Republican dadao | Mandarin Mansion

Republican dadao

Overall length: 79.3 cm / 31.2 inch
Blade length: 53.7 cm / 21.1 inch
Thickness: forte 6 mm, middle 4.5 mm.
Blade width: forte 46.5 mm, widest 72.5 mm.
Weight without scabbard: 1042 grams

A republican military dadao (大刀). In July of 1937 a unit of about 100 Republican soldiers carrying their dadao alongside modern rifles and grenades faced a Japanese troop force of 5600 men on the Marco Polo bridge or 盧溝橋 (lugouqiao) in Northern China. Among the Japanese were cavalry armed with katana. The Japanese crossed the bridge without permission to look for a soldier that had apparently gone missing on the other side. Soldiers of the ROC raided the bridge, dadao in hand, and repulsed the Japanese, losing all but four men. This went into history as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident which in turn is seen as the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The weapon further gained fame in the hands of certain Big Knife Units 大刀會 dadaohui, in particular the 29th army, specializing in close quarters combat

The dadao has become a symbol of the Chinese post-imperial resistance, much like the Kalashnikov for the Soviet Union. Dadao that carry markings of the 29th army highly sought after, one fetching nearly €10.000 on an auction in Beijing.

Troops training with dadao. From the nice article at Kung Fu Tea.

This particular piece probably never saw action, with nice and even contours and no blade damage from edge contact. It is still in factory finish, soldiers were expected to sharpen them themselves. It retains its original scabbard with the sling with which it was slung over the shoulder when on the march. The strap is broken. One of the two fastening buttons are missing. It is the best condition dadao I've seen in my years in this field.


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Japanese soldiers with a trophy dadao, Manchuria, 1930's.