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 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 use the Report Error form.
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!
Last updated: June 2, 2020
Parts of a Bladed Weapon
Characters: 刀身 | Pinyin: dāoshēn
- The main part of the blade, excluding the hilt
Characters: 刀尖 | Pinyin: dāojiān
- Do I need to explain this? It’s the pointy end
Characters: 刀刃 (or just 刃)| Pinyin: dāorèn
Synonymous characters: 刀口 | Pinyin: dāokǒu
- The sharp side of the blade used for cutting.
- Although 刀刃 and 刀口 can both refer to the edge of the blade, only 刀口 can also refer to the actual cut made by the blade.
- 刀刃 also sounds more poetic.
Characters: 刀背 | Pinyin: dāobèi
- The back of the blade, or, if it is a double-edged knife, the middle.
- The un-sharp side
- 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)
Characters: 柄 | Pinyin: 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
Character: 刀 | Pinyin: dāo
- A general term for anything with a blade (i.e. knife, sword, saber, dagger, etc.)
- Often interchangeable with “knife” in Chinese-English dictionaries
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 (source: Wikipedia)
- But 刀子 just usually refers to an ordinary kitchen knife.
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
- Length is usually no more than an adult’s hand
- I will use either small blade/pocket knife in my tl’s, depending on context
- In Chapter 28, Priest described the dagger as a 小刀… but to avoid confusion, I translated it as a small blade
- In Bestial Blade, I don’t think it’s referring to a foldable pocket knife.
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.
Large Blade / Broadsword
Characters: 大刀 | Pinyin: dàdāo
- “Large blade” is simply the literal translation of the characters
- Also known as the Chinese great sword
- 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
Characters: 马刀 | Pinyin: mǎdāo
- can also be translated as cavalry sword
- The saber has a wide spine and a thin edge, and its blade body is quite heavy, increasing the force when chopping. (source)
- comes in different types
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)
- 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. (As described by Suo Laimu in Chapter 27.2)
- Usually referred to as just “saber” in the novel
Characters who have this weapon: Chang An (the “saber” Chang An is holding 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)
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, Alan, Chang An
Characters: 尖刀 | Pinyin: jiāndāo
- The jiandao not only has a cutting edge, but also a sharp tip, and its spine is very narrow. (As defined by Chang An in Chapter 27.2)
- 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 be long or short
Characters who have this weapon: Bei Shi
Characters: 刀剑 or just 剑 | Pinyin: dāojiàn or just jiàn
- A weapon with a long metal blade and a hilt with a hand guard, used for thrusting or striking (Oxford Dictionary)
- I guess 刀剑 is more in line with how people commonly visualize a sword:
Characters: 弯刀 | Pinyin: wāndāo
- Literally, curved blade
- Synonymous to machete
- A short sword with a curved blade that broadens toward the point, used originally in Eastern countries. (Oxford dictionary)
Characters who have this weapon: Ka Zuo
Character: 戟 | Pinyin: jǐ
A long handled weapon with pointed tip and crescent blade