|Katana photo: Pixabay.com|
Not to worry—there are no spoilers here.
Book 2 of the Geomancer's Apprentice series features five kinds of swords. One of them is Junie Soong’s weapon, which was introduced in the first book.
The other swords are the wushu jian, the katana, the wakizashi, and the tanto. Curious as to why there are Japanese swords in a fantasy steeped in Chinese myths and magic?
Well, I guess you'll have to read the book.
Junie’s sword is known as the Energy Devourer. It’s made from the wood of a peach tree cut from the Shen Ting Mountains’ sacred groves.
The Energy Devourer is roughly based on the peach wood swords used by Taoist priests in exorcism rituals. Taoism, or Daoism, is an ancient Chinese philosophy and religion that emphasizes living in harmony with “the path,” that is, the natural order.
Peach wood has a special place in Chinese mythology. According to one Chinese legend, there was a giant peach tree on Dushuo Mountain whose branches formed an arch through which evil spirits could enter the human world. The Emperor of Heaven assigned two brothers to guard the portal. If the spirits did harm, the brothers captured them and fed them to the tigers that roamed the base of the mountain.
The ancient Chinese venerated the brothers as Door Gods. Their images were carved on peach wood and hung at entrances and doorways to keep evil out.
The Chinese word for peach also sounds like “flee,” or “run away.” Peach wood was used to make charms in the shape of swords, arrows, and other objects, in the belief the wood could drive away evil.
Today, modern Taoist priests still use peach wood swords to dispel evil spirits and influences.
“Wushu” is the term for Chinese martial arts. The “jians” used in wushu training and competitions are long, narrow and straight. The metal blades are flexible and double-edged. They are designed to make a sound when shaken. A tassel is attached to their pommels for visual appeal.
The katana is a single-edged, curved Japanese long sword. It is about 2 to 2.5 feet long with a hilt that can be held in both hands. Historians believe the katana was invented during Japan’s Kamakura Period (1185 to 1333) when a better sword was needed to fight off invading Mongol forces.
Samurai warriors carried the sword with the cutting edge facing upward. Today, the katana is one of the most iconic swords in the world.
The wakizashi is another traditional Japanese sword. Like the katana, it has a curved, single-edged blade. However, it is shorter than a katana, with a blade that is about 1 to 2 feet long. The sword has been around since the 15th or 16th century. It was a backup sword that also was used for close-quarters fighting or to behead the enemy.
|Tanto photo: Pixabay.com|
The tanto is yet another traditional Japanese sword that was mostly carried by samurai. The sword dates back to Japan’s Heian Period (794 to 1185). Its blade is about six to 12 inches long and can be single- or double-edged. It is primarily used as a knife for stabbing or slashing.