Zheng Wu Tang's Qing Dao

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Zheng Wu Tang's Qing Dao

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Sat Jul 01, 2006 9:07 am

Zheng Wu Tang Qing Dao

http://www.zhengwutang.com/chinese/dao/qingdao/dao.htm

List Price: $1100 (model tested, models with other blades are also available)

Company Website: http://www.zhengwutang.com/



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Solo Basic Cuts & Form Practice Test- The dao is a some what less common blade form, for a Chinese saber. The blade of this dao gently narrows such that the back edge & the cutting edge taper along the entire blade length, from the forte of the blade to the tip. This blade shape provides for a more lively balance, more akin to that of jian than those of most dao; of course it does this at the expense of cutting power that a more forward balance would support. Personally, I like this type of balance & the lively blade play it allows for. I found it a pleasure to practice both basic dao cuts & the Yang Style Taiji Dao form with this saber.



Structural Integrity Test- Any one familiar with previous tests I've conducted knows I do not take it easy on blades being tested, this test was not different. I employed hua, pi, liao & kan cuts to cut two dead elm trunks of 3" & 5" diameter in two. During the test I struck with enough force to regularly sink the blade 2" into the target. From the test proof photo, one can see the blade was complete undamaged. The marks that can be seen on the blade after this structural integrity test are tree sap. After cleaning, there were only a very few, very small scratches, that were hard to see, on the blade. A test with a standard set of hardness testing files showed this blade edge to be between 50 & 55 HCR, the best range for a sword edge.



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Hard Cutting Test- Given the results of the previous tests, I expected this dao to perform well in the bamboo grove, & it did. I easily cut thru old grow, green bamboo of 2" diameter, without any difficult & without leaving any noticeable marks on the blade. In truth, cutting thru 4 or 5" of live bamboo was really too easy of a test for this saber.



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Historical Design Authenticity- As mentioned above, this dao has a less common blade form from than the majority of Chinese dao. However, this is not to say it is historically inaccurate. In fact, this blade is reminiscent of a Qing dynasty dao in private collection here in the US. That dao also tapers in the same manner this dao does & has markings on the blade indicating it was issued to a naval detachment of Han (Chinese) troops of the Blue Banner.



Any collector of antique Chinese arms will be familiar with the archaic dragon designs engraved on the brass fittings of this dao. These are 100% historically accurate in decoration. However, the shape of the scabbard fittings varies from any historical example I have examined. This dao is mounted in the yuanshi or "round style", as opposed to the fangshi or "square stlye", where the pommel is a lobed, mellon shape & the scabbard a oval cross-section. In this style, the scabbard chape should also be rounded. In this case, the scabbard chape is squared off & has a kind of chopped off look.



Rating- The Qing Dao is good sword for the money, whether intended for form test cutting practice. This is especially true in comparison with a hand made sword produced by an established sword smith here in the US, which would likely cost one at least four times what this dao sells for.



What I'd Like to See- It seems when I come to this point in every review thus far I feel I'm repeating myself, regardless of the company whose prodict I'm reviewing. Simply put: more attention to detail is needed. A good amount of work has gone into producing a very nice, functional, well handling blade. However, when one examines the blade more closely, one immediately notices the poor finish of the fullering. These grooves are cut in a design in use on Chinese dao since the early 18th century that was were originally inspired by the fullering on Indian Mogul sabers. They are a lot more work to cut into the blade than simple straight grooves, so why not take the trouble to finish the polishing inside the fullers to the same degree as the other surfaces of the blade? Also the fittings come off as tinny. The suspension band even slips on the scabbard. The brass of the fittings should be at least twice as thick as they are. Also, while the scabbard is well made, it could use a better finish. Even with all these little problems, this sword is a good deal for the price. It would be a great sword for the price if these small problems were taken care of.

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