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Daishō swords pair

A Daishō ( Japanese 大小 , dt. "Big-small") is the pair of swords of a samurai .


The pair of Daishō swords consisted of either a tachi and a dagger ( Tantō ) or a long sword ( katana ) and a short sword ( wakizashi ). Tantō and Wakizashi differ in their size and blade shape. The short sword is slightly longer than the dagger and the blade is more curved. The swords Tachi and Katana differ in the way they are carried, the shape of their blades and the design of the handles.


In the Kamakura period (1192 to 1333), the samurai wore the tachi, which was carried on the side with the cutting edge down like European swords. The dagger (Tantō) was carried tied into the obi . At the end of the Muromachi period (1338 to 1573) it became a tradition to carry both swords (katana, wakizashi) together. The two swords were carried with the edge up in an obi, a kind of belt. Most of the swords were decorated differently in their appearance. From around the Azuchi Momoyama period (1568 to 1603) it became customary to design the katana and wakizashi in the same way and to have the pair of swords made by a single blacksmith. In the Edo period (1603 to 1867) the daisho became the symbol of the samurai.

The Daishō was never let out of sight by its owner. Even at night the swords were always close to their owner. On the one hand, the owner was always ready to defend, on the other hand, the loss of the Daishō also meant a great loss of honor; the owner may have been forced to commit seppuku (suicide).


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  • Don A. Cunningham: Taiho-jutsu: Law and Order in the Age of the Samurai . Illustrated edition. Tuttle Publishing, Boston MA 2004, ISBN 0-8048-3536-5 .
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