World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Ōdachi

Article Id: WHEBN0000860222
Reproduction Date:

Title: Ōdachi  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Japanese sword, Chinese swords, Katana, Tachi, Yoroidōshi
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Ōdachi

A Japanese Edo period wood block print of a samurai carrying a nodachi/ōdachi on his back

An ōdachi (大太刀) (large/great sword) was a type of long traditionally made Japanese sword (nihonto)[1][2] used by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The term nodachi (野太刀, field sword) refers to the same type of sword.[3][4][5]

The character for ō (大) means "big" or "great".[6] The dachi here (太刀) is the same as tachi (太刀, lit. "great sword"), the older style of sword/mounts that predate the katana. The chi is also the same character as katana (刀) and the in nihontō (日本刀 "Japanese sword"), originally from the Chinese character for a blade,[7] dāo.[8]

To qualify as an ōdachi, the sword in question would have a blade length of around 3 shaku (35.79 inches or 90.91 cm); however, as with most terms in Japanese sword arts, there is no exact definition of the size of an ōdachi.

Purpose

Practically speaking, the function/use of most ōdachi fall into the first two categories—as ceremonial objects and cavalry swords. The possible functions of the ōdachi can be categorized as follows:

  • As a votive offering to a shrine (or specifically to its patron gods). Some ōdachi were used in prayer before a war, while others were displayed (sometimes in temples)—reputedly as legendary swords from mythology.
  • The average length of an ōdachi is 65–70 inches long (approx 165–178 cm), often with a 4–5 foot (approx 120–150 cm) blade. This made them unsuitable for close-quarters combat. Instead, they are commonly believed to have been used by fighters on horseback, as the blade length would allow them to take down infantry (without risk of being pulled off their mount).
  • Like other trends, ōdachi were often in vogue, most notably during the Edo Period, so it was not uncommon to see the swords used in various ceremonies.

Production

Nodachi/ōdachi koshirae

Ōdachi are difficult to produce because their length makes heat treatment in a traditional way more complicated: The longer a blade is, the more difficult (or expensive) it is to heat the whole blade to a homogenous temperature, both for annealing and to reach the hardening temperature. The quenching process then needs a bigger quenching medium because uneven quenching might lead to warping the blade.

The method of polishing is also different. Because of their size, Ōdachi are usually hung from the ceiling or placed in a stationary position to be polished, unlike normal swords which are moved over polishing stones.

Acquiring a fully sharpened Ōdachi would be hard as they would almost certainly have to be custom-made.

Method of use

Edo period wood block print showing an ōdachi/nodachi being worn on the back of a samurai.

Ōdachi that were used as weapons were too long for samurai to carry on their waists like normal swords. There were two methods in which they could be carried: One method was to carry it on one's back. However, this was seen as impractical as it was impossible for the wielder to draw it quickly. The other method was simply to carry the ōdachi by hand. The trend during the Muromachi era was for the samurai carrying the ōdachi to have a follower to help draw it.

Ōdachi swordplay styles focused on downward cuts and different wields than those of normal swords.

Reasons for loss of popularity

The ōdachi's importance died off after the Siege of Osaka of 1615 (the final battle between Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyori). Since then, it has been used more as a ceremonial piece.

This loss of popularity is due to the Bakufu government setting a law which prohibited holding swords above a set length (in Genna 3 (1617), Kan'ei 3 (1626) and Shōhō 2 (1645)). After the law was put into practice, ōdachi were cut down to the shorter legal size. This is one of the reasons why ōdachi are so rare. Ōdachi were no longer of practical use, but were still made as offerings to Shinto shrines. This became their main purpose. Due to the amount of skill required to make one, it was considered that their exotic appearance was suitable for praying to the gods.

See also

References

  1. ^ , Author Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani, Publisher Peter Lang, 2008, ISBN 3039117114, 9783039117116 P.150The Development of Controversies: From the Early Modern Period to Online Discussion Forums, Volume 91 of Linguistic Insights. Studies in Language and Communication
  2. ^ , Authors Evans Lansing Smith, Nathan Robert Brown, Publisher Penguin, 2008, ISBN 1592577644, 9781592577644 P.144The Complete Idiot's Guide to World Mythology, Complete Idiot's Guides
  3. ^ , Serge Mol, Kodansha International, Jun 17, 2003 P.17Classical weaponry of Japan: special weapons and tactics of the martial arts
  4. ^ , Fumon Tanaka, Kodansha International, Jun 16, 2003 p.12Samurai fighting arts: the spirit and the practice
  5. ^ State of war: the violent order of fourteenth-century Japan, Thomas Conlan, Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 2003 P.260
  6. ^ http://en.wiktionary.org/articles/大
  7. ^ http://en.wiktionary.org/articles/太
  8. ^ http://en.wiktionary.org/articles/刀

External links

  • Nihonto message board forum
  • Richard Stein's Japanese sword guide
  • Pictures of some blades
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.