The zhanmadao (Chinese: 斬馬刀; pinyin: zhǎnmǎdāo; literally: 'horse chopping saber') was a single-bladed anti-cavalry Chinese sword. It originated during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and was especially common in Song China (960–1279).
|Type||Infantry anti-cavalry saber|
|Place of origin||Han dynasty, China|
|Variants||Possible changdao, miaodao, wodao, zanbatō|
|Length||Approx 200+ cm|
|Blade length||Approx 150+ cm|
|Blade type||Single edged, straight for most of the length, curving in the last third.|
|Hilt type||Two handed|
The zhanmadao is a sabre with a single long broad blade, and a long handle suitable for two-handed use. It was used as an anti-cavalry weapon, dating from Emperor Cheng of Han, made to slice through a horse's legs. This is mentioned in the "Wu Jing Zong Yao" a Song Military Manual from 1072. It featured prominently against the Jin armies in campaigns between 1129 and 1141.
Surviving examples include a sword that might resemble a nagamaki in construction; it had a wrapped handle 37 centimetres long making it easy to grip with two hands. The blade was 114 centimetres long and very straight with a slight curve in the last half.
Possible variations of these Chinese swords were the changdao, miaodao, and wodao. The sword may have been the inspiration for the Japanese zanbatō; both are written with the same characters and have been said to have been used for killing the horse and rider in one swing.
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