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Old "Yan Yue Dao" Restauration 偃月刀
by Jonathan Babrary
The "Reclining Moon Blade" better know as "Guan Dao" 關刀, the legendary blade of the
great general Guan Yu, hero of the 3 Kingdoms.
It is not necessary to remember you that, it was certainly never handled by General Guan.
So, i bougth this blade from another friend collector and instantaneously when i saw it, i was pushed
to think how to fixed and restored it.
What we know about his history is just that, it was collected in Shangdong province, north east of
China. Lot of martial arts originaly came from there.
Concerning his physical caracteristic, we can assume that, it is a civilian martial artist weapon as, his
thickness is not enough to see real battle. His base could be enough, but directly fall down in his length
and even in his widthness. When you handle it, you understand instantaneously it was not a war
The rusty blade at beggining
The blade :
Length : 51cm
Wide : 5,2cm close to the guard and 10cm at widthness partThikness : at forte :5mm
Weight : I forgot to take mesurement before fitted it in his shaft…
The blade was full of rust, the edge was a little squiggly and the back pike was wrongly bent. It came
without guard. Looking at is hugly face, i guess it was one no one of my antique collector friend would
love to own. But….
So, first, i have cleaned it with sand paper (around 3h of intensive work). Then, i have hammered the
squiggly edge and unbent the back pike. This work done with blowtorch for warmed the iron and with
train rail instead of anvil.
After cleaning the blade, it was time to think about his guard. I got years ago an old crude Yanmaodao
"goose-quill saber" with totaly wrong fitting, pommel and guard. So, i decided to taking the guard off
and using it in this new Guan Dao.
I had unbent the guard and had putted it in a
mixture of salte and citron juice. At beggining it
seemed working well, but… when driying, always
rust coming up.. So, i finished to cleaned it in the
same way as the blade.. old methode : « elbow
Next part was done by a friend of mine who is iron worker. He made for me a cylindric tube for
handle, additing rivet in way to fixe the Tang inside the wodden pole. Of course, made by new iron, it
diden’t matched well with the antique patina of the blade and guard. So, i bougth a special peint who
make illusion and look like iron grey patina.
Now, time to peint the shaft. I used a red vermillon color like it is depicted concerning the Yanyuedao
in the Huang chao Liqi Tushi 皇朝禮器圖式 from the Qing dynasty weapon regulation part. Then, i
had varnish the pole in order to protect it.
Finaly, i bougth cheap « blood stopper » (or
syntetic horse taill, call it like you wan’t) and, with iron
wire make a small tassel i addit and i’ve had put on the
hole made for.
Now, this weapon is ready to practice and perform forms with.
Of course, it is an amator work and i hope to make good progress on the futur, but, i enjoyed very
much working on it, giving a new life at an old martial artist weapon. Actualy, i tend to prefer getting
cripple weapons and taking care on their health trying to get things back into shape.
I would like to thank’s Christophe Frugier for his advices. As an amator, i like to learn from others, but
also, like to find my way to do things.
Now, you know all on his history !