Posted by Swords and Weapons on April 27, 2014
The katana is a type of Japanese sword, also commonly referred to as a "samurai sword",
and generally defined as the standard size moderately curved (as opposed to the older "tachi" style featuring more curvature) Samurai sword with a blade length of greater than 60 cm (23.6 inches).
The Samurai Sword is characterized by its distinctive appearance: a curved, slender, single edged blade, circular or squared guard, and long grip to accommodate two hands. It has historically been associated with the samurai of feudal Japan, and has become renowned for its sharpness and cutting ability.
The history of the Samurai Sword, Also known as a Katana, evolved as a more sleek and compact alternative to the tachi. Its origins go at least as far back as the Kamakura Period, with several blades dated from that time residing in various national repositories.
Its growth in popularity is believed to have been due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the Samurai sword was well suited to combat where victory depended heavily on fast response times. The katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the bladed edge facing upwards. Ideally, samurai could draw the sword and strike down the enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt.
The length of the blade varied considerably during the course of its history. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, katana blades tended to be between 70 to 73 cm (27.6 to 28.7 in) in length. While during the early 16th century, the average length was closer to 60 cm (23.6 in). By the late 16th century, the average length returned to approximately 73 cm (28.7 in).
The Samurai sword was often paired with a similar smaller companion sword, like a wakizashi or a shōtō (essentially a short sword). It could also be worn with the tantō, an even smaller similarly shaped knife. The katana and wakizashi when paired with each other were called the daishō and they represented the social power and personal honor of the samurai.
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