Weaponry in Bestial Blade

Last updated on December 3, 2020

This is a guide to the different blade weapons and weapons terminology mentioned in the novel, Bestial Blade by Priest. I think it can be used for Chinese blade weapons in general though; however, I will prioritize matching the definitions as they appear in the novel over real-life accuracy.

I don’t know anything about weaponry, much less ancient Chinese weaponry, so I had to do a lot of research and consult other translators to be able to compile all the information here. Still, there may be some mistakes in this guide. If you find any, feel free to contact me about it.

Note: Terms are listed, not alphabetically, but by the order of which I think the readers should learn first, so make sure to read from the beginning to the end!


The Dao and the Jian

In Bestial Blade, two types of weapons are mentioned a lot—Dao (刀) and Jian (剑).

“Dao” literally translates as just blade/knife. It can be used as a general term for any bladed weapon. In my translations, Dao is mostly translated as “blade,” but sometimes, “saber.”  It has a single edge and a curved blade . The most common form is also known as the Chinese saber (马刀), although those with wider blades are sometimes referred to as Chinese broadswords (大刀).

The Jian, on the other hand, features  double edge and a straight blade . In Chinese folklore, it is known as “The Gentleman of Weapons” and is considered one of the four major weapons (the Dao is also one of the 4 major weapons). In my translations, jian is mostly translated as sword


Parts of a Dao

Since the main character in Bestial Blade uses a Dao, I’ve included this little table on its parts. I won’t be doing the same for the Jian

PartCharacters & PinyinDefinition
Blade body刀身 (dāoshēn)The main part of the blade, excluding the hilt
Tip刀尖 (dāojiān)Do I need to explain this? It’s the pointy end
Edge刀刃 / 刀口 (dāorèn / dāokǒu)The sharp side of the blade used for cutting.
Spine刀背 (dāobèi)The spine is the thickest part of the blade body, and provides strength to the edge. As a rule, the thicker the spine, the stronger the blade. Spine thickness is also important because it effects the balance of the knife (source)
Handle柄 (bǐng)This is the part you hold. It is sometimes called the grip, but it’s not. Moreover, do not confuse this with hilt (like I once did). The hilt is everything that is not the blade–a combination of the pommel, handle, and guard.

Types of Weapons

Now, before you read, here’s a piece of advice: Don’t get too confused with the terms “sword” and “saber.” Throughout this article, you’ll often see them interchangeable, but in Chinese, they are mainly translated from either 刀 (dao) or 剑 (jian). All these Chinese blade weapons are either a dao or a jian, but when translated to English, they get mixed up as “sword” or “saber.” For now, just remove all your preconceived ideas about what a sword or saber should look like. Treat them as just convenient English terms to refer to them, but they don’t necessarily define them.

Knife

Characters: 刀子 | Pinyin: dāozi

Technically, a knife is a general term for any tool with a cutting edge or blade often attached to a handle or hilt. Therefore, daggers and swords are also considered as knives. However, 刀子 in Chinese just usually refers to an ordinary kitchen knife.

Razor

Characters: 刀片 | Pinyin: dāopiàn

Think: Attack on Titan’s 3D Maneuver Gear. Like the blade in a cutter.

Characters who have this weapon: Young!Chang An. This is the scrap blade he picked up in Chapter 10.

Small Blade / Pocketknife

Characters: 小刀 | Pinyin: xiǎodāo

Its length is usually no more than an adult’s hand.

In Chapter 28, Priest described the dagger as a 小刀… but to avoid confusion, I translated it as a small blade.

Characters who have this weapon: Young!Chang An. This is the blade he used when he first trained under Bei Shi. Hua Yi also has one.

Short Blade / Short Saber

Characters: 短刀 | Pinyin: duǎndāo

The short saber is a smaller version of a saber that allows for fast, light, single handed use in combat. The small size of this weapon makes it ideal for smaller people and fast, light, fighting styles. (source)

Long Blade / Long Saber

Characters: 长刀 | Pinyin: chángdāo

A long two-handed, single-edged sword that measures usually 5 feet in length with a 14 inch handle and 44 inch blade. This powerful sword was first used around the seventh century by the Tang Dynasties elite vanguard infantry units, the best and most highly trained warriors of the empire. These swords became the symbol of these elite units who often led the assault. (source)

Large Blade / Great Saber / Broadsword

Characters: 大刀 | Pinyin: dàdāo

Based on agricultural knives, dadao have broad blades generally between two and three feet long, long hilts meant for “hand and a half” or two-handed use, and generally a weight-forward balance. Some were made for military use, but they were most commonly associated with civilian militias or revolutionaries. While not a particularly sophisticated sword, the weight and balance of the dadao gave it considerable slashing and chopping power, making it an effective close combat weapon for untrained troops. (source)

Characters who have this weapon: Chang An’s saber is often referred as a 大刀

The Saber / Cavalry Sword

Characters: 马刀 | Pinyin: mǎdāo

The saber has a wide spine and a thin edge, and its blade body is quite heavy, increasing the force when chopping. (source)

I’m italicizing that “The” in the title to emphasize that this is the actual weapon being referred to as “saber” throughout the novel.

Horse-Chopping Saber

Characters: 斬馬刀 | Pinyin: zhǎnmǎdāo

It features a single-edged, curved blade, and was primarily used for chopping-style attacks and defensive maneuvers. (source)

It dates back to the early 200’s and earns its name from killing horses on the battlefield. It’s a two-handed, single-edged weapon that measures five feet in length. 14″ Handle 44″ Blade. (source)

The lightest one could already weigh up to a hundred jins. It has great power when it swings down, and it can easily behead a huge beast. Wherever it goes, it is brave, fierce, and unmatched. All fowls and beast would retreat. But in the end, however, it is cumbersome and inconvenient to use in close combat.Suo Laimu, Chapter 27.2
Characters who have this weapon: Chang An. The “saber” he’s holding though in the audio drama cover, which you can find in this novel’s homepage, is actually very different from the description of the horse-chopping saber.

Dagger

Characters: 匕首 | Pinyin: bǐshǒu

A dagger is a knife with a very sharp point and usually two sharp edges, typically designed or capable of being used as a thrusting or stabbing weapon. (source: Wikipedia and Wikipedia CN)

Characters who have this weapon: Bei Shi, A’Lan, and Chang An

Scimitar

Characters: 弯刀 | Pinyin: wāndāo

A short sword with a curved blade that broadens toward the point, used originally in Eastern countries. It’s synonymous to machete.

Characters who have this weapon: Ka Zuo and Suo Laimu

Jiandao

Characters: 尖刀 | Pinyin: jiāndāo

The characters literally mean pointed/sharp blade. I actually don’t have a proper English translation for this yet, so I just used the pinyin. Chinese dictionaries would translate it to dagger, but I disagree. It can also be long or short.

The jiandao not only has a cutting edge, but also a sharp tip, and its spine is very narrow. Chang An, Chapter 27.2
Characters who have this weapon: Bei Shi and Luda (this is the weapon he used while training under Chang An)

Sword

Characters: 刀剑 or just 剑 | Pinyin: dāojiàn or just jiàn

The typical thing that comes to your mind when you see the word “sword.”

Long Sword

Characters: 长剑 | Pinyin: chángjiàn

I honestly don’t know how to describe this. But it’s a jian, and it’s long. It was mentioned once in Chapter 55.

Halberd

Character: 戟 | Pinyin:

A long handled weapon with pointed tip and crescent blade

chinese ji (halberd)

Firewood Axe

Characters: 劈柴的斧头 | Pinyin: Pǐchái de fǔtóu

The firewood axe has a thick spine and a blunt edge. Even if it’s sharpened, it won’t sharpen as fast as a common blade. Otherwise, it will quickly break.Chang An, Chapter 37
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Lizonka

Getting into Creative Writing for my college course was a pure accident, but thanks to that, I can excuse my excessive reading of danmei novels as "studying" ( •̀ ω •́ )✧

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