The Green Standard Army Zhanmadao was a large two-handed saber of the Qing dynasty.

It was issued to troops of the Green Standard Army, a large force of some 700.000 soldiers spread mostly over small garrisons throughout the empire. The Green Standard Army primarily had an internal peacekeeping function but they would at times support the elite Eight Banners troops on campaigns. Their weapons and tactics were for a large part inherited from the Ming, including their use of long sabers.

In Qing dynasty regulations

It was listed in the Huangchao Liqi Tushi of 1766 as follows:1

Zhanmadao in the Huangchao Liqi Tushi

"According to: Wang Yinglin’s JADE OCEAN:2
“In the 5th year of Xining, the workshops made zhanmadao that were about 3 chi long and that had ring pommels. When the tortoise pattern stands out on its surface, it indicates excellent manufacture. It is easy to use in parrying, it is a good tool for war.3

"The regulations of our dynasty:

Made of forged iron [as to produce steel], it is shaped like a peidao.

Overall 4 chi 8 cun long.

The blade is 3 chi 4 cun. It is 1 cun 5 fen wide.

It has an iron disc guard that is 2 fen thick.

The handle is 1 chi 3 cun 8 fen and made of wood, wrapped with red and yellow leather.

It has an iron pommel and a blue lanyard.

Scabbard 3 chi 5 cun, wooden handle wrapped with leather, lacquered vermillion. Iron fittings."

(The length converts to approximately 168 cm / 66 inch.)

Further detail is provided by the Gōngbù jūnqì zélì (工部軍器則例) or "Regulations and Precedents on Military Equipment for the Board of Works" of 1812: 

Construction of the zhanmadao:

Every zhanmadao is 4 chi 8 cun long. (approx 168 cm)

The blade inside is 3 chi 4 cun long. (approx 119 cm)

Inserted steel edge, forge folded [body].

Both sides are polished to make the lines appear.

Wooden handle is tied with braided leather strips.

Wooden scabbard is covered with leather and lacquered.

Mounts of fire lacquered iron complete the manufacture.

Blade is 3 chi 4 cun long. (approx 119 cm)

1 cun 5 fen wide. (approx 5.25 cm)

Back is 3 fen thick. (approx 10.5 mm)

Tang is 1 chi 3 cun 5 fen long. (approx 47.25 cm)

Wide 5 fen. (approx 17.5 mm)

2 fen thick. (approx 7 mm)

It weighs 4 jin 5 liang 3 qian. (approx 2585 grams)


Long sabers of the Qing dynasty

Chinese long sabers of the Qing dynastyClick to enlarge


1. Huangchao Liqi Tushi (皇朝禮器圖式) or "Illustrated Regulations on the Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Present Dynasty". An imperially commissioned text that was published in 1766 based on a 1759 manuscript.
2. Jade Ocean was compiled in 1252 as a manual for preparing for the great state examinations. It was published in 1337.
3. The 5th year of Xining corresponds to the year 1073, at the time of the Northern Song dynasty. The Song military was in constant war with the mounted Jurchen armies of the Jin dynasty, creating the necessity for specific anti-horse weaponry. The Jurchen were the ancestors of the Manchu, rulers of the Qing dynasty. Justin Ma helped to translate the archaic language of the Song passage.
4. Gōngbù jūnqì zélì (工部軍器則例) or "Regulations and Precedents on Military Equipment for the Board of Works" of 1812. A massive set of regulations covering the finer details of manufacture, including materials used, craftsmen employed, and time spent.

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With a golden damascened lock of the Indo-Portuguese type.


Very good example with a finely carved warrior scene.


Probably of Southern origin, with a straight blade and flaring tip.


In the style of northern work of the 16th and 17th centuries


These mysterious weapons were already obsolete when the first ethnographers encountered them.


Using a possibly captured M1898 "klewang" blade.