A good dadao
This item has been sold.
Overall length

92.5 cm / 36.4 inch

Blade length

62.7 / 24.7 inch

Blade thickness

forte 11.5mm

middle 7mm

at widest point at tip 4.5mm

Blade width

forte 36 mm

middle 42 mm

at widest point at tip 51.5 mm


1257 grams


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The dadao is the iconic weapon of republican China. It's most famed use was perhaps the "Marco Polo incident" where 100 men of the Goumingtang 29th route Army, armed with rifles and dadao, managed to resist a larger Japanese force but against heavy casualties on the Chinese side. They were also the standard close quarter's weapon of Mao's communist forces who ultimately conquered China and founded the People's Republic of China.

Although we mostly know the weapon from the 20th century, the general shape has much earlier origins. Presented here what appears to be a 19th-century predecessor of the famed republican dadao.


The quality blade is thick, heavy, and well-balanced. Overall blade shape reminds strongly of a niuweidao or oxtail-saber, with a narrow base and a widening tip section. It differs from the niuweidao in that the blade is a lot straighter, and due to its size and thickness it has the weigh and feel of a typical dadao.

Blade surface with two grooves, a wide and narrow one on the dorsal side. The wider fuller begins at the forte with a crescent-moon shaped engraving and fades into the tip. The back of the blade is ridged from about where the fullers start. These are again features we commonly see on some of the better niuweidao. Forte of the blade is chiseled with a dragon chasing a flaming ball, often referred to as the pearl of wisdom. The quality of the chiseling is quite fine for this type of weapon.

Blade without damage, no nicks, cracks, chips. Tight forging throughout. In its current condition it shows hints of a forge folded construction with a fairly active pattern and inserted high-carbon edge plate. It is well-made throughout with flat bevels and clearly defined features, instead of the usual lumpiness encountered on the vast majority of dadao on the market.

The guard is made of a simple piece of thick sheet iron, curled up on both sides to create the a "ramshorn" profile. The long handle with thick ring pommel retains its original wrap with indigo dyed cord. Over time, wear and yellow staining made most of the blue cord look green today. There is some play in the old handle due to deforming of the wood over time.


An unusual dadao that shares some design features with the niuweidao. Blade shows good quality in execution for this type of weapon, with attention to detail like a partially ridged cross-section, precisely cut grooves, flat polished surfaces and detailed engravings at the forte.

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


With markings attributing it to the Tongzhou incident and a Japanese surrender tag.


Of classic shape, with a leaf-shaped blade on a socket, connected by a cast bronze base.


A standard pattern Qing military saber, but with the rare addition of a label in Manchu.


A simple utilitarian weapon, probably made for rural martial artists or militia.


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