Vetyukov V. (2015). Tradicionnoe klinkovoe oruzhie V’etnama. Problemy terminologii [Traditional Bladed Weapons of Vietnam. The Problems of Terminology]. Istoricheskoe oruzhievedenie [Weapons History Journal], № 2, pp. 12 — 27.

Vetyukov V.

Abstract: The article describes the problems of terminology in such a very little-studied field as the Vietnamese weapons. The development of Vietnamese military tradition faced intense Chinese influence. Major weapon types as well as the terminology for their designation were borrowed from China, which acted both as a cultural contributor and a ravenous aggressor seeking to regain the control over the lost southern territories. Having creatively elaborated the Chinese borrowings and accepted Japanese, Thai-Burmese and later even European elements, the Vietnamese craftsmen gradually developed a specific local set of weapons. In the article there is made an attempt to define a correct terminology for the Vietnamese bladed weapons, to mark out its main types and trace back the history of their origin and expansion. Hence, a possible conclusion presumes the Vietnamese traditional bladed weapon to be made up of two major classes – dao and kiem/guom. The first class encompasses single-edged slashing weapons with a broad, usually curved, blade. This class incorporates smaller variants – ma dao, and larger ones – dao truong, intended for one hand grip and two hand grip respectively. The latter are also called dai dao which unites them with the polearms regarding form and purpose. To second class refers both straight double-edged swords, the analogue of Chinese jian, and single-edged cut and thrust weapons with a narrow blade similar to the Chinese yao dao/liuye 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 terminology used for weapon designation the author considers it possible to offer the following terms: falchion-dao, saber-guom and sword-kiem while the use of both European and Asian terms accepted in the scientific works on weapons seems to be inexpedient. Presuming the traditional Vietnamese hieroglyphic script and the Latin alphabet, kuokngu, accepted officially in Vietnam in 1918 it is wise to provide the weapon terms not only in the transliteration into Russian but in the cuneiform and contemporary Latin spelling as well.

Keywords: Vietnam, terminology, dao, kiem, falchion, saber, bladed weapon