Language: Mandarin Chinese
Source: Classical literature


Dāo shàng xiù (刀上鏥) literally means "saber surface [is] rusty".

Because the term turned up in a section describing the yāodāo (腰刀), I chose to translate dāo as saber in this case. Logically speaking, dāo shàng xiù could of course be applied to describe a rusty surface on any other kind of dāo.

Rusty saber
A rusty Chinese saber. It was found in a barn in Belgium, neglected for many years.

Close up of rustClose-up of the rusty blade.

Looking at rust...

Antique steel is not very homogenous in composition so it will always rust fairly irregularly like seen above. Always be wary when the rust on a supposed antique is too uniform. Also, bright red rust is recently formed and often a red flag. It is either a sign of very recent neglect, or worse, deliberately induced rust.

Getting rid of rust

First aid on a sword with newly formed rust: Rub the blade with the finest grade steel wool to get rid of the red particles. Usually, a dark brown or black stain is left. Oil the blade with magnolia or mineral oil to prevent further rusting.

Once the superficial rust is gone we can asses the quality and condition of the blade underneath. If it is a precious blade, you may want to have it polished or at least more thoroughly cleaned.

Do you have an old rusty sword? See Philip Tom's restoration page.

Do you have anything for sale?

I might be interested in buying it.

Contact me

Built around a beautifully forged blade, in full polish, revealing a burl grain pattern.


A fine Chinese straightsword blade, of typical Qing form with a rather wide profile.


A rather well-made example of its type.


Used to move imperial orders from the emperor’s quarters to the recipient.

Price on request

Made of heavy silk with gilt copper alloy mounts.


With broad silver-clad scabbard, worked entirely in repousse.

A saber glossary in Manchu
An overview of Manchu saber terminology.
Read the article
Markings on Chinese swords
Most markings are found on military edged weapons, usually in the f...
Read the article
Measurements of an Ottoman bow
Signatures on the bow indicate that it was probably made in 1849 an...
Read the article
Measurements of a Manchu bow
Made in the famous Changxing workshop in Chengdu, which as the subj...
Read the article