Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
"(though in this case those characteristics are strictly limitted to shortness, width, and decoration level, all of which seem to me rather nebulous and perhaps irrelevant)"
Tom, by this definition a screwdriver, a chisel, and silver chased table knife would all be of the same classification. They all have a one-hand handle, and a blade, however it is the variance of the design (length, width, decoration) for its intended purpose that put these in different catagories.
As for the quality aspect I'm not saying that the dual use utilitarian blades are of less quality some I'm sure are not, but as a generalization in this area of the world swords made for people of rank or status get more attention to detail. Whether I agree with the stratification or not it is a fact of life.