Chinese Swords

Chinese Swords

The Chinese swords are just as old as China and these also have a long history just like the country. Bronze blades have appeared all the way back from the Shang Dynasty as the bronze daggers that have been utilized during that period.

The long swords made from bronze appeared during the middle portion of the third century BC and the later Chinese swords were created using steel or iron metals that were wrought, not cast.

Chinese swords usually measured around seventy to a hundred centimeters, yet there were also some longer swords that have been acquired.

Chinese weapons were also utilized in Japan during the third to the sixth century AD but were eventually replaced with the authentic Japanese and Korean swords by the middle portion of the Heian period.

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History of the Chinese Swords

The creation of Chinese swords has been well-documented and the evolution, as well as the development of its design, is evident: the earliest Chinese swords from that era were commonly made of stone and were utilized during the prehistoric period.

In the years 1600 to 1046 BC (Shang Dynasty), the very first bronze creations led to the development of the fundamental metallic weapons.

From 1045 to 256 BC during the warring period of the Zhou era, these types of bronze weapons appeared to be short, straight, double-edged, and single-handed; during the Qin Dynasty, these swords were extended and turned into double-handed pieces.

In the Han Dynasty, the very first single-edged Chinese sword appeared together with the steel blades; its style and design remained until the year 960 to 1279 AD during the Song Dynasty where only a few alterations were made along the blade.

In 1279 to 1368 AD of the Yuan Dynasty, the Turko Mongol saber was introduced as the primary weapon for soldiers and civilians. Its shape became the basis of the Liuyedao and also the Yanmaodao of the later dynasties that came.

Finally, from 1644 to 1911 AD of the late Qing Dynasty, the more familiar blade called the Niuweidao was created. This was a single-edged and single-handed Chinese sword that also featured a flaring tip; it was never utilized in the military and only the civilians used this for self-defense.

Types of Chinese Swords

Although there were different types of Chinese swords, all of these can be divided into two different categories: the Dao and the Jian.

The Jian swords are usually double-edged whereas the Dao swords only feature a single edge. The other types of swords include the Chinese War Sword, the Iron Sword, and the Hook Sword.


The Jian is known as a straight, double-edged sword that has been utilized during the last two-thousand five hundred years in China. The very first source that mentioned the Jian Swords was during the Autumn and Spring period that dates back to the seventh century BCE; one of the earliest pieces of weapons would be the Sword of Goujian.

Historical single-handed versions of the Jian swords feature blades that have a length of forty-five to eighty centimeters, while the average weight of these swords ranges from seven hundred to nine hundred grams. Aside from these, there are also bigger double-handed versions of the weapon that are utilized for training in different kinds of Chinese martial arts.

A hilt or guard is present to protect the wielder’s hand and the shape of this is depicted as short wings that point forward or backward; a few Jian was created with the disc-shaped guard which was associated with the Dao.

The handle that is set behind the guard can readily accommodate both hands when gripping since the double-handed Jian’s grip measures around sixty-three inches in length; longer two-handed weapons could be utilized as a form of the lever to lock an enemy’s arm whenever necessary.

Chinese Swords - Jian

The grips of weapons were commonly made from fluted wood or at times, these were covered in rayskin; a couple of these weapons were also wrapped in a specific type of cord. Its handle’s ends are commonly finished with a pommel which is necessary for balance, preventing the Chinese sword’s handle from sliding from the wielder’s hand.

It can also be utilized for trapping or striking an enemy when the opportunity allows it. Generally, the Jian’s blades feature a subtle profile taper but commonly, these have considerable distal tapers with the thickness of the blade close to the tip. Jian swords also feature differential sharpening the process where a blade is progressively made sharper up to its tip.


Dao is commonly single-edged Chinese swords that were mainly utilized for chopping and slashing. Its most common form is also called the Chinese saber but the sabers with much larger blades are often referred to as the Chinese broadswords.

In China, the Dao swords are considered among the four classic weapons and the others include the qiang, the gun, and the jian. The Dao is considered as the Master of all the Weapons.

The blades of the Dao swords are curved to a degree and it is also a single-edged weapon. Its slight curve allows the weapon to be fairly effective when the wielder executes thrusting attacks. Canted hilts are sometimes present, arching in the opposite direction as the blade; this greatly improves handling of the weapon which makes it easier for the wielder to thrust and cut.

A cord usually encloses the wooden handle while its hilts may be pierced just like the Jian’s; this will allow the addition of lanyards but contemporary swords that are utilized for performances instead have a scarf or tassel.

The guard of the Chinese sword is usually disc-shaped and commonly featuring a cup shape; this is to prevent any rainwater from entering the sheath and it also works to prevent blood from trickling down the sword’s handle.


There are some guards that are thin pieces of metal with an S-like curve with its lower limb working to protect the wielder’s knuckles; this is necessary since it is rare to find these types of swords with guards that are similar to the Jian.

The four primary kinds of Dao swords include the Liuyedao, Niuweidao, Yanmaodao, and the Piandao with variations including the Dadao sword a machete-like piece, and the Butterfly sword which is generally a short dao.