It has a narrow but sturdy blade with a springy temper.
Base 4 mm
Middle 3 mm
Near tip 2.5 mm
Wide part at base 59.5 mm
Middle 62 mm
Near tip 29 mm
17 cm from guard
Iron, steel, wood
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A rather unusual Vietnamese falchion, by lack of a better name for the type. It has a large blade with a narrow base that quickly widens and stays wide most of the length until narrowing into a sharp point. The blade features a very unusual type of forging, with steels standing out in high contrast that form a pattern that closely resembles the skin of a melon. The forging is very tight, with no flaws to speak of, and the pattern looks rather controlled and deliberate.
The blade features rather abstract engravings that hold the middle between fish and serpent forms, that are worthy of further study and may give the item more context. They may be unusually stylized Naga, or Vietnamese dragon of which the Vietnamese claim descent.
The handle is of a dense wood with a deep, dark patina. The pommel is an iron plate. There is a long iron ferrule to keep the guard in place. The guard has a grooved rim, which is repeated on the ferrule. Handle and guard are tight with no movement.
Tell-tale features of Vietnamese manufacture are in the design of handle and guard, and the characteristic chiseled engravings on the blade, although usually these are floral in nature on typical Vietnamese work. The widening at the base of the blade is a feature commonly seen on north Vietnamese and south Chinese arms. All in all, we can probably conclude that the piece is probably made in north Vietnam in a region that knew strong Chinese influence.
It has good weight in the hand and due to smart tapering in thickness providing a lively balance that one wouldn't expect from just looking at its profile. In handling it is comparable to a good quality Chinese niuweidao. It also serves a similar function: The width of the blade puts lots of weight behind a thin edge, which is ideal for cutting soft unarmored targets. It has one cut into the left side, probably from another weapon.
Good condition overall. One small cut to the blade, which is period damage possible from a fight.
Some scratches in the etch that are easily amended if needed.
A very unusual falchion like fighting sword from northern Vietnam. It is unusual in shape, in decoration, and in the way the blade is constructed. This is the only one of its type I have seen so far and I think it is possibly unique.
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An outstanding example with very fine silver and moth-of-pearl work.
Modeled after the Chinese "guan dao", made of lacquered wood.
Called sung hoả mai in Vietnamese, they are based on the Indo-Portuguese system. This example has a baitong…
Constructed out of dense hardwood and with fine mother-of-pearl inlays in the Vietnamese fashion.
Collected by American anthropologist Melvyn Goldstein in the 1980s.