Sword

Swiss longsword, 15th or 16th century

Sword (Old English: sweord; akin to Old High German: swerd, "wounding tool"; Proto-Indo-European: *swer-, "to wound, to hurt") is a term for a long-edged, bladed weapon, consisting in its most fundamental design of a blade, usually with two edges for striking and cutting, a point for thrusting, and a hilt for gripping. The basic intent and physics of swordsmanship remain fairly constant, but the actual techniques vary between cultures and periods as a result of the differences in blade design and purpose. The names given to many swords in mythology, literature, and history reflect the high prestige of the weapon (see list of swords).

History

Bronze Age

Humans have manufactured and used bladed weapons from the Bronze Age onwards. The sword developed from the dagger when the construction of longer blades became possible, from the early 2nd millennium BC. The hilt at first simply allowed a firm grip, and prevented the hand from slipping onto the blade when executing a stab. Bronze Age swords with typical leaf-shaped blades first appear near the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and in Mesopotamia. Swords from the Nordic Bronze Age from ca. 1400 BC show characteristic spiral patterns. Sword production in China is attested from the Bronze Age Shang Dynasty. Although numerous origin accounts exist, the first sword is believed to have been forged by the Greek bronzeworker Hephastus (2800 B.C.), who would later be deified as the Grecian god of blacksmiths. Hephastus hit upon the idea of making larger "knives" to assist the local tanner in skinning animals of their hides. When a regiment of Periphero Chortos arrived and witnessed the tanner's use of this curious blade, they requested duplicates of the "arm-length knife" for their own use. These were later dubbed machaira, or sword. Historians debate the exact size of this first sword, but it is generally accepted that the weapons were bronze bars, sharpened along a single edge, between one and two feet in length. They were without later incorporated features, such as hilts and pommels. All in all, these primitive weapons functioned more like sharpened bludgeons. However Areliux, a celtian chief, made the "simitar" a sword that could kill with one hit

Iron Age

Iron swords became increasingly common from the 13th century BC. The Hittites, the Mycenean Greeks, and the Proto-Celtic Hallstatt culture figured among the early users of iron swords. Iron has the advantage of mass-production due to the wider availability of the raw material. Early Iron swords were not comparable to later steel blades, being brittle and soft, they were even inferior to good bronze weapons, but the easier production, and the better availability of the raw material for the first time permitted the equipment of entire armies with metal weapons.

A decorative sword made of gold in 7th century Iran, during the Sasanian Dynasty.

Eventually smiths learned that by adding an amount of carbon (added during smelting in the form of charcoal) in the iron, they could produce an improved alloy (now known as steel). Several different methods of swordmaking existed in ancient times, including most famously pattern welding. Over time different methods developed all over the world.

By the time of Classical Antiquity and the Parthian and Sassanid Empires in Iran, iron swords were common. The Greek Xiphos and the Roman Gladius are typical examples of the type, measuring some 60 to 70 cm. The late Roman Empire introduced the longer Spatha (the term for its wielder, spatharius, became a court rank in Constantinople), and from this time, the term "long sword" is applied to swords comparatively long for their respective periods.

Chinese steel swords make their appearance from the 3rd century BC Qin Dynasty. The Chinese Dao (刀 pinyin dāo) is single-edged, sometimes translated as sabre or broadsword, and the Jian (劍 pinyin jiàn) double edged.

Middle Ages

replica of a Roman Spatha

The Spatha type remained popular throughout the Migration period and well into the Middle Ages. Vendel Age Spathas decorated with Germanic artwork (not unlike the Germanic bracteates fashioned after Roman coins). The Viking Age sees again a more standardized production, but the basic design remains indebted to the Spatha.

It is only from the 11th century that Norman swords begin to develop the quillion or crossguard. During the Crusades of the 12th to (13th) century, this cruciform type of arming sword remains essentially stable, with variations mainly concerning the shape of the pommel. The swords were made to be for thrusting. A stab is more fatal than a slice and difficult to parry. However when a knight thrusts his sword, his defense is completely down, and a stab is easier to dodge than a slice.

Single-edged weapons became popular throughout Asia. Derived from the Chinese Dao, the Korean Hwandudaedo are known from the early medieval Three Kingdoms. The Japanese Katana (刀; かたな), production of which is recorded from ca. 900 AD (see Japanese sword), is also derived from the Dao.

Late Middle Ages and Renaissance

Main articles: Longsword and Zweihänder

From around 1300, in concert with improved armour, innovative sword designs evolved more and more rapidly. The main transition was the lengthening of the grip, allowing two-handed use, and a longer blade. By 1400 this type of sword, at the time called langes Schwert (longsword) or spadone, were common, and a number of 15th and 16th century "fechtbucher" teaching their use survive. Another variant was the specialization of armour-piercing swords of the Estoc type. The longsword became popular due to is extreme reach and cutting and thrusting abilities. The estoc became popular because of its ability to thrust into the gaps in-between plates of armor.

This sword gradually became obsolete as thicker forms of armor rendered the piercing blade ineffective. As armor thickened, blacksmiths labored to increase the size of the sword, resulting in such weapons as the bastard and two-handed sword. Though light blades were retained by cavalry for some time, the infantry blade was eventually abandoned entirely. The largest recorded sword was that forged by Gustav Heinshreck in the 16th century. His "Vervierfachen Sie hat gereicht Blatt" was a sword nearly twelve feet in length, requiring two men to wield effectively. Though capable of penetrating even the thickest armor, it ultimately proved too unwieldy for common use.

In the 16th century, the large Zweihänder concluded the trend of ever increasing sword sizes (mostly due to the beginning of the decline of plate armor and the advent of firearms), and the early Modern Age returned to lighter one-handed weapons.

The sword in this time period was the most personal weapon, the most prestigious, and the most versatile for close combat, but it came to find a greater role in civilian self-defense than in military use as technology changed warfare.

Modern Age

The rapier evolved from the Spanish espada ropera in the 16th century. Both the rapier and the Italian schiavona developed the crossguard into a basket for hand protection. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the shorter smallsword became an essential fashion accessory in European countries, and most wealthy men carried one. Both the smallsword and the rapier remained popular dueling swords well into the 18th century.

As the wearing of swords fell out of fashion, canes took their place in a gentleman's wardrobe. Some examples of canes—those known as swordsticks—incorporate a concealed blade. The French martial art la canne developed to fight with canes and swordsticks and has now evolved into a sport.

The sword served more as a weapon of self-defence than for use on the battlefield, and the military importance of swords steadily decreased during the Modern Age. Even as a personal sidearm, the sword began to lose its pre-eminence in the late 18th century, paralleling the development of reliable handguns.

The hilt of the 18th century sword used by Captain John Paul Schott in the American Revolution.

Swords continued in use, but increasingly limited to military officers and ceremonial uniforms, although most armies retained heavy cavalry until well after World War I. For example, the British Army formally adopted a completely new design of cavalry sword in 1908, almost the last change in British Army weapons before the outbreak of the war. The last units of British heavy cavalry switched to using armoured vehicles as late as 1938. Cavalry charges still occurred as late as World War II during which Japanese and Pacific Islanders also occasionally used swords, but by then an enemy armed with machine guns, barbed wire and armored vehicles would usually completely outmatch swordsmen.

Terminology

The sword consists of the blade and the hilt. The name scabbard applies to the case which houses the sword when not in use.

Blade

Three types of attacks can be performed with the blade: striking, cutting, and thrusting. The blade is usually double-edged; when handling the sword, the long or true edge is the one used for straight cuts or strikes, while the short or false edge is the one used for backhand strikes. Some hilt designs define which edge is the 'long' one, while more symmetrical designs allow the long and short edges to be inverted by turning the sword.

The blade may have grooves or fullers for the purpose of lightening the blade while allowing it to retain its strength, in the same manner as an "I" beam in construction. The blade may taper more or less sharply towards a point, used for thrusting. The part of the blade between the Center of Percussion (CoP) and the point is called the weak of the blade, and that between the Center of Balance (CoB) and the hilt the strong. The section in between the CoP and the CoB is the middle. The ricasso or shoulder identifies a short section of blade immediately forward of the guard that is left completely unsharpened, and can be gripped with a finger to increase tip control. Many swords have no ricasso. On some large weapons, such as the German zweihander, a leather cover surrounded the ricasso, and a swordsman might grip it in one hand to make the weapon more easily wielded in close-quarters combat. The ricasso normally bears the maker's mark. On Japanese blades the mark appears on the tang under the handle.

  • In the case of a rat-tail tang, the maker welds a thin rod to the end of the blade at the crossguard; this rod goes through the handle (in 20th-century and later construction). This occurs most commonly in decorative replicas, or cheap sword-like objects. Traditional sword-making does not use this construction method, which does not serve for traditional sword usage as the sword can easily break at the welding point.
  • In traditional construction, the swordsmith forged the tang as a part of the sword rather than welding it on. Traditional tangs go through the handle: this gives much more durability than a rat-tail tang. Swordsmiths peened such tangs over the end of the pommel, or occasionally welded the hilt furniture to the tang and threaded the end for screwing on a pommel. Modern lower quality replicas often feature a "screw-on" pommel or a pommel nut which holds the hilt together and allows dismantling.
  • In a "full" tang (most commonly used in knives and machetes) the tang has about the same width as the blade. In European or Asian swords sold today, many advertised "full" tangs may actually involve a forged rat-tail tang.

From the 18th century onwards swords intended for slashing, i.e. with an edge, have been curved with the radius of curvature equal to the distance from the swordman's body at which it was to be used. This allowed the blade to have a sawing effect rather than simply delivering a heavy cut. European swords, intended for use at arm's length, had a radius of curvature of around a meter. Middle Eastern swords, intended for use with the arm bent, had a smaller radius.

Hilt

The hilt is the collective term of the parts allowing the handling of the blade, consisting of the grip, the pommel, and in post-Viking Age swords usually a crossguard (called cruciform hilts). The pommel in addition to improving the grip, can also be used as a blunt instrument at close range. It may also have a tassel or sword knot.

The tang consists of the extension of the blade structure through the hilt.

Typology

Swords can fall into categories of varying scope. The main distinguishing characteristics include blade shape (cross-section, tapering and length), shape and size of hilt and pommel, age and place of origin.

For any other type than listed below, and even for uses other than as a weapon, see the article Sword-like object

Double-edged swords

As noted above, the terms longsword, broad sword and great sword (and Gaelic claymore) are used relative to the era under consideration and do themselves designate a particular type of sword.

Single-handed

  • Bronze Age swords, length ca. 60 cm, leaf shaped blade.
  • Iron Age swords like the Xiphos, Gladius and Jian 劍, similar in shape to their Bronze Age predecessors.
  • Spatha, measuring ca. 80–90 cm.
  • The classical arming sword of the Crusades, measuring up to ca. 110 cm.
  • The late medieval Swiss baselard and the Renaissance Italian Cinquedea and German Katzbalger essentially re-introduce the functionality of the Spatha, coinciding with the strong cultural movement to emulate the Classical world.
  • The cut & thrust swords of the Renaissance, similar to the older arming sword but balanced for increased thrusting.
  • Light duelling swords, like the rapier and the smallsword, in use from Early Modern times.

Two-handed

  • The longsword (and bastard sword) of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
  • The 16th century Zweihänder.


Single edged weapons

Katana of the 16th or 17th Century, with its saya.

One strict definition of a sword restricts it to a double-edged weapon used for both slashing and stabbing. However, general usage of the term remains inconsistent and it has important cultural overtones, so that commentators almost universally recognize the single-edged Asian weapons (dāo 刀, Katana 刀) as "swords", simply because they have very similar prestige to that which is attached to the European sword.

Europeans also frequently refer to their own single-edged weapons as swords--generically backswords, including sabres. Other terms include falchion, scimitar, cutlass, or mortuary sword. Many of these essentially refer to identical weapons, and the different names may relate to their use in different countries at different times.

A machete as a tool resembles such a single-edged sword and serves to cut through thick vegetation, and indeed many of the terms listed above describe weapons that originated as farmers' tools used on the battlefield.

Training swords

In both Europe and Asia, wooden "swords" were created to practice fencing without the physical danger of a real sword. These were known as wasters in Europe and bokken in Japan. Special sparring weapons, such as the bamboo shinai and the steel federschwerter, were also devised and used.

Certain martial arts styles, such as kendo, use shinai as their primary weapons, both in training and in competition.

Urumi/Chuttuval (flexible sword)

Classification

Jan Petersen in De Norske Vikingsverd ("The Norwegian Viking Swords", 1919) introduced the most widely-used classification. Ewart Oakeshott in The Sword in The Age of Chivalry (1964, revised 1981) introduced a system of classification for medieval sword blades into types, numbered X – XXII as a continuation of Wheeler's system.

Punishment devices

  • Real swords can be used to administer various physical punishments: to perform either capital punishment by decapitation (the use of the sword, an honourable weapon on military men, was regarded a privilege) or non-surgical amputation.
  • Similarly paddle-like sword-like devices for physical punishment are used in Asia, in western terms for paddling or caning, depending whether the implement is flat or round. For example, the Chinese movie Farewell to my concubine (1993 - see IMDb [1]) shows how a flat, not even very hard type of paddle, called the master's sword, is used intensively to discipline young opera trainees both on the (usually bared) buttock and on the hand (even drawing blood).
  • The shinai, a practice sword, is also used in Japan as a spanking implement, more common in prized private extracurricular schools (illustrated in these 1975 and 1977 articles [2] & [3]) than the US school paddling; in fact hundreds of cases of illegal corporal punishment were reported from public schools as well.

Symbolism

  • The sword can symbolise violence, combat, or military intervention. Jesus' statement, "Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword" uses the term in this sense.

Another example of this metaphorical significance comes in the old saying "The pen is mightier than the sword" -- attributed to Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

In the following cases, the sword stands for arms in general, and has often been retained as a symbol even after it had in operational practice been replaced with firearms etcetera.

  • Swords form a suit in the Tarot deck (replaced by spades in the French deck of playing cards).
  • The sword often functions as a symbol of masculinity and particularly -since its form lends itself to this, especially in erect position- as a phallic symbol of virility. For example, "sword swallowing" is used as an euphemism of fellatio.
  • Swords are also used as emblem or insignia (in or on formal dress such as uniforms, badges, various objects, even coats of arms), especially:
    • as symbol of power, such as a Sword of State and a Sword of Justice (both can be used as regalia);
    • as symbol of armed force, or of a corps entitled to use force as the strong arm of the law, as in military and police insignia, or of a unit (e.g. regiment) of such a corps - as these are numerous, inevitably many variations and combinations (two crossed swords, or with a laurel wreath, crown, national or founder/patron's emblem etcetera) are used.
  • It is also not unusual for swords to represent reason - as in "cutting through" a series of elements in a problem in order to leave only those with proven relevance, for example.

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In the following cases, the sword stands for arms in general, and has often been retained as a symbol even after it had in operational practice been replaced with firearms etcetera. A trailer may be:. Another example of this metaphorical significance comes in the old saying "The pen is mightier than the sword" -- attributed to Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Trailer (information technology), data appended to a main block of data to facilitate its processing. Ewart Oakeshott in The Sword in The Age of Chivalry (1964, revised 1981) introduced a system of classification for medieval sword blades into types, numbered X – XXII as a continuation of Wheeler's system. Teaser trailer, a truncated version of a theatrical or film trailer. Jan Petersen in De Norske Vikingsverd ("The Norwegian Viking Swords", 1919) introduced the most widely-used classification. Trailer (film), an advertisement, usually in the form of a brief excerpt or string of excerpts, for a new film.

Certain martial arts styles, such as kendo, use shinai as their primary weapons, both in training and in competition. Mobile home. Special sparring weapons, such as the bamboo shinai and the steel federschwerter, were also devised and used. Trailer (vehicle), an unpowered vehicle pulled by a powered vehicle. These were known as wasters in Europe and bokken in Japan. In both Europe and Asia, wooden "swords" were created to practice fencing without the physical danger of a real sword.

A machete as a tool resembles such a single-edged sword and serves to cut through thick vegetation, and indeed many of the terms listed above describe weapons that originated as farmers' tools used on the battlefield. Many of these essentially refer to identical weapons, and the different names may relate to their use in different countries at different times. Other terms include falchion, scimitar, cutlass, or mortuary sword. Europeans also frequently refer to their own single-edged weapons as swords--generically backswords, including sabres.

However, general usage of the term remains inconsistent and it has important cultural overtones, so that commentators almost universally recognize the single-edged Asian weapons (dāo 刀, Katana 刀) as "swords", simply because they have very similar prestige to that which is attached to the European sword. One strict definition of a sword restricts it to a double-edged weapon used for both slashing and stabbing.
. As noted above, the terms longsword, broad sword and great sword (and Gaelic claymore) are used relative to the era under consideration and do themselves designate a particular type of sword.

For any other type than listed below, and even for uses other than as a weapon, see the article Sword-like object. The main distinguishing characteristics include blade shape (cross-section, tapering and length), shape and size of hilt and pommel, age and place of origin. Swords can fall into categories of varying scope. The tang consists of the extension of the blade structure through the hilt.

It may also have a tassel or sword knot. The pommel in addition to improving the grip, can also be used as a blunt instrument at close range. The hilt is the collective term of the parts allowing the handling of the blade, consisting of the grip, the pommel, and in post-Viking Age swords usually a crossguard (called cruciform hilts). Middle Eastern swords, intended for use with the arm bent, had a smaller radius.

European swords, intended for use at arm's length, had a radius of curvature of around a meter. This allowed the blade to have a sawing effect rather than simply delivering a heavy cut. with an edge, have been curved with the radius of curvature equal to the distance from the swordman's body at which it was to be used. From the 18th century onwards swords intended for slashing, i.e.

On Japanese blades the mark appears on the tang under the handle. The ricasso normally bears the maker's mark. On some large weapons, such as the German zweihander, a leather cover surrounded the ricasso, and a swordsman might grip it in one hand to make the weapon more easily wielded in close-quarters combat. Many swords have no ricasso.

The ricasso or shoulder identifies a short section of blade immediately forward of the guard that is left completely unsharpened, and can be gripped with a finger to increase tip control. The section in between the CoP and the CoB is the middle. The part of the blade between the Center of Percussion (CoP) and the point is called the weak of the blade, and that between the Center of Balance (CoB) and the hilt the strong. The blade may taper more or less sharply towards a point, used for thrusting.

The blade may have grooves or fullers for the purpose of lightening the blade while allowing it to retain its strength, in the same manner as an "I" beam in construction. Some hilt designs define which edge is the 'long' one, while more symmetrical designs allow the long and short edges to be inverted by turning the sword. The blade is usually double-edged; when handling the sword, the long or true edge is the one used for straight cuts or strikes, while the short or false edge is the one used for backhand strikes. Three types of attacks can be performed with the blade: striking, cutting, and thrusting.

The name scabbard applies to the case which houses the sword when not in use. The sword consists of the blade and the hilt. Cavalry charges still occurred as late as World War II during which Japanese and Pacific Islanders also occasionally used swords, but by then an enemy armed with machine guns, barbed wire and armored vehicles would usually completely outmatch swordsmen. The last units of British heavy cavalry switched to using armoured vehicles as late as 1938.

For example, the British Army formally adopted a completely new design of cavalry sword in 1908, almost the last change in British Army weapons before the outbreak of the war. Swords continued in use, but increasingly limited to military officers and ceremonial uniforms, although most armies retained heavy cavalry until well after World War I. Even as a personal sidearm, the sword began to lose its pre-eminence in the late 18th century, paralleling the development of reliable handguns. The sword served more as a weapon of self-defence than for use on the battlefield, and the military importance of swords steadily decreased during the Modern Age.

The French martial art la canne developed to fight with canes and swordsticks and has now evolved into a sport. Some examples of canes—those known as swordsticks—incorporate a concealed blade. As the wearing of swords fell out of fashion, canes took their place in a gentleman's wardrobe. Both the smallsword and the rapier remained popular dueling swords well into the 18th century.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the shorter smallsword became an essential fashion accessory in European countries, and most wealthy men carried one. Both the rapier and the Italian schiavona developed the crossguard into a basket for hand protection. The rapier evolved from the Spanish espada ropera in the 16th century. The sword in this time period was the most personal weapon, the most prestigious, and the most versatile for close combat, but it came to find a greater role in civilian self-defense than in military use as technology changed warfare.

In the 16th century, the large Zweihänder concluded the trend of ever increasing sword sizes (mostly due to the beginning of the decline of plate armor and the advent of firearms), and the early Modern Age returned to lighter one-handed weapons. Though capable of penetrating even the thickest armor, it ultimately proved too unwieldy for common use. His "Vervierfachen Sie hat gereicht Blatt" was a sword nearly twelve feet in length, requiring two men to wield effectively. The largest recorded sword was that forged by Gustav Heinshreck in the 16th century.

Though light blades were retained by cavalry for some time, the infantry blade was eventually abandoned entirely. As armor thickened, blacksmiths labored to increase the size of the sword, resulting in such weapons as the bastard and two-handed sword. This sword gradually became obsolete as thicker forms of armor rendered the piercing blade ineffective. The estoc became popular because of its ability to thrust into the gaps in-between plates of armor.

The longsword became popular due to is extreme reach and cutting and thrusting abilities. Another variant was the specialization of armour-piercing swords of the Estoc type. By 1400 this type of sword, at the time called langes Schwert (longsword) or spadone, were common, and a number of 15th and 16th century "fechtbucher" teaching their use survive. The main transition was the lengthening of the grip, allowing two-handed use, and a longer blade.

From around 1300, in concert with improved armour, innovative sword designs evolved more and more rapidly. 900 AD (see Japanese sword), is also derived from the Dao. The Japanese Katana (刀; かたな), production of which is recorded from ca. Derived from the Chinese Dao, the Korean Hwandudaedo are known from the early medieval Three Kingdoms.

Single-edged weapons became popular throughout Asia. However when a knight thrusts his sword, his defense is completely down, and a stab is easier to dodge than a slice. A stab is more fatal than a slice and difficult to parry. The swords were made to be for thrusting.

During the Crusades of the 12th to (13th) century, this cruciform type of arming sword remains essentially stable, with variations mainly concerning the shape of the pommel. It is only from the 11th century that Norman swords begin to develop the quillion or crossguard. The Viking Age sees again a more standardized production, but the basic design remains indebted to the Spatha. Vendel Age Spathas decorated with Germanic artwork (not unlike the Germanic bracteates fashioned after Roman coins).

The Spatha type remained popular throughout the Migration period and well into the Middle Ages. The Chinese Dao (刀 pinyin dāo) is single-edged, sometimes translated as sabre or broadsword, and the Jian (劍 pinyin jiàn) double edged. Chinese steel swords make their appearance from the 3rd century BC Qin Dynasty. The late Roman Empire introduced the longer Spatha (the term for its wielder, spatharius, became a court rank in Constantinople), and from this time, the term "long sword" is applied to swords comparatively long for their respective periods.

The Greek Xiphos and the Roman Gladius are typical examples of the type, measuring some 60 to 70 cm. By the time of Classical Antiquity and the Parthian and Sassanid Empires in Iran, iron swords were common. Over time different methods developed all over the world. Several different methods of swordmaking existed in ancient times, including most famously pattern welding.

Eventually smiths learned that by adding an amount of carbon (added during smelting in the form of charcoal) in the iron, they could produce an improved alloy (now known as steel). Early Iron swords were not comparable to later steel blades, being brittle and soft, they were even inferior to good bronze weapons, but the easier production, and the better availability of the raw material for the first time permitted the equipment of entire armies with metal weapons. Iron has the advantage of mass-production due to the wider availability of the raw material. The Hittites, the Mycenean Greeks, and the Proto-Celtic Hallstatt culture figured among the early users of iron swords.

Iron swords became increasingly common from the 13th century BC. However Areliux, a celtian chief, made the "simitar" a sword that could kill with one hit. All in all, these primitive weapons functioned more like sharpened bludgeons. They were without later incorporated features, such as hilts and pommels.

Historians debate the exact size of this first sword, but it is generally accepted that the weapons were bronze bars, sharpened along a single edge, between one and two feet in length. These were later dubbed machaira, or sword. When a regiment of Periphero Chortos arrived and witnessed the tanner's use of this curious blade, they requested duplicates of the "arm-length knife" for their own use. Hephastus hit upon the idea of making larger "knives" to assist the local tanner in skinning animals of their hides.

Although numerous origin accounts exist, the first sword is believed to have been forged by the Greek bronzeworker Hephastus (2800 B.C.), who would later be deified as the Grecian god of blacksmiths. Sword production in China is attested from the Bronze Age Shang Dynasty. 1400 BC show characteristic spiral patterns. Swords from the Nordic Bronze Age from ca.

Bronze Age swords with typical leaf-shaped blades first appear near the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and in Mesopotamia. The hilt at first simply allowed a firm grip, and prevented the hand from slipping onto the blade when executing a stab. The sword developed from the dagger when the construction of longer blades became possible, from the early 2nd millennium BC. Humans have manufactured and used bladed weapons from the Bronze Age onwards.

. The names given to many swords in mythology, literature, and history reflect the high prestige of the weapon (see list of swords). The basic intent and physics of swordsmanship remain fairly constant, but the actual techniques vary between cultures and periods as a result of the differences in blade design and purpose. Sword (Old English: sweord; akin to Old High German: swerd, "wounding tool"; Proto-Indo-European: *swer-, "to wound, to hurt") is a term for a long-edged, bladed weapon, consisting in its most fundamental design of a blade, usually with two edges for striking and cutting, a point for thrusting, and a hilt for gripping.

It is also not unusual for swords to represent reason - as in "cutting through" a series of elements in a problem in order to leave only those with proven relevance, for example. regiment) of such a corps - as these are numerous, inevitably many variations and combinations (two crossed swords, or with a laurel wreath, crown, national or founder/patron's emblem etcetera) are used. as symbol of armed force, or of a corps entitled to use force as the strong arm of the law, as in military and police insignia, or of a unit (e.g. as symbol of power, such as a Sword of State and a Sword of Justice (both can be used as regalia);.

Swords are also used as emblem or insignia (in or on formal dress such as uniforms, badges, various objects, even coats of arms), especially:

    . For example, "sword swallowing" is used as an euphemism of fellatio. The sword often functions as a symbol of masculinity and particularly -since its form lends itself to this, especially in erect position- as a phallic symbol of virility. Swords form a suit in the Tarot deck (replaced by spades in the French deck of playing cards).

    Jesus' statement, "Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword" uses the term in this sense. The sword can symbolise violence, combat, or military intervention. The shinai, a practice sword, is also used in Japan as a spanking implement, more common in prized private extracurricular schools (illustrated in these 1975 and 1977 articles [2] & [3]) than the US school paddling; in fact hundreds of cases of illegal corporal punishment were reported from public schools as well. For example, the Chinese movie Farewell to my concubine (1993 - see IMDb [1]) shows how a flat, not even very hard type of paddle, called the master's sword, is used intensively to discipline young opera trainees both on the (usually bared) buttock and on the hand (even drawing blood).

    Similarly paddle-like sword-like devices for physical punishment are used in Asia, in western terms for paddling or caning, depending whether the implement is flat or round. Real swords can be used to administer various physical punishments: to perform either capital punishment by decapitation (the use of the sword, an honourable weapon on military men, was regarded a privilege) or non-surgical amputation. The 16th century Zweihänder. The longsword (and bastard sword) of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

    Light duelling swords, like the rapier and the smallsword, in use from Early Modern times. The cut & thrust swords of the Renaissance, similar to the older arming sword but balanced for increased thrusting. The late medieval Swiss baselard and the Renaissance Italian Cinquedea and German Katzbalger essentially re-introduce the functionality of the Spatha, coinciding with the strong cultural movement to emulate the Classical world. 110 cm.

    The classical arming sword of the Crusades, measuring up to ca. 80–90 cm. Spatha, measuring ca. Iron Age swords like the Xiphos, Gladius and Jian 劍, similar in shape to their Bronze Age predecessors.

    60 cm, leaf shaped blade. Bronze Age swords, length ca. In European or Asian swords sold today, many advertised "full" tangs may actually involve a forged rat-tail tang. In a "full" tang (most commonly used in knives and machetes) the tang has about the same width as the blade.

    Modern lower quality replicas often feature a "screw-on" pommel or a pommel nut which holds the hilt together and allows dismantling. Swordsmiths peened such tangs over the end of the pommel, or occasionally welded the hilt furniture to the tang and threaded the end for screwing on a pommel. Traditional tangs go through the handle: this gives much more durability than a rat-tail tang. In traditional construction, the swordsmith forged the tang as a part of the sword rather than welding it on.

    Traditional sword-making does not use this construction method, which does not serve for traditional sword usage as the sword can easily break at the welding point. This occurs most commonly in decorative replicas, or cheap sword-like objects. In the case of a rat-tail tang, the maker welds a thin rod to the end of the blade at the crossguard; this rod goes through the handle (in 20th-century and later construction).

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