-- Tachi
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Time Period: 8th-16th century
Location: Japan
Common Construction: Steel
The tachi is a Japanese sword that is the precursor to the katana. It is generally longer than the katana and has greater curvature, and is ideally suited for fighting from horseback.

In 1645 the government regulated the acceptable length of swords, shortening the legal size and forbidding non-samurai to have them unless special permission was given. This gave tachi a definitive length measured in shaku. A tanto was less than 1 shaku, a wakizashi between 1 and 2 shaku, and a katana or tachi 2 shaku or greater. When Japane converted to the metric system, they changed the shaku to be roughly 30cm, so a tachi is a sword over 60cm long. Many existing tachi that were over the legal size were cut down to around 70cm in order to obey the law.

The word tachi (like the word katana) means sword, and it can be difficult to differentiate between the two, especially during the transitional Muromachi period. The easiest way to determine whether a sword is a tachi or a katana is to look at the sword's mei, or signature. Tachi are hung from the belt with the blade facing down, while katana are thrust through the belt with the blade facing up. The signature is always made on the side of the blade facing the outside, so the mei of a tachi is on the opposite side of where it would be on a katana.

CE 08th Century, CE 09th Century, CE 10th Century, CE 11th Century, CE 12th Century, CE 13th Century, CE 14th Century, CE 15th Century, CE 16th Century, History, Japan, Sword, Weapon

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