Object Title

Glaive (Cai Fang dao)

Glaive (Cai Fang dao)



Object Number



Presented by Messrs. Gould and Swayne, 1956.

Physical Description

Long flat sided blade curving backwards towards the tip. The back edge, about three quarters of the way towards the point has three cusped indentations below which is a small downward curving hook. The blade issues from the mouth of a cast brass dragon head above an smoothed octagonal handguard with a downturned rim. The dragon head is executed in some detail; the teeth, mane and neck scales are all engraved, and the eye sockets protrude on either side of the head. Part of the left horn is missing, it has been broken off. Below this the shaft is fitted with three brass collars engraved with lines, between which are two iron rivets hammered between floral brass washers on either side of the shaft. There is a brass collar at the end of the shaft. The shaft has been stained and varnished, and is reddish brown in colour



BladeLength40 inches
BladeLength1020 mm
Overall (blade and shaft)Length99.5 inches
Overall (blade and shaft)Length2525 mm
Overall (blade and shaft)Weight5.154 kg

Inscriptions and Marks



Places China/Asia


A number of sets of staff weapons were copied from the ones preserved in the Imperial palace at Guangdong (Canton). Two complete sets were presented to the Royal Armouries, while a further set is in the Museum fur Volkerkunde in Vienna. Some of the originals were said to be dateable back to the Sui dynasty (6th century AD) but since they appear to be lost, their real dates may never be know. They still provide a fascinating insight into the types of staff weapon in use in China during and before the Ming dynasty (1368-1642)