Another entry from me about history and artefacts, this time the dagger-axes of the Qin dynasty are getting some attention.
With most great kingdoms in history, there has been a powerful army to follow suit. Whether that was conveyed through accounts of strategy, sheer might or technological advancement, a strong army is often needed in a kingdom of power. The discovery of the terracotta warriors was a huge and defining moment for archaeologists with various vaults being unearthed. It’s not surprise that weapons from this era would be found as well.
Among these items there are the dagger-axes, known as戈 (gē) in Chinese. Those familiar with martial arts or perhaps even related movies will recognise these dagger-axes that are mounted to pole. While this type of weapon may seem like an invention to help chop bamboo and farm, this was not the case. The sheer purpose of this weapon was to be used in battle. It comes as the very first known weapon in Chinese history.
The long poles would have made ranged attacks and the design of these weapons eventually evolved to better suit their purpose and army composition. The dagger-axe would be the common weapon of infantry for melee combat. The design of the hook/bayonet is truly fierce and I can only imagine the brutality of the battles that took place in this time.
The utility of these weapons gave great advantage to infantry in numbers. While one can imagine the highly trained and skilled aristocrats of society to have an edge in war, the design of these weapons gave greater leverage to close this disparity. Warfare had evolved from chariots and smaller skirmishes into mass confrontations of infantry. It is most likely with this in mind that the weapons had seen some design refinement.
The dagger axes from the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum were unearthed in pit number 1. The blades were measured to be 26.7cm in length. Looking closer at the specimens, there calligraphy characters engraved. This is referred to as ‘Xiaozhuan’, a small seal that follows the standardisation of characters introduced by the Qin dynasty.
Most of these weapons will originate from the warring states period. This dates back all the way to around 475BC. During this period we would see the 14 kingdoms become 7 and eventually consolidate into a single unified nation. Recently I’ve been reading more and more into this part of history. Hopefully I will be able to collect my thoughts as I dive a little deeper into this.
Thanks for reading - Momosan.