Teng Pai (藤牌), Yao Dao (腰刀) and Biao Qiang (鏢鎗)

Three principal equipments of a Chinese Teng Pai Shou (藤牌手, rattan shieldman) are his Teng Pai (藤牌) shield, his Yao Dao (腰刀) sword, and his Biao Qiang (鏢鎗) javelin.

Teng Pai (藤牌, rattan shield)
Chinese Rattan Shield
Drawing of a Teng Pai, from 'Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》)'.
Originated from Fujian province, the Teng Pai is one of the more common shield types used by the Ming armies. Rattan/wisteria shield outperforms wooden shield in almost every conceivable way — it is cheaper, lighter, more flexible, and sturdier than wooden shield, plus it does not split along the grain (as rattan has no wood grain). However, rattan cannot grow in North China (which is colder and drier), so Ming troops from that region had to settle for Yuan Pai (圓牌, 'Round shield'), a variant that is made of willow wicker and covered with leather or rawhide.

Average size of a Ming period rattan shield is two chi five cun  to three chi in diameter. Chinese rattan shield usually does not feature metal shield boss (although exceptions do exist), unlike similar shields in Tibet and Southeast Asia region.

Yao Dao (腰刀, lit. 'Waist sabre')
Chinese Sabre
A Yao Dao and scabbard, from 'Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》)'.
Yao Dao is a generic term that applies to any one handed Chinese sabre normally used in conjunction with a rattan shield. 

Biao Qiang (鏢鎗, javelin)
Chinese Javelin
Drawing of a Biao Qiang, from 'Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》)'.
Also known as Fei Biao (飛鏢, lit. 'Flying dart'), Biao Qiang is a light javelin. Its primary purpose is to distract the enemy, but can still be lethal if it hits an unprotected vital.

Every Teng Pai Shou carried only two or three Biao Qiang with him. Biao Qiang would be thrown just before Teng Pai Shou charged with his sword. 


  1. Have there been any tests done with rattan shields to show how durable they are? Do you know if any with metal bosses were used?

  2. As far as I know, some Tibetan shield have metal boss. Southeast Asian rattan shields have plenty of bosses (or rather, metal attachments).

  3. Did it mention how long the Biao Qiang is?

    1. 4~5 chi (128~160cm) if I remember correctly.

  4. Do you have any artwork that shows how the javelins or darts would be carried? I've found images of Ming warriors carrying crossbows or bows at their waist, but never javelins.

    1. No image, but the rattan shieldman carry extra javelins in his shield (left) hand.