Dao

Sword typology and Edge Weapons forms of the Chinese Empire and related cultures with an emphasis on their relationship to Swordsmanship.

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David R
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Dao

Post by David R » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:09 pm

Hi there, I am new to this forum, which I came upon while reasearching how to wrap the grip of a Dao. The reason for doing this, I am restoring a sword I bought some years ago in a dismounted condition. The mounts are dubious to say the least, but the blade is well forged and sturdy though of simple form. I would welcome ideas on the age and type of the blade, and whether it is worth putting a lot of effort or money into the restoration . I did not pay a lot for it, and in fact ignored it for some years, but am now in the process of going through the store room and looking at all the "projects" I amassed over the years.
Attachments
edited tang.JPG
The hilt had already been dismounted so the tang was readily accessible.
edited tang.JPG (42.95 KiB) Viewed 8417 times
cut dao.JPG
This is pretty well how it was when I got it.
cut dao.JPG (19.3 KiB) Viewed 8417 times

Nik
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Re: Dao

Post by Nik » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:26 am

I'm sure others can elaborate more overall, but one thing gives me confidence you have an old blade (i.e. no recent fake) - the square hole in the tang to put a securing bolt through. Modern stuff usually has that kind of hole drilled through, as this is much easier than hammering a hole through the red hot raw tang.

On the other hand, I don't think it's too old, as the thick rectangular edge on the handle end strikes me as odd. I haven't seen many late 19th, early 20th century blades though.

David R
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Re: Dao

Post by David R » Fri Jan 07, 2011 5:43 pm

Hi there,
the thick rectangular edge is the back of the blade, which at this point is about 10mill thick, the blade section is virtually a wedge, but with clamshell geometry edge. the first quarter of the blade tapers fairly quickly to 5mill and then almost parallel for half the blade and then a slow taper to about 1.5ml. Blade width at the base 42 mill, blade length 675 mill. there is almost no false edge. The background to the tang is 5mill graph paper.
Attachments
blade edit.JPG
Sorry for thr crude edit.
blade edit.JPG (27.74 KiB) Viewed 8358 times

David R
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Re: Dao

Post by David R » Fri Jan 07, 2011 5:51 pm

I am currently about two thirds of the way through cleaning/polishing the blade. The blade is covered with fine pits, but to polish them out would take too much material out of the blade, so I hope a light etch will bring out a little of the pattern and render the pits less noticeable. There is a narrow but definate line of bright steel at the edge, which is still sharp though with some small chips.
What I am seeking is some idea of the age of the blade, and info on how common a heavy unfullered blade like this is.

Aidan O'Brien
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Re: Dao

Post by Aidan O'Brien » Sun Jan 09, 2011 1:57 am

How heavy is heavy? Unless I missed it, you have no weight for it listed.

As for polishing it yourself, I'll let others discuss that with you. Depending on your experience

David R
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Re: Dao, weight.

Post by David R » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:22 pm

Hi there, went down to a friends workshop and weighed the sword, total weight 1kilo 6grms, blade alone 954 grms.
I don't have the money to pay some one else to clean and polish, but have been collecting for 40 years, so, no power tools and a lot of stopping and looking. Doing about an hour and a half on the job per day. I am scouring various sites for advice, and am always open to suggestions. I have to say, if the sword was not in relic condition I probably would not touch it beyond a light oil, but it is, so I am restoring it as best I can, with advice from some friends in the antique business.
Trouble is, Chinese swords are a bit of a terra incognita, and even the Royal Armouries Library was only able to dig out 2 books on Chinese arms, one of those in French, and both concentrating on Ming and earlier. They had more info on Tibetan stuff than Chinese. A nice display in the gallery, but again only 3 Dao proper and the same for Jian!

Nik
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Re: Dao

Post by Nik » Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:21 pm

Blade alone means really the blade with no fittings, right ? Then, 1600g seems unusually heavy to me. Also, at a blade weight of 964g, I would expect the total weight around 1350g. Fittings of 650g also seem too heavy to me. On the other hand, if the sword owner wanted the dao like this, it was up to him what he ordered. Or did you mean the sword with and without scabbard ?

David R
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Re: Dao

Post by David R » Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:57 pm

Blade alone, stripped of all fittings, 954 grams, blade with hilt and no scabbard 1,006grms , just over one kilo total.

David R
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Re: Dao

Post by David R » Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:25 pm

Just began the last stages of polishing, it's surprising how much the blade shines up in the later stages with the finer grits . If I get the chance I will post up some pics of the blade in the bright, before I try to bring up any pattern with an etch.

Aidan O'Brien
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Re: Dao

Post by Aidan O'Brien » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:53 am

There's no need to etch the blade. The Chinese traditionally had subtle patterns on their blades, so the wild sworls that are so common now on pattern welded blades were rather rare if present at all. Understated elegance is probably the best way to describe the look you'll be wanting to go for.

David R
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Re: Dao

Post by David R » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:25 pm

I've been following other threads on this forum ,on the subject of restoring original Dao, and have been intrigued by the composition of the old blades. I have also seen references to etching to bring out the pattern, followed by a final polish to subdue the effect, but leaving the pattern visible.
I am in certain respects lucky in the condition of the Dao, not so good that I fear spoiling it, not so bad that the effort would be futile.
I have come to the conclusion that Chinese blades have been greatly underrated in the past, and would like to satisfy my curiosity about this one.

David R
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Re: Dao

Post by David R » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:22 am

Well today I had a go at etching the blade, using hot vinegar mopped on the surface with paper towels and a cheap brush. I went for the milder option on the basis that you can always go up a level of acidity easier than recover from one too far. The blade has gone a nice shade of slate grey, and the edge plate stands out nicely, I thought I had more of a pattern, but lost a lot with the final wire wool wipe. I will now waite a while before trying again, I have found in the past with Indian swords that sometimes the pattern develops more if it is left a while.
I would like more definition, but am aware that with these any pattern is a byproduct of the construction method, and was not an aim in itself. The duller colour is I think more in keeping with an old blade than a bright polish, and the micro pitting is now less noticeable, which is as I hoped. Might have a go later with pineapple juice which has been recommended elsewhere.
I will concentrate more on replacing the guard and binding the grip now.

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Re: Dao

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Feb 11, 2011 9:29 am

Judging from the overall form & the state of the tang, your dao likely dates from the late 19th c. Shorter blades, like this example, are often stout, heavy blades as one can handle the great weight given that the shorter blade means less torque when cutting than a "full length" dao.
David R wrote:... The blade is covered with fine pits, but to polish them out would take too much material out of the blade, so I hope a light etch will bring out a little of the pattern and render the pits less noticeable...
Often etching a blade does the opposite, making the pits more noticeable, so it is a good idea to go slow as you have.

David R
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Re: Dao

Post by David R » Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:51 pm

Thank you for your input, I did not think this blade had any great age to it, but I am happy to hear that it is at least not a modern repro. Were these shorter blades used in any particular context, ie infantry as opposed to cavalry, engineers rather than infantry, body guards rather than soldiers?
There is so little genuine info available on Chinese swords, that a resource like this site is invaluable and I must say, since researching the one I have , I now regard it and Chinese swords in general with considerably more respect than I did.

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Historical use of Short Dao

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:41 am

David R wrote:... Were these shorter blades used in any particular context, ie infantry as opposed to cavalry, engineers rather than infantry, body guards rather than soldiers?
... a resource like this site is invaluable and I must say... I now regard it and Chinese swords in general with considerably more respect than I did.
The 18th c. Regulations (the Huang Chiao Liqu Tushi) lists a short dao that was carried by the Cloud Ladder Units, that is the wall scaling troops. Other than that, we have noticed that a large percentage of short dao & jian date from the mid- to late 19th c. This was a time of almost constant rebellion & banditry in China. In other words, it was a time when average people town would have felt the need to arm themselves. The defense of towns & villages fell to local militia organized by the local gentry. Fighting by these units was essentially all defensive, taking place on walls or inside the towns. That meant fighting in tight spaces. Some years ago I visit a very small village in Shanxi that had a brick gate that you wouldn't want to try & squeeze even a small, compact car thru & the remnants of a mud brick wall around the rest of it. Honestly, in such situations, full length swords could be a poor choice, particularly if you are fighting alongside other men. Because of this historical situation, these shorter weapons are generally associated with local militia, body guards, etc.

Thanks supporting the forum...

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