Twin Peaks Khitani Greatsword (LK Chen Liao Dao) Review Aug 22, 2022 19:13:40 GMT
Post by Kane Shen on Aug 22, 2022 19:13:40 GMT
The twin-peak style greatswords hailing from northern China used by the Khitani people have caught the imagination of the historical reproduction scene recently. The Khitans were the first nomadic people finding success taking large swath of land from the Han ethnic Chinese to form the first nomadic imperial dynasty--the Liao Dynasty (916-1125AD).
These intimating broad-bladed swords have been discovered all over northern China in Khitani burials usually as a pair along with a long-bladed single-handed saber. Base on the 3:2 blade-to-hilt proportion, and the records of Khitani military history, I speculate that this style of sword was used by the hand-picked elite companion troops of Khitani emperors, clad in heavy steel lamellar armor.
Despite the Khitani people's tendency to rely on heavy cavalry, I don't think this kind of sword was used as cavalry swords, but in close-quarter foot combat primarily, while the lightweight yet long-bladed single-handed sabers were used from horseback. The lack of reach from the 30" (76cm) blade is compensated by the protection and coverage offered by the heavy armor. The blade is broad at the base, but tapers even upward to over 60cm at both clip points (the twin peaks), and features a very durable convex grind from 1/3 of the blade width from the spine, forming a rather deep bevel to a very sharp apex at the edge. No secondary bevel is present and the convex grind is blended into the flat area of the blade below the spine without any shoulder, resulting in exceedingly smooth cut on both soft and hard targets. The cutting performance also comes partially from the great heft, as the sword weighs a whopping 5.22 lbs (over 2300g) with a 50" overall length.
Another unique feature recreated perfectly is the huge flat plate guard and pommel. The papaya-shaped hand guard is much larger than the disk guards found on swords all over Asia of the same and later periods. The huge gourd-shaped pommel is a plate much thinner than the wheel pommels on European swords, yet still provide ample counterweight to the hefty blade. Both the guard and pommel are heat blued.
While it's an authentic reproduction of a unique historical sword design, the fit and finish can be improved, especially for its $450 price point. The large guard and pommel have sharp burrs and the edges are not polished smooth, therefore possible to cause some minor injury or at least discomfort during cutting unless the user wears thick clothing or armor. The ferrule under the disk guard came loose although it doesn't negatively impact handling much. The grip is thick naked rose wood, without any cord or leather wrap. The large circumference and smooth surface makes it a little slippery during handling, but edge alignment isn't difficult as the grip has an oval cross section. The steel bolster has a small gap where it meets the blade, and yet another gap where it joins the disk guard, although the jacketing the base of the blade tightly without any opening.
Both the edge and the hilt remain pristine during all the cutting including an abusive test where I chopped down a small tree. However, the stacked leather style sheath caused some rust spots on the blades even when it was well oiled. The sheath is floppy and lacks any retention. It slides down to the clip point when you turn the sword upside down, and expose about a foot of the blade. The sheath clearly needs to be redesigned and crafted better, which is a rare incident for LK Chen swords, as they usually come with high-quality wooden core scabbard with lacquered decorations, or rayskin wrapping.
Overall it is a well-built and faithful reproduction of an unique historical sword, with a few minor aspects of fit and finish need to be adjusted.