Abstract: The article describes the problems of terminology in such very little-studied field as the Vietnamese weapons. The development of Vietnamese military tradition was facing intense Chinese influence. Major weapon types together with the terminology for their designation, were borrowed from China, which was simultaneously acting as a cultural contributor and ravenous aggressor seeking to regain the control over the lost southern territories. Having creatively elaborated the Chinese borrowings, as well as accepted Japanese, Thai-Burmese and even European elements, the Vietnamese craftsmen gradually developed a specific local set of weapons. In the article an attempt has been made to define a correct terminology for the Vietnamese bladed weapons, mark out its main types, trace back the history of their origin and expansion. A conclusion could be made that the Vietnamese traditional bladed weapon is made up of two major classes – dao and kiem/giom. First class encompasses single-edged slashing weapons having a broad, usually curved, blade. This class consists of smaller varieties – ma dao, and larger ones – dao chiong, intended for one hand grip and two hand grip respectively. The latter are also called dai dao, which unites them with the polearms, close in form and purpose. To second class refer both straight double-edged swords – analogue of Chinese jian, and single-edged cut and thrust weapons with a narrow blade, similar to the Chinese yao dao/lieu dao. This class also includes sabers of Japanese, Thai-Burmese and French design, which became widespread in Vietnam in the 17th-20th centuries. To clarify the weaponology terminology the author considers it possible to offer the following terms: falchion-dao, saber-giom and sword-kiem.
Keywords: Vietnam, terminology, dao, kiem, falchion, saber, bladed weapon