Description A rather unusual Vi
Base 9.5 mm
Middle 4 mm
Peak at tip 3 mm
Base 40 mm
Middle 60 mm
Widest at tip 92 mm
7 cm from guard
Iron, steel, wood
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A large handled Vietnamese falchion called trường đao (長刀) or literally "long sword". It is somewhat similar to the Chinese dadao (大刀). The Vietnamese variety of this weapon, like this example, usually has a more dramatic flaring from very narrow to rather wide near the tip. The long ring-pommeled handle is bound in rattan, another common practice on the Vietnamese variety of this weapon.
The blade is forged with an inserted high-carbon edge plate exposed from a forge folded iron and steel body, to make a hard cutting edge in a more resilient blade. The left side of the blade has a peculiar feature: eight square-ish elements are seen on that side of the blade. The effect seems very deliberately done.
The small iron guard is of a four lobed shape that is inspired on Japanese sword guards. The Japanese call this shape mokko-gata. This peculiar feature on an otherwise purely mainland Asian weapon is a remnant of strong Japanese influence on Vietnamese arms manufacture in the 17th century, when Japanese refugees -among which many samurai- fled Japan and started a new life in Vietnam. They formed Japanese communities called nihonmachi and worked as translators, traders and mercenaries. Their presence would leave a mark on Vietnamese arms manufacture which was most profound in the 17th century, when Vietnamese copies of Japanese arms were made, but remnants of such design features are still found on weapons of otherwise purely local form in the 19th century.
Often described as execution swords, granted, there are several late 19th century photos that show such swords used in executions in Tonkin. That said, the variety of size and the fact that some come in pairs suggest they were primarily fighting swords like Chinese dadao, and happened to have also been used for executions. This exceptionally long handled variety was probably primarily used in formation fighting alongside spearmen and shield troops.
Excellent condition throughout, no damage, no repairs. See photos.
Everything is tight, no movement.
A large Vietnamese trường đao with an interesting blade with forged squares in the steel on the left side. It is of very good quality for this type of weapon, and they are rarely found in a condition as good as this.
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Broad bladed example with horn hilt and engraved blade.
Inspired by uchigatana brought into Vietnam by Japanese refugees who settled along the coast.
Collected by a Russian prince from the hill peoples of central Vietnam in 1892.
A what? Yes exactly. An extremely rare piece, the only example I am aware of in published collections at…
With an inscription alluding to it having belonged to the son of Tipu Sultan.