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Sword (from Old English sweord, cognate to Old High German Schwert, literally "wounding tool" from a Proto-Indo-European root *swer- "to wound, to hurt") is a term for a long edged weapon, fundamentally consisting 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 among 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).
Template:Main 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.
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, 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, though Bronze Age Egyptian armies were fully equipped with bronze weapons.
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.
The Spatha type remained popular throughout the Migration period and well into the Middle Ages. Vendel Age Spathas were 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 quillons 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. These swords were designed as cutting weapons, although effective points were becoming common to counter improvements in armour. 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.hi
Late Middle Ages and RenaissanceEdit
Template:Main 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 "Fechtbücher" 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.The grip was sometimes wrapped in wire or coarse animal hide to make it harder to knock a sword out of the hand and to prevent the sword from slipping out.
In the 16th century, the large Dopplehänder (called the "Zweihänder" today; both German names refer to the use of both hands) 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.
Template:Dablink 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 sword canes or 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.
Towards the end of its useful life, 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 preeminence in the early 19th century, paralleling the development of reliable handguns.
Swords continued in use, but were increasingly limited to military Commissioned officers' and Noncommissioned officers' 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.
Three types of attacks can be performed with the blade: striking, cutting, and thrusting. The blade can be double-edged or single-edged, the latter often having a secondary "false edge" near the tip; 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 and stiffening 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 foible (weak) of the blade, and that between the Center of Balance (CoB) and the hilt is the forte (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 Zweihänder, a leather cover surrounded the ricasso, and a swordsman might grip it in one hand to wield the weapon more easily in close-quarter combat. The ricasso normally bears the maker's mark. On Japanese blades this mark appears on the tang (part of the blade that extends into the hilt) 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. This style is often referred to as a "narrow" or "hidden" tang. Modern, less traditional, replicas often feature a threaded 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, and is generally the same shape as the grip. 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.
The hilt is the collective term of the parts allowing the handling of the blade, consisting of the grip, the pommel, and a simple or elaborate guard, which in post-Viking Age swords could consist of only a crossguard (called cruciform hilt). 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.
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
Single-edged and Double-edged swordsEdit
One strict definition of a sword restricts it to a straight, double-edged bladed weapon designed 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 swords such as Asian weapons (dāo 刀, Katana 刀) as "swords", simply because they have a prestige very similar to that which attaches 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 refer to essentially 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.
- 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.
- The Japanese short sword, or Wakizashi
- The Japanese samurai sword, or Katana, Tachi and Nodachi
- The longsword (and bastard sword) of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
- The 16th century Dopplehänder or Zweihänder.
- The Chinese anti-cavalry sword, zhanmadao , of the Song Dynasty.
- The East Indian Kris, with a wavy 2-edged blade.
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, the wooden singlestick, and the steel Federschwerter, were also devised and used.
Template:Main 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.
- 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 ) 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  & ) than the US school paddling; in fact hundreds of cases of illegal corporal punishment were reported from public schools as well.
- 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. The Arabic expression Jihad bis saif 'struggle by the sword' means 'holy' war for Islam
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). In the Tarot the sword represents air, as well as intelligence.
- 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, Sword of Mercy, Curtana and Sword of Justice (all can be used as regalia, in England five in total during the coronation);
- 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.
- Its symbolic meaning is also reflected in the existence of prestigious titles, linking people of valor to it, such as (in Islamic traditions):
- It can be awarded as an honorary attribute, like a decoration, known as sword of honour
- Crossed swords have their own particular symbolism, and are in the Miscellaneous Symbols area of Unicode at U+2694 (⚔):
- 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.
Apart from the abovementioned types of symbolical swords, the following individually named swords are noteworthy:
Swords in HistoryEdit
- Snake Sword, which was wielded by the great king Asoka.
- Sword of Gou Jian, a historical artifact from the Spring and Autumn Period.
- Green Dragon Crescent Blade, Sword of Guan Yu, a military general of ancient China during the Three Kingdoms period.
- the Seven-Branched Sword, which Wa received from Baekje.
- Honjo Masamune, Sword of the Tokugawa shogunate, a feudal military dictatorship of Japan established in 1603.
- Jewelled Sword of Offering, Sword of King George IV of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1820-1830).
- Sword of Boabdil, Sword of the last Moorish King in Spain.
Swords of Myth and LegendEdit
- Arondight - Sword of Lancelot
- Fragarach - Sword of Manannan mac Lir and Lugh Lamfada
- Tyrfing - Cursed sword that causes eventual death to its wielder and their kin
- Crocea Mors - Sword of Julius Caesar
- Durandal - Sword of Roland, one of Charlemagne's knights
- Excalibur/Caliburn/Caledflwch - Sword of King Arthur
- Gram - Sword of Siegfried
- Joyeuse - Sword of Charlemagne
- Zulfiqar - Sword of Muhammad
- Curtana - Sword of Ogier the Dane , a legendary Danish hero
- Caladbolg - Sword of Fergus mac Róich
- Claíomh Solais - Sword of Nuada Airgeadlámh, legendary king of Ireland
- Hauteclere - Sword of Olivier, a French hero depicted in the Song of Roland
- Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar - Sword of King Solomon
- Kusanagi - Sword of Susanoo
- Hrunting - Sword of Beowulf
- Sword of Attila the Hun, which he claimed was the sword of Mars, the Roman god of war
- Balmung (Nothung)- Sword of Siegfried, hero of The Nibelungenlied
Swords of Modern FictionEdit
- The Dragon's Tooth from Deus Ex is a sword whose blade is forged on command by nanites.
- The Dragon Sword and the Dark Dragon Sword from Ninja Gaiden.
- The Vorpal blade: Sword from the poem Jabberwocky. Adopted in Dungeons & Dragons as a type of magic sword, has since become common in fantasy.
- Twelve Swords of Power Swords from the Books of the Swords serise written by Fred Saberhagen .
- Stormbringer: Sword of Elric of Melniboné, a character in a series of books by Michael Moorcock.
- Soul Edge and Soul Calibur: the central swords of the popular video game series Soul Calibur
- Soul Reaver: soul devouring sword from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver videogame.
- Tessaiga: Sword of Inuyasha, a character in Japanese anime.
- Tenseiga: Sword of Sesshomaru, a character in Japanese anime.
- The Buster Sword: Sword of Cloud Strife, the main character in the Final Fantasy VII video game.
- The Gunblade: Sword of Squall Leonhart, the main character in the Final Fantasy VIII video game.
- The Keyblade: Sword of Sora, from the Kingdom Hearts video game.
- Lightsaber: Sword concept featured in the Star Wars films and books.
- The Master Sword: Sword of Link, the main character in The Legend of Zelda video game series.
- Masamune: Sword included in many areas of fiction that was named after the Japanese swordsmith Masamune.
- Glamdring Sword of Gandalf , a character in J. R. R. Tolkien 's Lord of the Rings.
- Narsil (Sun and Moon) (later Andúril, Flame of the West) - The sword of Elendil, and later Aragorn in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
- Sting - The sword of Bilbo, and later Frodo in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and also Lord of the Rings trilogy.
- Albion Sword of Robin Hood
- Zar'roc Sword of Morzan , a dead villain in Christopher Paolini 's book Eragon .
- Rhindon Sword of Peter, a character in Chronicles of Narnia .
- Icingdeath and Twinkle Swords of Drizzt Do'Urden , a character in Forgotten Realms
- Frostmourne Sword of Arthas , a character in the Warcraft games.
- Sparda ( or Force Edge ) Sword of Dante , a character in the Devil May Cry games.
- Flamberge , The sword of flame from various Tales games.
- Caliburn , In the Changeling: The Dreaming role playing game, is the symbol of rulership over Concordia, and is wielded by the High King David Ardry ap Gwydion. Its name is an alternate form of Excalibur's.
- Blades of Chaos, In the popular video game God of War
- The Slayer of Kings, in Warhammer Fantasy, the sword of Archaon
- Types of swords
- sword-like objects
- myArmoury.com Featured Content and Articles
- A Beginner's Glossary of Sword Terms
- Anatomy of the Sword
- How Stuff Works: How Sword Making Works
- Medieval Sword Resource Site (vikingsword.com)
- Swords around the World
- Multi-Era and Collectable Swords Site
- The Oakeshott Institute
- Japanese Sword Arts FAQ
- Korean sword arts by Master craftsman Hong Seok-hyeon
- Sword Forum International
- Wikibooks:Sword construction
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