The Tanto is mostly referred to as a short knife and the blade is either single or double edged. The edge could of been used for cutting Shōji doors or silent killing of sentries. Tantō are molded without a ridge line, meaning that the sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the structure of a Katana. Traditional Tantō had cross-sections which one could use for armor-piercing.
The wakizashi may have become more popular than the tantō due to the wakizashi being more suited for indoor fighting.
Fan Tanto Edit
Fans were customary items around the Japanese court, so they also provided an ideal disguise for a self-defense weapon. The fan slats are actually a solid scabbard, holding a single-edged steel dagger. The hilt of the dagger is formed by the ridges of the fake fan slats. The loop at the end acted as a fastening to secure the blade in the scabbard.
Types of Tantō Edit
- Shinogi: This is the most common type of blade geometry for long swords, but tantō made in this form are very rare, mostly forged from cut-down blades when a longer sword has been broken. Shinogi means the central ridge that runs along the length of the blade between the edge bevels and the body of the blade.
- Hira: A very common tantō form with no shinogi, the edge bevels reaching all the way from the edge (ha) to the back (mune) with no separate flats in between, creating an almost triangular cross-section. The back is ridged, as on most other blade forms, so the cross-section is actually an extremely asymmetrical diamond shape; on shinogi zukuri blades it is hexagonal. It is extremely common due to the simplicity of its design.