Highlander Wiki

The Masamune Katana

The preferred weapon of Immortal Connor MacLeod, the ivory-handled Masamune katana is a weapon like no other. It was forged in 593 B.C. by the legendary master swordsmith Masamune for Immortal Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, as a dowry for his marriage to Princess Shakiko. Using revolutionary techniques which would not become common until the 14th century A.D., Masamune folded the metal in the blade over two hundred times, creating the katana's infamous razor-sharp edge. Ramírez would keep the weapon until his dying day, when he lost his head to his old enemy The Kurgan.

After Ramírez's death, his student Connor claimed the weapon for his own. He exercised a great care and maintenance upon it, leaving his own mark by etching inspirational writings upon its blade: one, in particular, preached focus on the present, using the ancient Sanskrit phrase: "I cannot cross another river,"  according to the novelization. In this version, Ramirez had also etched his own inscription as well: "No one lives forever" written in Japanese characters, expressing his own sense of ironic humor.

Connor nearly lost his prized weapon twice in his lifetime: the first was when he fought his old adversary, the Kurgan, aboard the H.M.S. Victory under the command of Admiral Nelson. Kurgan was able to keep Connor's sword from his possession for over a century until the gypsy woman Stasya stole it as he slept. Connor retrieved the weapon centuries afterward from Masamune's ruthless Immortal son Ren (Highlander: Way of the Sword). The second time occurred when the Immortal Kane shattered the katana's blade during a duel on holy ground, forcing Connor to consider abandoning the weapon. Connor was able to reforge the katana with the assistance of Alex Johnson.

Details and Characteristics:[]

This beautiful katana features a fairly long (12.5 inches) two-handed hilt made of ivory. It contains four individual Japanese portraits painstakingly engraved on it, ending in a fierce open-mouthed dragon's head at the pommel, its scaly tail wrapped around the bottom of the handle. The circular brass tsuba (guard) is exquisitely designed with a unique Japanese pattern. A brass mekugi (retaining pin) located towards the pommel holds the entire sword together. The blade, with its metal having been folded over 200 times, is surgically sharp and contains no fuller.

Originally, Ramirez wore the katana frogged to his belt in a lovely crimson sheath with gold highlights. Unfortunately, this sheath was lost in the rubble of Connor's castle during Ramirez's final and fatal duel with the Kurgan. Centuries later, Connor is seen keeping the sword in a plain black Japanese sheath, possibly made for him by the Sorceror and swordmaker Nakano. Addendum: There were scenes cut from the original film showing the dragon katana and it was still with the original Saya (sheath).

The 1986 film novelization refers to the ivory-handled katana as a very well balaced sword with a diamond hard blade; along with its mention of the Sanskrit inscription, it also desribes the blade as "wakizashi-length."

Miscellaneous Information[]

-The ivory-handled katana used in the 1986 film was originally based off of Marto of Spain's Ivory Katana. Feeling that its overall appearance was somewhat lacking, the film's production crew refitted the sword to be much more dynamic onscreen. Here, a Chinese dragon head with a partial winding tail was sculpted to the bottom of the handle, as well as an custom designed handguard replacing Marto's. The entire hilt was painted white to blend in together, and held together with a brass screw towards the pommel. The Marto katana's fuchi was also removed along with its hilt portion to make room for the thicker customized guard.

-Although the ivory-handled katana is the featured weapon of the Highlander movie series, its hilt and fittings have notable changes throughout each of the different movies. The ivory hilt was resculpted and aged to look more bonelike in appearance in the second film; it returned to an ivory finish in the third film with a fuchi (hilt collar) added, having been sculpted by propmaker Jose de Braga. The tsuba (guard) is mildly different in each film. The tsuba and handle in the second film were meant to show the aging of the materials, hence why the handle and tsuba appeared much more worn and used. The tsuba was meant to be the same design in the third film, however the production company had pushed so fast to film that they accepted any design and DeBraga sent the one that was ultimately used in the finished product. The sword is given an unusual black habaki (blade collar) in "Highlander: Endgame." (This was actually due to the poor attention to detail in the prop department; that "black habaki" was actually the black rubber insert to the Marto sword scabbard, since the Marto sheaths are made of metal and have a rubber insert to keep the blade from rubbing against the wall of the scabbard).

-Blooper: At the end of the 1986 film, Connor drops the katana as he receives the Kurgan's Quickening and The Prize. As the sword hits the ground, the dragon's head noticeably breaks off the hilt and skitters away.

-According to dialogue in an early episode of "Highlander: The Series" first season "Free Fall," it was implied that Duncan MacLeod's dragonhead katana was the original ivory-handled katana, having been passed on to him by Connor. However, this was later retconned in the third season's "The Samurai," and the two individual swords were seen together as seperate weapons in "Highlander: Endgame." In "The Samurai", it was also stated that Duncan's dragonhead katana was forged not by Masamune, but by Masahiro.