The idea of the Hmong sword derived from the weapon used by the Hmong tribe, but they didn't have any sword of their own. In battles or combat fights, the Hmong people used to carry knives. Even women carried knives for safety reasons. And through Hmong sword, Hmong knife is basically referred to.
The knife is neither short like a dagger nor long like a proper sword. The Hmong bladesmiths used to construct the blade with steel and handle with pine wood. There’s a detailed discussion available in the upcoming segments in the article. They also used sheathe to cover the sword or knife.
What is the Hmong sword?
It is a small sword, which is mostly referred to as a Hmong knife, and the Hmong people forged these swords for their regular use. The robust and strong structure of the knife made it appropriate for various purposes at that time. They used several materials to construct the blade of the knife.
The hand-forged knife has a sharpened blade with a tip designed at the end. The shape and the classic design make it similar to the swords. However, the Hmong community rarely used swords and most of the time they relied on this small sword. But because of the design and structure, it is known as a Hmong knife; rather than a Hmong sword.
History of Hmong swords
Hmong sword or knife is similar to the knives used in Southern China a hundred years back. The design and idea of this sword derived from the Southern Chinese knife. This is probably the main reason, why Hmong people fancy calling it Knife over the sword.
- Hmong people forged an all-purpose knife, which is different from the local knives. Because of the difference in style, they could use the knives for various purposes.
- Although the idea of this sword came from Chinese knives, the Hmong gave a gorgeous look to their knives.
- From Sothern China, the Hmong moved to the Southeast region of Asia in the mountains of Laos.
- The forging of their small swords was still on after the shifting as well.
- Although they didn’t have their own sword design, they followed the sword design of Southeast Asia swords.
- In combat fights or battles, the knives were still their primary choice in terms of a religious point of view.
- Not only men, but Hmong women also used to carry knives instead of Hook axes.
- Besides Hmong knives, the community had a good hand at handling hook axes.
What is a Hmong sword's blade made of
Well, it was pretty difficult for the Hmong people to collect and choose the right metal to forge the blade of their swords at that time. For this, they relied on various metals to bring a strong construction of the sword blade. There are some crucial factors about the blade construction of Hmong swords one needs to know about.
- Most of the time the sword's maker of the Hmong community used various scrap metals and sometimes they used chained steel shackles to forge the blade.
- However, one type of carbon steel from leaf spring was the most appropriate and also supposed to be the strongest material to forge the blade.
- Hmong knife blades mostly measure somewhere between 8 to 10 inches. However, the overall length of the knife was 13 to 14 inches approximately.
- Most of the time, the blade used to be about 0.1 inches thick. But the thickness varied from the tip area to the hilt area of the blade.
- After finishing the forging process, the makers used to sharpening the blade edges by heat treatment again. It would result in a sharpened Hmong knife.
They finish off the process by giving a final polish on the blade surface for a smoother design. And for the process, they used wet stones, and usually, the stones had a different level of coarseness.
What about the hilt of Hmong swords
A proper grip of a small or long sword depends on the design, and structure of the hilt. Hmong people also knew it and the hilt of their swords with quality ensured materials.
- The sword doesn’t come with a traditional oval-shaped hilt; rather it has a round-shaped one.
- As the overall length of the sword is not more than 14 inches, the hilt measures around 4 to 5 inches in length.
- The hand-crafted hilt comes with pine wood construction, which was the easiest material to find and also ensures the strongest construction.
- Sometimes, the makers used to put on copper bands over the pine hilt. This actually makes the grip stronger on the sword and eliminates any chances of slippage as well.
To put the blade and the hilt together, the Hmong used one type of epoxy then. This natural glue was made from animal hooves and different tree sap. It provides a strong and secure structure. Also, you can replace it if anyhow the blade or hilt gets damaged.
Is there any sheath used in Hmong swords
Yes, Hmong swords have a sheath and like the other parts of the sword, it is also hand-made. The main purpose of the sheath is to protect the user from the sharpened edge and tip of the sword when he is wielding it.
- The makers used pine to construct the sheath, which is a similar material used to construct the hilt of the sword.
- It covered the whole blade, not the hilt part. So the length of the sheath is proportional to the length of the blade that ranges from 8 to 10 inches.
- They used wood glue from tree sap to attach the parts of the sheath before making it fully ready for use.
Even after using the best possible materials to construct the sheath, they weren’t durable or long-lasting. They were prone to rain, heat, humidity. And soon they got damaged due to climate change. This leads the user to replace the damaged sheath with a newer one.
If you want to know more about of Cold Steel Polish Saber, see our next article.
What are Hmong swords used for
Hmong swords are shorter in length but not shorter than daggers. But because of their shorter length, they are known as Hmong knives mostly instead of Hmong swords. The swords used to be useful in various ways to the Hmong people.
- Hmong swords can carve woods with sharpened edge blades.
- The center of the sword is a better option for chopping and slicing.
- It is used to be an appropriate option for combat fights among the Hmong community.
- If you want to crack nuts or something hard like this, this sword can still come in handy.
- It is also a great small sword or knife for hunting and killing.