Flails of the Ming Dynasty

Tie Lian Jia Bang (鐵鏈夾棒, lit. 'Iron chain with clubs')
Chinese Infantry Flail
Drawing of a Tie Lian Jia Bang, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Tie Lian Jia Bang is the Chinese version of two-handed infantry flail. It is also known as Lian Ting (連梃, lit. 'Linked staff'), Lian Jia Bang (連耞棒), and several other names.

Early references of this weapon can be found in the works of Warring States period Mo Zi (《墨子》) and Tang period Tong Dian (《通典》). However, according to Song period Wu Jing Zong Yao (《武經總要》), this weapon originated from a specialised cavalry weapon used by the nomadic enemies of China.

Qing Dynasty Dual Wielding Flails
A pair of flails, from 'Huang Chao Li Qi Tu Shi (《皇朝禮器圖式》)'.
During Qing period, flail became associated with Han Jun (漢軍, lit. 'Han Banners'). Qing flails were generally smaller and usually used in pairs.

Nowadays this weapon is known as Shao Zi Gun (梢子棍) and Pan Long Gun (盤龍棍, lit. 'Coiling dragon staff') by the Chinese martial arts communities.



Lian Zhu Shuang Tie Bian (連珠雙鐵鞭, lit. 'Linked bead double iron whip')
Drawing of a Lian Zhu Shuang Tie Bian (highlighted), from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Lian Zhu Shuang Tie Bian is a variant of common infantry flail that has two connected striking ends, making it an early predecessor of three-section staff.


Ball-and-chain-flail
Chinese ball-and-chain flail
Ming period painting of Lei Gong (雷公), Chinese god of thunder, with a ball-and-chain flail. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
While extremely uncommon, ball-and-chain flail was known to the Chinese. However, whether this weapon was actually used on the battlefield is anyone's guess.

14 comments:

  1. These are a favourite weapon of Joseon cavalry.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Jayson
    I know there is a section in Muyedobotongji that teaches horseback flail, but have no idea about how common it was among Joseon cavalry. What major war(s) did Joseon participate after Imjin?

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  3. @Jayson
    Ahh, totally forget that one...aren't they got defeated in an instant?

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  4. Rebellion of 이괄

    They saids army of 이괄's calvary armed with long flail so gorverment army cant match with them

    and some script saids "after musket were invented bow became useless and after flails swords are became useless

    ReplyDelete
  5. "解圍突陣, 莫若鞭棍。 今番賊适馬軍七百人, 皆用鞭棍, 以此莫能當耳。"

    ReplyDelete
  6. @s ss
    Good day and welcome to my blog! And thanks for the info!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi!
    It's me again, I wanted to ask you if you have any accounts of flails being used by foot soldiers, and how common they were on the battlefield? Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good day.

      Flail was actually more commonly used by foot soldiers than cavalry. It was generally used to defend fortress wall, war carts, and other field fortifications. Not really common on he battlefield, but still used quite frequently.

      At the moment I can only recall one battle during Qing-Dzungar war where Qing infantry using flail to assault a Dzungar position.

      Delete
  8. In the record from joseon during qing ivasion they describe qing horseman with flail won over their counterparts (joseon flail cavarly)

    is there any qing record for their horseman's flail?

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    Replies
    1. Flail cavalry has been in existence in China since at least the Song Dynasty. Northern Song general Di Qing deployed flail cavalry to suppress Nong Zhigao's rebellion in South China.

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    2. @s ss
      I have no idea since I haven't read up on the records of those wars.

      @TheXanian
      While it is true that Chinese used flail cavalry since the Song Dynasty,Later Jin/Qing cavalry did not necessary use flail. I could be wrong though.

      Delete
    3. how relevant horsemans flail is regardless of dynasty or context?

      i know after imjin war joseon cavarly use flail extensively over conventional sword (even westerners describe their weapon as flail) and we know that flail and method came from ming dynasty

      however i cant find any quality source about chinese horsemans flail except some sing period record

      Delete
    4. I think flail was niche weapon at best. Sabres and lances/other polearms would still be far more common.

      Delete

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