Chinese yanyuedao
Overall length

64 cm / 25.2 inch

Blade length

49 cm / 19.3 inch

Blade thickness

Base 5 mm
Middle 3 mm
Near tip 2.5 mm

Blade width

Base 49 mm at base
At spike 106 mm

Weight

1003 grams

Origin

China, Qing dynasty

Materials

Iron, steel, brass

Dating

Probably 19th century

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Introduction

One of the most iconic of Chinese weapons, the yǎnyuèdāo (偃月刀) is commonly known as "Guandao" after the famous general Guan Yu, an actual historical figure that was deified as early as the Sui dynasty as a symbol of loyalty and righteousness. This term is only rarely found in historical references, and most military texts from Song to Qing refer to the weapon as yǎnyuèdāo (偃月刀), which is why I stick with this name as well.

This example

Presented is a yanyuedao blade of classic shape: The wide blade dramatically sweeping backward, with scalloped backedge leading to the spike. A decorative ornament is still attached to the hole in the spike. The bade emerges from the mouth of a brass dragon, shaped with protruding eyes and ears. This is a representation of Yázì (睚眦), the most aggressive of the nine sons of the dragon of classical Chinese mythology.

The blade is pretty well-made, with signs of an inserted hardened edge plate. Some damage to the very tip, and a crack at the upper base of the spike. Design and construction of this example suggest it was not for practice or parade, but built as an actual fighting weapon. The damage here and there seems to indicate it has seen some active service.

Conclusion
A rare example of an actual Qing dynasty yanyuedao, with a blade made for service.

 

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