Glossary of Chinese saber terminology | Peter Dekker's Mandarin Mansion: Antique Arms & Armor

Glossary of Chinese saber terminology

The following list is an overview of Chinese saber terminology as found in two 18th century Chinese dictionaries. The saber shown in the picture is of classical angular style or fangshi, the common type of saber mountings used in the period these dictionaries were written.

# English Chinese Pinyin transliteration
(Waist-worn) saber 腰刀 yāodāo
1 Handle 刀把 dāobà
2 Pommel 刀把頂束 dāobà dǐngshù
3 Ferrule 刀把束 dāobà shù
4 Guard 刀護手 dāo hūshǒu
5 Collarpiece 刀吞口 dāo tūnkǒu
6 Groove 刀槽 dāo cáo
7 / 8 Blade / edge 刀刃 dāo rèn
9 Back of blade 刀背 dāo bèi
10 Point 刀鋒 dāo fēng
11 Scabbard 刀鞘 dāoqiào
12 Scabbard mouthpiece 刀鞘把束 dāoqiào bàshù
13 Suspension bands 刀鞘中束 dāoqiào zhōngshù
14 Suspension bar 刀束樑 / 鞘上雙眼束 dāo shù liáng / qiàoshàng shuāngyǎn shù
15 Scabbard endpiece 刀鞘庇束 dāoqiào bìshù
Saber tang 釘刀根鐵 dīngdāo gēntiě
Saber scabbard fittings 刀鞘束 dāo qiào shù
Saber lanyard 腰刀繫子 yāodāo xìzi
Saber edge is collapsed 刀刃崩 dāo rèn bēng
Saber edge has rolled up 刀刃卷 dāo rèn juǎn
Saber surface is rusty 刀上鏥 dāo shàng xiù
Saber surface is patterned 刀上斑 dāo shàng bān
To chop with a saber 刀砍 dāo kǎn
Strike with back of saber 刀背砍 dāo bèi kǎn
To carry a saber 帶刀 dài dāo
To pull the saber 拔刀 bá dāo
To insert the saber 挿刀 chā/zhǎ dāo
To shed the scabbard* 脫鞘 tuō qiào

*Chinese sabers were suspended from the belt by means of a belt-hook so the scabbard could be easily cast aside when the saber was drawn. This practice of "shedding the scabbard" is probably the reason why all saber forms in Chinese martial arts start with the saber already out of the scabbard.

Terms are taken from the:
同文廣彚全書 (Tongwen Guanghui Quanshu) or "Enlarged and complete dictionary"
Qing imperial dictionary in Chinese and Manchu of 1704, each entry double checked and approved by the Kangxi emperor.

五體清文鑑 (Wuti Qingwen Jian) "Five languages compendium"
A Qing imperial dictionary in Manchu, Mongolian, Uighur, Tibetan and Chinese of 1766. Published under the Qianlong emperor.

More about Chinese sabers:



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