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A 17th–18th century liuyedao with gilt iron fittings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art [1]
Traditional Chinese 柳葉刀
Simplified Chinese 柳叶刀
Literal meaningwillow leaf knife

The liuyedao or willow-leaf saber is a type of dao that was commonly used as a military sidearm for both cavalry and infantry during the Ming and Qing dynasties. A descendent of the earlier Mongol saber the liuyedao remained the most popular type of single handed sabre during the Ming Dynasty, replacing the role of the military role of the Jian. [2] Many schools of Chinese martial arts originally trained with this weapon. [2]


This weapon features a moderate curve along the length of the blade. This reduces thrusting ability (though it is still fairly effective at same) while increasing the power of cuts and slashes. The hilts are typically straight, but can be re-curved downward starting in the 18th century. [3] It weighs from two to three pounds, and is 36 to 39 inches long.

Many examples will often have a decorated collar at the throat of the blade called a tunkou, which are stylistic holdovers from the preceding Mongol designs. [2]

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These swords were used by the Turkic nomads of the Eurasian steppes primarily between the 9th and 14th centuries. One of the earliest recorded sabres of this type was recovered from an Avar grave in Romania dating to the mid 7th century. Although minor variations occur in size and hilt, they are common enough in design across 5 centuries that individual blades are difficult to date when discovered without other context.



  1. Tom 2001, pp. 217–219.
  2. 1 2 3 Tom 2005, pp. 77-78
  3. Tom, Philip (2019). "Of Geese and Willows". Mandarin Mansion.