Katana

The first use of katana as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi occurs as early as the Kamakura Period (1185–1333). These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower-ranking warriors. The Mongol invasions of Japan facilitated a change in the designs of Japanese swords. Thin tachi and chokutō-style blades were often unable to cut through the boiled leather armour of the Mongols, with the blades often chipping or breaking off. The evolution of the tachi into what would become the katana seems to have continued during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the katana-style mei were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the mei facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner.

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