Basic Sword History

Swords are iconic. They show up in movies, video games, and of course, history. There are actually hundreds of different sword designs and we aren’t going to cover them all in this article, but let’s talk about the most common swords from around the globe and the regions which they came from.

Let’s learn a little about the swords from each region!

European Swords

Many swords came out of Europe. In fact, the most easily recognizable swords came from this region of the world. This includes swords such as the Scottish claymore and longsword. Some of these swords were so large in size that the user would often have to use both hands, choosing to forgo a shield.

The rapier is another sword which came out of Europe. The rapier had a long a long and narrow blade. The key feature of the rapier, however, was it’s hilt. The hilt was designed to block or even disarm the opponent. These swords were often used in fencing

The backsword was another sword which came out of Europe. Variations of this sword included certain claymores and cutlasses. These blades of these swords have thick backs, making for a heavier and more forceful blade.

Asian Swords

There are many sword designs originating from Asia as well.

Chinese Swords

There are two major variations of Chinese swords. These are the dao sword and the jian sword. These were first invented during China’s Bronze Age. Typically, the dao sword had slightly curved, single-edged blades, while the jian sword is a simple double-edged sword.

Japanese Swords

The Japanese had sword designs of their own.

The most well-known is probably the katana, which was the sword design historically used by Japanese Samurai. The katana is known as a nihonto sword. Their common trait is that they have a long, single-edged blade, with an accompanying long handle. These swords were quite versatile and were able to be wielded by either one or two hands.

Other Japanese blades include: odachi, tachi, nodachi, tsurugi and wakizashi.

African Swords

Africa has not been known to have many sword-styles.

One style is known as the khopesh, but it actually originated from Egypt. The khopesh resembled a sickle and you can actually see a version of this knife in the movie ‘The Mummy’.

Another design was known as the shotel. This style originated in Ethiopia and was comprised of a simple wooden handle and curved blade.

A third notable design is the ‘ida’, which was used by the Yoruba people of West Africa. This blade is initially narrow at the hilt, but grows thicker as the blade extends to the tip. The blade was considered multi-purpose.

American Swords

There actually aren’t many American-style swords. This is because by the time America was colonized, modern weaponry already existed.

There was, however, the macuahuitl, which was a sword used by the Aztecs. Traditionally, it was made from volcanic glass such as obsidian.

Surprisingly, obsidian makes a very sharp and jagged material.

Most other swords in American, such as those used during the civil war were based on designs borrowed from the Europeans.

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