A tantō (短刀, "short sword") is a common Japanese single- or double-edged knife or dagger with a blade length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tantō was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tantō appeared in the Heian period, but these blades lacked aesthetic quality and were used purely as weapons. In the early Kamakura period high-quality artistic tantō began to appear. Tantō production increased greatly around the Muromachi period and then declined.