A special dadao | Mandarin Mansion

A special dadao


Overall length: 86.8 cm / 34.2 inch
Blade length: 53.9 cm / 21.3 inch
Thickness: forte 7 mm, middle 6 mm, widest part 3.5 mm
Blade width: forte 46.5 mm, widest part 70 mm.
Weight: 1240 grams

The iconic dadao (大刀) was the preferred close-quarters combat weapon of post-Imperial China. Dadao gained fame in the hands of certain Big Knife Units dadaohui (大刀會), in particular the 29th army, specializing in close quarters combat.

The idea behind the dadao is to make the cutting edge thin for low-resistance on the cut, while keeping the blade heavy enough for considerable cutting power. To do this, they made the blade flat but wide, with the maximum width being behind that part of the edge that was ideally used for the cut. This flaring out gave the dadao its very characteristic shape. Designed for cutting through soft targets, it was an ideal setup in the age of modern firearms where soldiers wore minimum protection.

Presented here is a high-end Chinese military dadao (大刀) in near-perfect condition. Where many were made with utilitarian finish, this example comes with a thick, well-ground blade with very precisely cut grooves. The obvious quality is also apparent from the geometry of the S-shaped guard, which is not only purely functional but even pleasing to the eyes with the gradual flaring out of the quillons and the two apexes on the left and right sides of the guard plate.

Such dadao were not just for the soldiers, but apparently made for higher ranking officers and even generals. Compare this example, and especially the construction of the S-shaped guard, with the dadao of Ji Xingwen. Ji Xingwen (吉星文) was a famous Major-General of the Republican army, who was active from 1937 until he was killed in action on Kinmen island in 1958. He served as commanding officer of the 219th regiment, 37th Division, 29th Army during the famous Marco Polo Bridge Incident where Chinese soldiers armed with dadao repelled the Japanese despite heavy losses. Dadao that can positively be attributed to the 29th army have gone for upwards of €8.000 on Chinese auctions. Unfortunately this example -although identical to that carried by the 29th army's commander- is unmarked so we will never know who exactly carried it.

Soldiers of the 29th army with their dadao. Note how the guards of the soldiers have upward curled quillons, much like this example that was sold by us in the past. Compare to Ji Xingwen's sword at the end of this page.

Below:The actual dadao that was used by Ji Xingwen at the Marco Polo incident. ROC Museum, Taiwan. Note the remarkable similarities with the example we have here.

If you want a good representative example of a hard to find high quality dadao that is probably made for an officer, that is in good, untouched condition, this is your rare opportunity.


Interested? Questions?
Contact peter@mandarinmansion.com

*A new grip wrap by Peter Dekker with cotton cord of authentic colors and braid, wrapped in the traditional method, aged to match the weapons's overall antique appearance. For examples of Peter's wrapping, see our grip wrapping page.