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Tanto

Tanto

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.

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Tanto

Tanto

Tantō are generally forged in hira-zukuri, meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tantō have particularly thick cross-sections for armor-piercing duty, and are called yoroidoshi.

Tantō were mostly carried by samurai, as commoners did not generally wear them. Women sometimes carried a small tantō called a kaiken  in their obi primarily for self-defense.

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