Hudiedao - A set of buttefly swords [SOLD] | Mandarin Mansion

Hudiedao - A set of buttefly swords [SOLD]

Overall length: 56,4 cm
Blade length: 42,7 cm
Blade thickness @ base, mid, near tip: 7,5, 6, 6 mm
Blade width@ base, mid, near tip: 35, 33,5, 29 mm
Weight total: 1337 grams
Weight individually: 648 grams (right) and 624 grams (left).

Hudiedao is Chinese for "butterfly knives, a name given to these blades as a reference to their use, its style resembling the flapping wings of a butterfly. An alternative name frequently used in the South where they probably originated is bazhandao in Mandarin or baat jaam do in Cantonese. They are usually encountered in sets of two with hilts of flattened cross-section so they neatly git into one scabbard together. The scabbard in turn was worn through belt or sash. Some large versions were used single, and in conjunction with shields but in this case were referred to as paidao instead. The typical d-shaped knuckle bow is not native to China and was probably inspired on the hilts of Western naval swords encountered in the Southern Chinese harbors of Hongkong and Canton in the 19th century. Despite claims of martial arts schools teaching "ancient" traditions, no antique hudiedao or references to them exist from before about the mid nineteenth-century. Historically, such knives were used by security guards, militia, thugs, and even some branches of the late 19th century southern Chinese military. Hudiedao remained in use among rivaling triad gangs in Chinatowns all over the world, mainly San Francisco, up to at least the 1930's.

Hudiedao come in two varieties, a long slender thrusting variety with thick blades of wedge shaped cross-section and a wider, cutting variety with relatively broad and thin blades like the set presented here. While the long and slender variety is more commonly encountered among antiques, it is the broad variety whose use has survived in Southern Chinese martial arts schools today. The blades with unusually active pattern do not have an inserted hardened edge but rather a forge folded body that seems to be given a heat treatment using clay to create an effect called hamon on Japanese swords with a clear distinction between nie and nioi crystals formed in the steel. Being typical for the construction of Ming dynasty jian, the construction became less common in the 18th century -and even then only used on some officer's sabers- and is highly unusual on any weapons from the 19th century, especially of this type.

While most come with brass or bronze D-shaped guards, this set comes with well crafted steel guards. The handles are wrapped with green cotton cord and it comes with a simple leather pigskin scabbard with cutouts of coins representing good fortune.

Blade polished and etched by Philip Tom, otherwise in original "as found" condition.