The Slicer Sword
Medieval Europe and ancient Asia are the focal points of the history of swords. In both parts of the world, weapons, swords and armor in particular, were an essential part of life and death. However, different aspects of the swords were highlighted and developed in each of the different cultural areas. In Europe, for example, swords were intended for function in the first place, while in Asia, they also had an aesthetic purpose. In both parts of the world, designers were craftsmen and scientists alike, working with materials to develop something that was stronger and more durable all the time. They also worked with the warriors to find out what worked best, what they needed, and what items were not as necessary.
The first swords in medieval Europe were designed to cut and stab the opponent. Most of these were one-handed swords, freeing the other hand to hold a shield for protection. However, the development of more advanced armor required a change in the design of the sword so that the weapon could enter the spaces of the armor. As a result, the swords were designed more for thrusting and piercing. In other words, the swords had to be able to target the small openings in the armor. To accomplish this, the swords were made longer, thinner, and with stronger, sharper tips.
In Asia, the story was quite different. The sword makers focused more on improving what they already had. Swords did not undergo evolutionary development to the extent that they did in Europe. Instead, they perfected the technique and began to develop the style. Asian values demand a great appreciation for creating something, and in this appreciation comes a high standard of aesthetics. Beauty is held in high esteem in Asia, which is why swords became admirable pieces of craftsmanship. The Japanese Katana, for example, is a very simple design. However, it is the simplicity that makes it such an efficient weapon because it is made with such high technique and skill that its strength and durability are undeniable.
Japanese samurai evolved from a class of people who were originally guards at castles and government centers. They became masters of warfare and eventually came to be highly regarded in society as a ruling class of respected people. They took such pride in their work as warriors that the disciplines of their practice became an ingrained quality of the culture. In fact, the reason martial arts have survived and enjoyed such popularity even today is because of the great pride and admiration that samurai demanded.
The samurai also did not demand anything but the best in their weapons. The development of the katana and its superior quality is a direct result of the strength of mind of the Samurai class of people.
In the Middle Ages, the manufacture of swords was specialized in all regions of the world. Each area was known for its special style and design. The long swords of Europe, for example, and the Chinese Jian are just a few. Later, in the latter part of the Middle Ages, swords that we are most familiar with today were developed, such as the Scottish ???, the Japanese katana, and the European rapier. These swords had much more ornate designs built into the functionality of the weapon.
In fact, the sword has undergone an astonishing evolution from a simple dagger to a long, elegant, strong and beautiful sword.