Language: Vietnamese
Source: Old dictionary


Thanh gươm () appears in an 1887 French-Tonkinese dictionary where it is translated as "grand sabre de cortège" or "large processional saber".


The 1887 dictionary entry of thanh gươm.

The character used, , means a double edged straightsword in Chinese. In Vietnamese, it can be pronounced both as kiếm, denoting the straightsword, or gươm for saber. The character  is also used for saber and pronounced gươm.

Vietnamese ceremonial sabers

During the Nguyễn dynasty (1802 - 1945) such sabers were carried by men of rank and their retainers as a symbol of their rank and office.

These weapons typically have silver mounts, only the emperor could have gilt mounts on his sword. They are often nicely made with grips made of ivory, or other precious materials and scabbards decorated with fine moth-of-pearl inlays. The blades are often purely ceremonial, but pieces with functional blades are encountered from time to time.

Ceremonial guom

A fine Vietnamese ceremonial saber, or thanh gươm.

1. Gaston Khan, Élève diplômé de l'École des langues orientales; Vocabulaire Franco - Tonkinois. Hanoi, 1887. Page 25.

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An outstanding example with very fine silver and moth-of-pearl work.


It has a narrow but sturdy blade with a springy temper.


With carved stone handles and superb workmanship in silver and mother-of-pearl.


Modeled after the Chinese "guan dao", made of lacquered wood.


Based on the Dutch Beaumont mechanism, but with Indonesian twist forged barrel and golden inlays.


Called sung hoả mai in Vietnamese, they are based on the Indo-Portuguese system. This example has a baitong lock.

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