Blade Weapons - History - Middle Ages - East Asia

East Asia

As steel technology improved, single-edged weapons became popular throughout Asia. Derived from the Chinese Jian or dao, the Korean hwandudaedo are known from the early medieval Three Kingdoms. Production of the Japanese tachi, a precursor to the katana, is recorded from ca. 900 AD (see Japanese sword). Japan was famous for the swords (nihonto) it forged in the early 13th century for the class of warrior-nobility known as the samurai. The types of swords used by the samurai included:nodachi/odachi (extra long field sword), tachi (long cavalry sword), katana (long sword), wakizashi (shorter companion sword for katana), tantō (short sword). Ancient pre-samurai swords included tsurugi (straight double edged blade) and Chokutō (straight single edged blade).

The Japanese katana reached the height of its development in the 15th and 16th centuries, when samurai increasingly found a need for a sword to use in closer quarters, leading to the creation of the modern katana.

Overshadowed by the popularity of Japanese swords, Korean swords have nonetheless risen in recognition, valued in history for its sharpness, beauty, longevity, and craftsmanship. Korean steel and iron production were considered one of the best in East Asia, with Korean warriors often being armed with the highest quality armor and weapons. It is difficult to truly define the Korean sword, due to the fact that many swords exist in Korea that have no distinct relation in style and construction. However, during the Joseon dynasty, a variety of swords were used uniformly by Korean soldiers, including but not limited to the hwando (single edged sabre), Hwandudaedo, Jedok geom (literally, the "Admiral's" sword), and the yedo.

One of the most recognizable Korean swords is the Bonguk geom, colloquially called the sword of the hwarang, the elite warriors of the Shilla kingdom. Prized for its unique and meticulous craftsmanship, the bonguk geom is a single-edged sword usually between 3–4 feet in length, and was used extensively in combat by Korean soldiers even after the Shilla dynasty.

Read more about this topic:  Blade Weapons, History, Middle Ages

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