27 November 2015

Axes of the Ming Dynasty

While not as common as sword, spear, bow or gun, axe remained an important weapon in Ming arsenal. For the most part, Chinese axes are quite consistent in form, different types of axes are simply minor variations of each other.

Da Fu (大斧, big axe)
Ming Chinese Axe
Drawing of a Da Fu, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Da Fu is the catch-all term for all long shafted axes. Proper names for war axe include Yue Fu (月斧, lit. 'Moon axe'), Kai Shan Fu (開山斧, lit. 'Mountain-openning axe'), Jing Yan Fu (靜燕斧, lit. 'Silent swallow axe'), Ri Hua Fu (日華斧, lit. 'Sun ray axe'), Wu Di Fu (無敵斧, lit. 'Invincible axe') and Chang Ke Fu (長柯斧, lit. 'Long shafted axe'), but all are essentially different names for the same thing.

E Mei Qu (峨嵋鑺, lit. 'Emei axe')
Ming Chinese axe
Drawing of a E Mei Qu, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
E Mei Qu has a three chi long shaft and nine cun long edge. It is used by sappers.

Feng Tou Fu (鳳頭斧, lit. 'Phoenix head axe' or 'Phoenix crested axe')
Drawing of a Feng Tou Fu, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Feng Tou Fu has a two chi five cun long shaft and an axehead with Chinese phoenix motif. It is also used by sappers.


  1. Hi! This is the book I did mention in my reply to your post on my blog; have a look, do you think they look Chinese? ( Sorry for the low quality and small dimension but that's all I have unfortunately)

    1. The axes in that picture do appears to be similar to Chinese ones.

      ALso, the kanji for both Ono and Masakari are also the Chinese word for axe, read as Fu(斧) and Yue(鉞) respectively. Although Yue has become largely obsolete.

    2. It won't be a big surprise if some Chinese war axes would have ended in Japan due to trading and Wokou. Thank you for clarifying my suspects ;)

  2. interesting, does this kind of weapon also used back during Han dynasty?


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