The latest Ancient Origins features Chen Shih-Tsung, a passionate modern-day citizen of Taipei who’s revived the ancient Chinese art of fine swordcasting:
Chinese legends tell of a kind of infallible sacred sword, forged from meteorite material, that gave its bearer an apparently supernatural advantage over his opponents. The creation of such a sword seems beyond the capabilities of ancient technology, but modern sword-maker Chen Shih-Tsung has revived the art successfully—guided, he says, by instructions imparted to him by celestial beings.
In making the swords, one’s heart has to be incredibly calm, Chen explained. He sits in meditation for an hour before starting a grinding session. Casting swords of this kind has an irreplaceable human and spiritual element.
Chen is in the process of teaching his sons how to grind swords, and it sits on their shoulders to carry on the tradition.
It’s a heavy weight, too. The tradition of swordcasting is enormously significant to Chen. “The value of a masterpiece sword can never be calculated in money terms,” he explains. “It is an invaluable treasure which ought to be an heirloom for future generations to admire and cherish.”
Chen embodies Charles Dickens’ prescription for how a humane and fulfilled person should live: “in the Past, the Present, and the Future.” By reviving an old tradition, he has “made it new,” thereby enriching and expanding the present with “an invaluable treasure” that will inspire future generations. That’s quite a feat.