27 October 2015

Maces of the Ming Dynasty

The proper Chinese name for mace is Gu Duo (骨朵), which is a corruption of Gua Zhun (胍肫), meaning big belly or flower bud. It is also known as Chui (錘, can be written as 鎚, meaning hammer), the later term is more common in modern usage.

Suan To Gu Duo (蒜頭骨朵, lit. 'Garlic mace')
Ming Dynasty Mace
Drawing of a Suan Tou Gu Duo, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Suan Tou Gu Duo is a mace with a garlic- or pumpkin-shaped mace head.

Qing Dynasty mace
A typical Chinese mace. Private collection.

Ji Li Gu Duo (蒺藜骨朵, lit. 'Puncturevine mace')
Ming Dynasty Morning Star
Drawing of a Ji Li Gu Duo, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Ji Li Gu Duo refers to a knobbed or spiked mace.

Liao Dynasty spiked mace
Liao period iron spiked mace. Inner Mongolia Museum.

Other maces
Aside from the two maces recorded in Wu Jing Zong Yao (《武經總要》) and Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》), several types of maces were also used in the Ming army.

Spherical Mace
Chinese Rounded Mace
Qing period short mace with spherical head. Private collection.
The simplest form of mace, the use of spherical mace was comparatively rare compared to other types.

Ba Ling Chui (八棱錘, lit. 'Eight-edged mace')
Chinese mace design
A Qing period mace with polyhedral head. Private collection.
Ba Ling Chui is a mace with a polyhedral mace head. Despite its name, the mace head usually has more than eight geometric edges. It was the most common mace type in China after Suan Tou Gu Duo.

Flanged Mace
Ming Chinese flanged mace
A pair of late Yuan/early Ming period flanged maces discovered in the tomb of  Ming general Kang Mao Cai (康茂才).
Chinese flanged mace is even rarer than Ji Li Gu Duo. Most likely introduced by the Mongols, it shows very clear influence of Indo-Persian Shashpar mace.

Ceremonial Mace
Chinese Ceremonial Mace
Two ceremonial maces, from 'San Cai Tu Hui (《三才圖會》)'.
Ceremonial mace, often with exaggerated and hollowed mace head, is often called Jin Gua Chui (金瓜錘, lit. 'Golden gourd hammer' or 'Pumpkin hammer'). It can be divided into Li Gua (立瓜, standing gourd) and Wo Gua (臥瓜, crouching gourd), depending on the mace head orientation.

Other variations of ceremonial mace were also used.

A fine quality mace, probably ceremonial. Private collection.


  1. Any dimensions for these weapons? I've seen some in artwork which seem to be short enough to be use single handed, but suspect some may have been larger two handed articles.

  2. @clibinarium

    Most Chinese (and maces from other cultures, for that matter) maces that I am aware of are one-handed.

    Two handed blunt weapons come in the form of Lang Ya Bang (狼牙棒, Wolf's tooth club), and Shu (殳, a mace-spear from Chinese bronze age, no longer used during Ming).

  3. It was probably the Lang Ya Bang I was thinking of.

  4. @clibinarium

    Lang Ya Bang is not too common though, and it looks more like a spiked baseball bat than a mace.

  5. @Clibinarium
    Two-handed maces exist. Recently found the photo of a Jin Dynasty silver mace, and some murals with guards holding two-handed maces.

    1. can i see the pictures?

    2. https://i.imgur.com/l1DpLMh.jpg

    3. which Jin dynasty?
      this Jin:

      or this Jin:


  6. Amazing blog.

    Will there be a blog about hammers in the future? Or is there not enough historical finds for this group of weapons?

    1. If you mean war hammer/horseman's pick, Chinese people in general do not use that (barring a few rare exceptions).

  7. Maces need more love tbh >.>


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