Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Unusual Chinese knife / Dao

Over the years, I’ve seen a remarkable variety of different blade shapes,  but this one is really quite unusual for a Chinese knife.

Chinese Dao

overall length                   755mm
blade length                     615mm
grip length                       140mm
weight                             1088gr
p.o.b                               180mm

The blade is 5mm thick at the forte, tapering to 2.5mm at the tip, and is sharp along the full length of the bottom edge.

In contrast to the blade, the handle is typically Chinese in style and construction.

Brass coin motif and lanyard hole

The wooden grip scales are made from a kind of dense hardwood frequently used for Chinese sword handles. They have been attached to the tang using 4 brass rivets. The handle also has a brass coin motif through it and a brass lined lanyard hole. 


The tang is quite thin and the grip has strips of steel riveted between the wooden scales and the tang, perhaps to increase rigidity. 

Riveted copper discs

Instead of having a guard, the front faces of the grip scales are covered by copper discs. These are held in place by two copper rivets passing through the blade.

The front face of the above wooden scale is cut at quite a different angle from the one on the other side of the grip. No real attempt has been made to fashion a symmetrical handle. The crude nature of this workmanship is quite normal for such functional weaponry. 

Brass end cap

The end cap and lozenge-shaped washer are both brass, and are peened to the end of the tang.

Overall, it is moderately heavy and forward weighted. Quite comfortable to hold but one would require a reasonable strength to wield it accurately and effectively. 

It is very likely that this knife was made using a recycled blade, perhaps from a pole arm, or maybe from a farming implement. Quite unusual though, never seen a Chinese blade of this shape before…….so,  does anyone have any ideas where this blade/shape might have originated from?

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