Indo-Chinese fighting dagger
Overall length

30.7 cm

Blade length

20.8 cm

Blade thickness

Base 7.5 mm

Middle 6 mm

Near tip 3 mm

Blade width

Base 30 mm

Middle 27 mm

Near tip 12 mm

Weight without scabbard

233 grams

Point of balance

28 mm from guard


Iron, steel, brass, bone, pig leather.


North Vietnam or Yunnan




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Several variations of fighting knives like this with pigskin scabbards were in use all over southern China. Some of the most famous types aong collectors and martial artists are the húdiédāo (蝴蝶刀) that still remain in use in Southern martial arts.

Among antiques, we also frequently encounter a smaller type dagger, usually carried along in its scabbard althugh double variations of this knife are also known.


This example

A fighting knife with thick, single-edge blade that tapers to a sharp point. It has a small hexagonal guard with filed and drilled decoration. Two long ferrules hold the bone grip. The pommel is shaped and decorated much like the guard.

In many ways this seems like a typical example of a Chinese fighting knife. But subtleties in its manufacture point towards northern Vietnam instead. It is mainly in the profile of the blade that reminds strongly of Vietnamese and Khmer pole-arms. Also the type of decoration done on guard and pommel is more typical for Yunnanese ethnic minorities and people of Vietnam than they are for Chinese work. Chinese examples tend to have more angular profiled blades, and often mounts that remain undecorated.

In "as found" condition, still very sharp. blade in near excellent condition. Comes with its original pigskin scabbard.


Dating and attribution

Many of these knives turn up in France, some with provenance to French troops serving in Indochina in the late 19th century. Some were said to be taken from the Black Flags after battles like the Siege of Tuyên Quang in 1884-1885. The Black flags were mostly composed of people from the Zhuang ethnic minority.

Indo-Chinese fighting dagger
Indo-Chinese fighting dagger
Indo-Chinese fighting dagger
Indo-Chinese fighting dagger
Indo-Chinese fighting dagger
Indo-Chinese fighting dagger
Indo-Chinese fighting dagger

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From approximately the 5th to 3rd century B.C.


With designs of four dragons in scrollwork around a "wish-granting-jewel"


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


A purely Chinese guard and not a very orn


Most likely used by the multi-cultural crews of pirate fleets that roamed the South China seas.


With heavy pierced silver mounts in with archaic dragon designs.

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