A southern dao
Overall length

83.5 cm

Blade length

66.8 cm

Blade thickness

Base 7 mm (just ahead of collar)

Middle 6 mm

Start backedge 5 mm

5 cm from tip 3.5 mm

Blade thickness

Base 34 mm (just ahead of collar)

Middle 30 mm

Start backedge 27 mm

5 cm from tip 16 mm

Weight

632 grams

Point of balance

18 cm from guard

Origin

Southern China, probably Guangzhou (Canton).

Materials

Iron, steel, copper alloy, brass, wood, cotton.

Dating

Circa 1850 - 1880

Sold

Interested?
Anything similar for sale?

Contact me

Description

A southern Chinese military saber. The blade has the very slender form that is typical for these, something that appears to be a remnant of older Ming blade styles that endured longer in the south than anywhere else in China.

The blade is narrow in profile but rather thick on the spine, giving it very pleasant handling characteristics with more weight behind the cut than what one would expect from solely looking at the profile.

It has two narrow grooves and a very long back bevel that is semi-sharp near the tip to aid in thrusting. The blade is forge folded with an inserted high-carbon steel edge plate. This plate is exposed along the entire edge, and can be seen on some portions of the spine as well, showing it goes all the way through most of the blade. This steel core gives this narrow blade plenty of rigidity.

Inserted steel

Inserted steel edge plate seen at the spine of the blade.

 

Long backedge on Chinese saber

The long backedge removes weight at tip for better handling, and creates a double-edged point for the thrust.


At the base is a copper alloy collar piece or tūnkǒu, of a somewhat rounded form so typical for southern Chinese sabers.

The guard is a thin brass disc with thickened rim, executed plainly with no adornments. Ferrule and pommel follow en-suite, with the flattened tangerine shaped pommel that was common on Qing military swords of the second half of the 19th century. Original peening remains intact.

 

 

Restoration history

Blade in recent polish by Philip Tom, revealing its layered and laminated structure. Some chips in the blade were too deep to remove and had to stay. Guard and ferrule were fixated with some modern glue. I did a grip wrap in fine cotton cord over the original handle.

The piece had lost its scabbard, but luckiy Philip Tom still had an old scabbard lying around that was made for exactly this type of sword. The scabbard is antique and of the period, but instead of plain mounts there are engravings on the mounts with bats and longevity symbols. Scabbard is old but structurally sound. A crack is seen in the photos at the bottom half, now repaired by glueing.

 

Conclusion

A typical Chinese soldier's saber from southern China, probably from Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton. A few sabers with very similar blades have turned up with markings attributing them to Bannermen of the Hanjun. Those without markings were perhaps issued to the Green Standard Army.

 

A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber
A southern Chinese military saber

Do you have anything for sale?

I might be interested in buying it.

Contact me

A rather well-made example of its type.

€1500,-

A bronze processional piece with reign marks attributing it to the year 1864.

€2800,-

Such rings were worn by Qing dynasty "bannermen" as a sign of their status as a conquest elite.

€600,-

A Chinese sword guard from the 18th century with a Buddhist mantra in lantsa script.

€800,-

A very rare Chinese saber guard dating from the height of the Qing dynasty.

€1500,-

The wide blade with clipped tip mounted on a riveted wooden grip.

€2500,-