Author Topic: Broad Sword (Dao 刀)  (Read 897 times)

Blade~

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Broad Sword (Dao 刀)
« on: March 25, 2017, 05:50:20 pm »
While dao have varied greatly over the centuries, most single-handed dao of the Ming period and later, and the modern swords that are based on them share a number of characteristics. Dao blades are moderately curved and single-edged, though often with a few inches of the back edge sharpened as well; the moderate curve allows them to be reasonably effective in the thrust. Hilts are sometimes canted, curving in the opposite direction as the blade which improves handling in some forms of cuts and thrusts. Cord is usually wrapped over the wood of the handle. Hilts may also be pierced like those of jian (straight-bladed Chinese sword) for the addition of lanyards, though modern swords for performances will often have tassels or scarves instead. Guards are typically disc-shaped often with a cupped shape to prevent rainwater from getting into the sheath, and to prevent blood from dripping down to the handle, making it more difficult to grip. Sometimes guards are thinner pieces of metal with an s-curve, the lower limb of the curve protecting the user's knuckles; very rarely they may have guards like those of the jian.

Other variations to the basic pattern include the large bagua dao and the long handled pudao.

The earliest dao date from the Shang Dynasty in China's Bronze Age, and are known as zhibeidao (直背刀) – straight backed knives. As the name implies, these were straight-bladed or slightly curved weapons with a single edge. Originally bronze, these weapons were made of iron or steel by the time of the late Warring States period as metallurgical knowledge became sufficiently advanced to control the carbon content. Originally less common as a military weapon than the jian – the straight, double-edged blade of China – the dao became popular with cavalry during the Han dynasty due to its sturdiness, superiority as a chopping weapon, and relative ease of use – it was generally said that it takes a week to attain competence with a dao/saber, a month to attain competence with a qiang/spear, and a year to attain competence with a jian/straight sword. Soon after dao began to be issued to infantry, beginning the replacement of the jian as a standard-issue weapon. Late Han dynasty dao had round grips and ring-shaped pommels, and ranged between 85 and 114 centimeters in length. These weapons were used alongside rectangular shields.

By the end of the Three Kingdoms period, the single-edged dao had almost completely replaced the jian on the battlefield. The jian henceforth became known as a weapon of self-defense for the scholarly aristocratic class, worn as part of court dress.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2017, 05:55:54 pm by Blade~ »
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