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Thread: Old/Antique Chinese Dao

  1. #1
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    Old/Antique Chinese Dao

    Lovers of these "knives" (some would say swords): would you please post some photos of genuine old examples, not the modern stuff made to look old (you know what I mean). Also, any links to good examples would be appreciated. I have several old ones attributed to late Qing early Republic periods--I'd like to get more educated on these. Thanks for your help.

    Tom
    Tom Donoho

  2. #2
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    Hello Tom, any chance you could post photos of the ones you have?
    David Gray

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    David,

    I will try to do so--I need my friend to walk me through use of digital camera. Meanwhile if you have any resources to point me to on these knivs/swords, wonderful.

    The ones I have seem well made, with honest wear and genuine (not the overdone fake type we see so much of lately on "antique" Chinese weapons) aging. I only clean with soapy water--I prefer to keep that aging and wear which I find makes the weapon so nice.

    Tom
    Tom Donoho

  4. #4

    Lightbulb

    Hi Folks,

    The picture quality is hideous on these 5 pics. I took them with my old camera, over five years ago. Since then, I've sold-off 2 and traded-off 1. Bought 5 more and traded for 1 more! When I get around to it, I'll take new photos with my slightly better camera.

    Ciao, Jon





    "A wise person aspires the study of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy teacher, an unlucky person finds yet another student... in the guise of a genuine Master. Sadly, a fool cannot tell the difference either way." Anecdotes of The Unknown Swordsman

  5. #5
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    Thanks, Jon!

    Are these old swords--about what era?

    Do you have any of the smaller "butterfly" type?

    Tom
    Tom Donoho

  6. #6
    Those are all old swords, and very nice ones at that. The youngest of the bunch would be the short one with a wire wraped handle.

    Nice collection Jon I don't think I have seen them all at once before.
    Josh

  7. #7

    Cool Ahhh...

    Hey Josh,

    Thanks for the kind words. The majority but not all of these, are from Seven Stars Trading Company (back in the good old days). And yes, the dandao is likely the youngest of the bunch (my very first antique Chinese sword). It cost all of $395.00 and I really thought I must have been crazy, at the time. Probably dating to the Republican Era? The very oldest would date from the late, late Ming dynasty. Sadly, early Ming and pre-Ming dao are far more rare than hen's teeth, let alone, earlier Chinese Dynastic periods. Given the millions upon millions of Chinese warriors who trod the battlefield of such a great nation... so few have survived the ravages of Time and the severity of corrosion. I am eager to see other collections posted here! Josh?

    Bring it on guys, Jon
    Last edited by jonpalombi; 09-27-2010 at 06:23 PM.
    "A wise person aspires the study of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy teacher, an unlucky person finds yet another student... in the guise of a genuine Master. Sadly, a fool cannot tell the difference either way." Anecdotes of The Unknown Swordsman

  8. #8
    Those are amazing swords... their combined value must be staggering!

    I hope someday I can own a good well-made ox-tail or willow-leaf dao

  9. #9
    Thanks for posting this. I am a growing bladesmith, and I am really becoming interested in dao. If there are any pics or links or information about historic dao and their construction (and anything about any sort of pattern welding or differntial heat treating -- PLEASE post or send it to me as a pm. I am hoping to spend a LONG time working to develop this skill set.

    thnaks,
    Kevin Colwell

  10. #10
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    Photos of some dao

    Here are some dao--my favorite is the smallest one (sorry photos are by a novice):
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Last edited by T. Donoho; 10-09-2010 at 02:55 PM.
    Tom Donoho

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by T. Donoho View Post
    Here are some dao--my favorite is the smallest one (sorry photos are by a novice):
    I wouldn't have thought these are dao Tom. They don't have many of the classic feathers of that weapon.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Sorcher View Post
    I wouldn't have thought these are dao Tom. They don't have many of the classic feathers of that weapon.
    Isn't "dao" just any single edged sword?
    I'm totally super cereal!

  13. #13
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    I am using the term "dao" in its general form to refer to any blade of curved configuration regardless of size--I believe dao used in this sense means "knife"--in the same manner that "jian" refers to any straight bladed sword regardless of size. Some would probably call the smaller dao "butterfly knives" (single or paired knives)--I have seen that term applied.
    Last edited by T. Donoho; 10-09-2010 at 11:30 PM.
    Tom Donoho

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    Dao - better photos

    Here are better photos of some dao:
    Attached Images Attached Images   
    Last edited by T. Donoho; 10-09-2010 at 11:44 PM.
    Tom Donoho

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    Quote Originally Posted by T. Donoho View Post
    I am using the term "dao" in its general form to refer to any blade of curved configuration regardless of size--I believe dao used in this sense means "knife"--in the same manner that "jian" refers to any straight bladed sword regardless of size. Some would probably call the smaller dao "butterfly knives" (single or paired knives)--I have seen that term applied.
    That is indeed the correct translation. However they call them butterfly swords, because a butterfly knife traditionally (in the west) has been that flick knife that is illegal.

    Dao means any single edged blade, you are correct. Technically it just means 'knife'. To be the most precise, you have to refer to the type of Dao for the various swords we lump under that banner. Liuyedao, niuwedao, yanmaodao, dadao, zhanmandao are all 'Dao' and there is a massive difference between them. The only thing they have in common is being singled edged weapons.

  16. #16
    Thanks for the clarification gentlemen. So it is just like the word pedang is used in Indonesia to generally refer to any single edged sword.

  17. #17
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    It's worse than pedang. "Dao" can be anything from little eating knives through bowie-size knives, short swords, long one -handed swords, 5-foot long two-handed swords, and polearms (apparently including some huge 4-handed polearms for use from fortification - 4-handed, as in meant to be used by two soldiers). As long as it's single-edged.

    Perhaps the best English translation of "dao" would be "blade".
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  18. #18
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    I've already posted these elsewhere but this is a usefull archive thread so here are pics of mine, which is a restoration project in progress.Btw the background to the tang is 5 mill graph paper.
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Last edited by David R; 02-19-2011 at 12:47 PM.

  19. #19
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    Halberd to Dao

    Something I noticed, and Mr Donoho might already know this, one of his Dao is very probably a pole arm head converted to a sword, the Royal Armoury has one very similar indeed and clearly labeled as such. A rarety,and a nice thing to have.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  20. #20
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    David,

    I have wondered about that dao being made from a polearm--it is quite heafty with a very hard edge. I think you are correct in your input here. Thanks for jumping in with that.

    I previously mentioned at a thread some where here at SFI that while I do appreciate the craftsmanship of a fine Japanese sword the effect is rather the same be it from that or a less fine Chinese dao--a devistating cut. In the case of this dao, the edge and weight, I think, would be terrifying and meant for business.
    Last edited by T. Donoho; 02-19-2011 at 01:32 PM.
    Tom Donoho

  21. #21
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    I recently started restoring a dao I had from some years ago, and began researching them up, there is actually not a lot of info out there I found. I live a short distance from the RA in Leeds, and looking at what they had of Chinese swords, I saw one very like the one you posted. The give aways are the widened tip, the baroque pierced back to the blade, and its heavy weight. It might be worth looking on the "Great River Taoist Centre" site, if you are not already familiar with it.
    I have come to view Chinese blades with a lot more respect than I had before, especialy having found that they were made in their essentials just like Japanese blades.
    Last edited by David R; 02-19-2011 at 03:02 PM.

  22. #22
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    David,

    Thanks for that information. It is a heavy sword but manageable.

    Chinese swords are not my forte--I am a small-sword man. But I do appreciate the role of the Chinese in sword development--as it applies to the Japanese sword and other swords of the area. Like you, I have a certain respect for the Chinese sword. The mastery of the jian is an art form from what I have read.

    Please keep us posted on your restoration.
    Tom Donoho

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