signature on a sword is inscribed on the side of the nakago which faces outwards when the sword is worn. A sword in tachi mounts is worn edge down. When a sword is held point upwards it has a tachi mei if the signature faces you when the ha (sharp edge) is to the right.
Katana Mei - A sword in katana mounts is worn edge up. A signature is katana mei if the signature faces you when the ha is to the left when the sword is held point upwards.
Omote Mei - The omote mei is the inscription including the swordsmith's signature on the 'front' (outward facing when worn) surface of the nakago.
Ura Mei - An ura mei is an inscription on the inward facing surface of the nakago. This is usually the date the blade was made, but could also be a cutting test or the orderer of the blade.
Niji Mei - This term indicates that the mei consists of the two characters of the swordsmith's given name.
Naga Mei - A naga mei is a long signature which may include the province, title, family name and given name of the smith.
Sanji Mei - This term is similar to niji mei except the third kanji 'saku' - 'made' is included.
Zury˘ Mei - The zury˘ mei is the title given the smith by the Imperial or Provincial courts. Examples are Suke, Kami, Daij˘ etc.
Kaki Kudashi Mei - This is the term used when the province, signature, date etc., occur on one side of the nakago
Tameshi Mei - A tameshi mei is an inscribed report of a sword's sharpness in a cutting test. Such inscriptions are often inlaid with gold.
Kiri Tsuke Mei - This is a memorial inscription. It may note the history of the sword, it's owner, the name of the person who shortened the blade, the name of a cutting tester etc. etc.
Dai Mei - This is a signature of a smith which is chiselled on a nakago by his family or students, with his permission. It is regarded as a genuine signature.
Dai Saku Mei - Swords made in a smith's style by his students with his permission were often signed personally by the smith. This is called dai saku mei and is regarded as genuine.
Orikaeshi Mei - Sometimes when a blade is shortened, the original mei is preserved by folding it back to form part of the newly formed nakago. When viewed the signature appears upside-down. This is an orikaeshi mei.
Gaku Mei - In the case of an ď suriage (greatly shortened) sword, the original mei is sometimes cut out and let into the newly-formed nakago. This is called gaku mei.
Shu Mei - This is a red lacquer inscription applied by an appraiser attributing an ubu, mumei blade to a particular swordsmith.
Kin Z˘gan Mei - A kin z˘gan mei is an attribution inscription in gold inlay on an ď suriage nakago by the Honami family
Gin Z˘gan Mei - This is similar to kin z˘gan mei except the inlay is in silver. Less often seen.
Kinpun Mei - This is an appraiser's attribution inscription written in gold lacquer (gold powder mixed with lacquer).
Mei - Terms