Hudiedao overall photo
This item has been sold.
Overall length

Sheathed 57.5 cm

Left 56.3 cm

Right 56.3 cm

Blade length

Left 44.6 cm

Right 44.5 cm

Blade thickness

Left 12.5, 8.5, 5.5 mm

Right 13, 9, 5.5 mm

(Base, middle, 5cm from tip)

Blade width

Left 48, 32.5, 19 mm

Right 49, 33, 19.5 mm

(Base, middle, 5cm from tip)

Weight

Sheathed 2032 grams

Left 912 grams

Right 941 grams

Point of balance

Left 9.2 cm from guard

Right 8 cm from guard

 

Materials

Iron, steel, brass, hardwood, leather, textile

Origin

Southern China

Dating

Circa 1850-1875

Provenance

From a French collector

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Introduction

Húdiédāo (蝴蝶刀), are a type of double swords that originated in or around the port cities of southern China. They are known in the local Cantonese dialect as bat jam do or "eight cutting knives". (八斬刀, pronounced bāzhǎndāo in Mandarin) The type seems to have emerged in the mid 19th century, as a merging of typical Chinese fighting knife blades with handles inspired by western naval sabers and entering knives. They typically have half-hilts that fit in a single scabbard side-by-side and can be drawn as if they were one weapon.

For more information, see my glossary article: Húdiédāo (蝴蝶刀).

 

This set

Classic pair of Southern Chinese butterfly swords. The substantial blades start off wide and taper to a fairly sharp point. I would consider them the narrow, more lethal variety, but within that range, they are on the wider side. The blades have a strong triangular cross-section, considerably taper in both width and thickness, and the typical back bevel usually present on these. The tips are oblique. Blades are in decent condition. Some patches of now stabilized corrosion and scratches.

 

Hilts

The hilts feature the characteristic D-shaped guards, this time executed in the stronger iron rather than the usual brass. The ferrules are brass, and with the tang peened over brass washers.

The handles are carved of precious hardwood, with a design of a dragon carved on the right grip, and a phoenix on the left grip, alluding to the forces of Yin and Yang applied in practice. This is rather unusual, normally baskets of flowers of simple geometric patterns are seen.

The designs are bordered with a geometric pattern known as "rolling thunder" that resembles the Greek key of Hellenistic art.

 

Dragon phoenix hilts on hudiedao

 

Scabbard

The pigskin scabbard is made out of two pieces, a front that folds around the blades and a separate back. It is reinforced with an extra piece as the scabbard mouth. About two-thirds of the scabbard is wrapped with cord.

Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hiltsHudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts
Hudiedao set with dragon phoenix hilts

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