A fine Chinese straightsword blade, of typical Qing form with a rather wide profile.
64 cm / 25.2 inch
49 cm / 19.3 inch
Base 5 mm
Middle 3 mm
Near tip 2.5 mm
Base 49 mm at base
At spike 106 mm
China, Qing dynasty
Iron, steel, brass
Probably 19th century
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One of the most iconic of Chinese weapons, the yǎnyuèdāo (偃月刀) is commonly known as "Guandao" after the famous general Guan Yu, an actual historical figure that was deified as early as the Sui dynasty as a symbol of loyalty and righteousness. This term is only rarely found in historical references, and most military texts from Song to Qing refer to the weapon as yǎnyuèdāo (偃月刀), which is why I stick with this name as well.
Presented is a yanyuedao blade of classic shape: The wide blade dramatically sweeping backward, with scalloped backedge leading to the spike. A decorative ornament is still attached to the hole in the spike. The bade emerges from the mouth of a brass dragon, shaped with protruding eyes and ears. This is a representation of Yázì (睚眦), the most aggressive of the nine sons of the dragon of classical Chinese mythology.
The blade is pretty well-made, with signs of an inserted hardened edge plate. Some damage to the very tip, and a crack at the upper base of the spike. Design and construction of this example suggest it was not for practice or parade, but built as an actual fighting weapon. The damage here and there seems to indicate it has seen some active service.
A rare example of an actual Qing dynasty yanyuedao, with a blade made for service.
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A rather well-made example of its type.
Used to move imperial orders from the emperor’s quarters to the recipient.
Made of heavy silk with gilt copper alloy mounts.
With heavy pierced silver mounts in with archaic dragon designs.
Most likely used by the multi-cultural crews of pirate fleets that roamed the South China seas.