execution sword

Steel single-edged sword, da dao, with a long wooden grip, ovoid in cross-section, bound with orange braided silk cords and surmounted by a metal ring pommel covered with red cotton. The lower grip is of brass engraved with a chrysanthemum design. The guard is a rhombic brass plate with two bars curving in opposite directions; both bars have ball-ends engraved with chrysanthemum motifs. The curved steel blade has two grooves on each side for stiffening the blade. On the upper blade four Chinese characters, 'chu bao an liang', are inscribed on one side, while vases or antique objects are engraved on the other.

Swords of this type with curved blades were in China called 'da dao', which translates as 'big knife'. They were intended for cutting. These swords were widely used by the infantry but were often misinterpreted by westerners as being solely for execution. However this particular sword has the inscription 'chu bao an liang' on the blade, meaning 'eliminate violence, maintain goodness', which suggests that it could possibly have been used for execution. See p. 284, Zhou Wei (1957), 'Zhongguo bing qi shi gao', Beijing.

Collection Information

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