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David Cooper




Location: UK
Joined: 27 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Feb, 2014 3:44 am    Post subject: 5 Blades - No4 Naval Cutlass         Reply with quote

This one I'm really not sure about. Here is the original sales description:
A naval cutlass of a form which originated in China and then spread with merchants and pirates from the South China Seas around the world. (Blade 20'' overall 25'') Cutlasses were favoured weapons because of their short blades effective for use at close quarters in a confined space. C1720


The cutlass is in sound, tight condition with some corrosion to the blade. Substantial plain blade with no fuller. Ivory handle with brass or bronze knuckle bow and single quillon. Leather scabbard with a rolled cloth binding and suspension.
The handle passes the hot pin test and does appear to be genuine ivory. I have never seen a cutlass remotely like this and the c1720 date seems very early given the condition and appearance. The scabbard and binding obviously has some age but I wouldn't have thought 18th century. Anybody got any thoughts on this one, or seen anything similar?

My stats:
Weight: 2lb 3oz (1kg)
Length overall:25'' (63.5cm) Blade: 20.5''(52cm)
POB: 2.5'' (6cm)
Profile taper: 1.87'' (47.5mm) at base, 1.41'' (35.9mm) at mid blade, 0.88''(22.4mm) 2 inches from tip.
Distal taper 0.34'' (8.8mm) at base, 0.23'' (5.8mm)at mid blade,. 0.12'' (3.2mm)2 inches from tip.

Also posted on Sword Forum International



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The journey not the destination
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
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Posts: 1,493

PostPosted: Tue 11 Feb, 2014 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Usually called a "butterfly sword" or hudiedao (蝴蝶刀, literally "butterfly sword"). Most examples I've seen were originally in matched pairs, often but not always with D-shaped cross-sections for the grip so they can sit together in the same scabbard (in which case, in Chinese, 蝴蝶双刀, hudie shuiang dao, "butterfly double sword"). Some of the single ones were probably originally just single swords, but might have had lost partners.

I have read somewhere that a single one like this should be called something else, but I forget what.

Mid to late 19th century is typical, but still made (as swords to be used) into the 20th. My impression is that iron hilt fittings usually means earlier, brass fittings means later. That, and the general appearance suggest late 19th century to me.

More info and examples:
http://chinesemartialstudies.com/2013/01/28/a...tial-arts/

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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X Zhang





Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 40

PostPosted: Thu 13 Feb, 2014 9:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote





I am afraid that its more formal name is "八斩刀", Ba Zhan Dao. It is a specialty weapon from coastal provinces of south China , such as Fujian Province and Guangdong Province.

BTW: 这段话就不用英语来写了吧,免得有人说我地域歧视依我看,八斩刀这玩意简直就是街头斗殴用的原始武器,广东福建地区在中国古代军事上也毫无建树要不是前些年东南沿海地区经济繁荣,宣传上嗓门大些,这种东西在中国恐怕根本就不会有人关注
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David Cooper




Location: UK
Joined: 27 Apr 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Fri 14 Feb, 2014 3:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you Timo and X Zang. I had heard of butterfly swords before but handn't considered that possibility as I thought they always came a split pair. Interesting tio find these singe examples. X Zang, my Chinese is non existant but using Google translate on you post it seems to say that these swords were often used by street fighting gangs or militias. Doing some more research it seems these swords were often used in conjunction with a rattan shield. See picture.

Any ideas on the likely date of this sword? I was thinking late 19th century 1880 -1900?



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X Zhang





Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 40

PostPosted: Fri 14 Feb, 2014 6:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Cooper wrote:
Thank you Timo and X Zang. I had heard of butterfly swords before but handn't considered that possibility as I thought they always came a split pair. Interesting tio find these singe examples. X Zang, my Chinese is non existant but using Google translate on you post it seems to say that these swords were often used by street fighting gangs or militias. Doing some more research it seems these swords were often used in conjunction with a rattan shield. See picture.

Any ideas on the likely date of this sword? I was thinking late 19th century 1880 -1900?


In western world that the racism is socially forbidden and in China, the regionalism is one, too.....so..........You do not have to know what the Chinese sentences mean...........:-P


And, the weapon was born in mid-nineteenth century, inventer is a female buddhist.....and it has never been a standard weapon on bettlefields, it's just a primitive weapons for street fights.....
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Feb, 2014 11:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A single sword as a militia weapon would be used with a shield, if carried as a main weapon (rather than carried as an emergency sidearm). As a pirate sword, probably just by itself. As a gang weapon, just by itself. A matched pair would, of course, be used without a shield.

1880-1900 is a fair guess for a date. Swords like these were used by gangs outside China (e.g., Chinese gangs in San Francisco - see http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=20387 for some examples of their weapons), so probably some of these swords were made outside China, too.

"Ba Zhan Dao" = "Eight cutting sword" (more usually seen in the West as "Baat Jaam Do", the same in Cantonese). I've only seen this term used in various kung fu styles (especially Wing Chun) and those following their terminology.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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