-- Tanto
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Time Period: 13th century to present
Location: Japan
Common Construction: Steel
The tanto is a Japanese dagger carried by Samurai as a secondary or backup weapon. It developed in the middle Kamakura period, in response to new tactics introduced by the Mongol invasions of 1274 and 1281. The isolation of Japan had turned combat into a highly ritualized affair in which most of the fighting was conducted 1 on 1. The Mongols however used formations of troops and attacked en masse. Samurai needed a second weapon so that they could defend against multiple assailants, and they needed a weapon that could function in close quarters.

The tanto addressed both of these issues. It was worn on the right side of the body and was designed to be drawn by the left hand. It could parry attacks and was used as a stabbing weapon in close quarters where the katana's length made it unsuitable.

Like all Japanese blades, tantos have evolved both functionally and artistically over time to match the style of different periods of Japanese culture. The works of Masamune and Yoshimitsu are considered some of the best.

Although originally worn only by Samurai, the tanto's purpose diversified over time. Specialized versions of the dagger were developer for piercing armor, self defense, martial arts, etc. Ceremonial and practice tanto also exist as do daggers created specifically for women.

CE 13th Century, CE 14th Century, CE 15th Century, CE 16th Century, CE 17th Century, CE 18th Century, CE 19th Century, CE 20th Century, Dagger, History, Japan, Present, Weapon

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