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Old 14th January 2021, 05:33 PM   #1
bvieira
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Default Chinese Gekken (half moon) pole arm

This pole harm, from the qing dinasty was used by the chinese imperial army infantry to take down cavalry enemies from their horses. Measuring 220 cms would be a fantastic weapon, does anybody know of images/video of this kind of weapon being used ? Maybe some chinese movie ? would like to know more information.

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Old 15th January 2021, 05:42 AM   #2
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As far as I am aware these were used by civilians, and were not a military pattern. They have an equivalent in 16th-17th cent. Europe, where they were commonly known as demilune or "half moon". There is a Spanish example in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection.
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Old 15th January 2021, 10:22 AM   #3
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Philip, do you recall the key word/s to locate such example at the Met ?
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Old 15th January 2021, 10:29 AM   #4
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Bruno, do you mean to say that the term 'Gekken' is the name of this weapon ?
Apparently this is (also ?) the name of some form of Fencing art.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gJWs4z5nfA



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Old 15th January 2021, 11:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Bruno, do you mean to say that the term 'Gekken' is the name of this weapon ?
Apparently this is (also ?) the name of some form of Fencing art.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gJWs4z5nfA



.


Hello Fernando thats information i got from a book! the "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weaponry" the book is available online at this url:

https://issuu.com/moseleyroadinc/do...ponry_lowres/20

From my understading gekken means "half moon" in chinese, but there is litle information about this in english, there must exist in chinese!

BV
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Old 15th January 2021, 11:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
As far as I am aware these were used by civilians, and were not a military pattern. They have an equivalent in 16th-17th cent. Europe, where they were commonly known as demilune or "half moon". There is a Spanish example in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection.


Hello,

I think the civil model you are talking about is a diferent and its usualy refered as the "Monk’s Spade", it has the half moon design but is smaller and very sharp, its also less well contructed that this one, this one is very solid, big and the main objective is not to cut but take down enemies from horses.

Some pictures of the "monks spade"
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Old 15th January 2021, 12:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bvieira
Hello Fernando thats information i got from a book! the "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weaponry" the book is available online at this url:

https://issuu.com/moseleyroadinc/do...ponry_lowres/20

From my understading gekken means "half moon" in chinese, but there is litle information about this in english, there must exist in chinese!

BV

I have looked into that link before i posted my question, Bruno. But as i saw plenty other links appointing to gekken being sword fencing, i realized the caption in the picture was wrong, as so often happens.
But i may be wrong, of course.


.

Last edited by fernando : 15th January 2021 at 01:03 PM.
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Old 15th January 2021, 12:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
I have looked into that link before i posted my question, Bruno. But as i saw plenty other links appointing to gekken being sword fencing, i realized the caption in the picture was wrong, as so often happens.
But i may be wrong, of course.


I understand! unfortunately i dont know chinese so i'am unable to check and confirm the real name, sometimes like in portuguese some words have diferente meanings, so if that is the case it´s normal in a search engine to find the most well used meaning.

What i know from consulting some old chinese books and by watching the draws (since i dont read chinese) is that this is indeed a imperial army weapon that is reported to exist at least since the ming dinasty, ofcourse my example is not ming, its certain qing dinasty.

Regards,

BV
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Old 15th January 2021, 12:44 PM   #9
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Default Monks spade

Those pictures are curious, as the Monks device is supposed to have a half moon in one end and a spade (shovel, pá in Portuguese) in the other.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monk%27s_spade.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1Aag-GTFtI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKWHoVRKVM8

But then, i may be wrong again.


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Old 15th January 2021, 12:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bvieira
... What i know from consulting some old chinese books and by watching the draws (since i dont read chinese) is that this is indeed a imperial army weapon that is reported to exist at least since the ming dinasty, ofcourse my example is not ming, its certain qing dinasty...

Duly noted .
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Old 15th January 2021, 02:05 PM   #11
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In the "Wubei Zhi" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wubei_Zhi) there is a reference to this kind of weapon, but this book was done in 1621 and patterns and names change with time, but this is clear indication that the imperial army use this kind of weapons.

There is also a reference to the "spade", that as said earlier and pointed by Fernando in the monks version usualy has a shovel.

We can clearly see that these are 2 diferent weapons, one acts more like a cutter and other is a long pole arm, wich i believe has used to go against cavarly enemies, but this is a subject open to discussion and this is only my humble opinion by reading and seeing the very few documents i found.

BV
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Old 15th January 2021, 04:19 PM   #12
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An interesting blog; and apparently one with significant knowledge.

https://greatmingmilitary.blogspot....nt=161069358338.

(scroll down to spades).


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Old 15th January 2021, 06:58 PM   #13
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Default clearing up the terminology

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Bruno, do you mean to say that the term 'Gekken' is the name of this weapon ?
Apparently this is (also ?) the name of some form of Fencing art.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gJWs4z5nfA



.


The term "gekken" is irrelevant to the weapon under discussion:
1. The word is Japanese and is literally "moon sword".
2. In Chinese the label "sword" is never applied to these weapons, they are usually regarded as a form of "spade" (chan ) and the common term is yuechan or moon spade.
2a. In Chinese usage, "sword"(jian) belong in their own class, double edged and straight. (the Japanese ken and Vietnamese kiem are the same word.) Curved single edged blades (like sabers) are in the class dao , (literally, knives). The Japanese word means the same thing. In the medieval dynasties there was some blurring as applied to some polearm heads, but curved blades of any kind were never jian.
3. The weapon itself is not characteristic of Japan's martial arts tradition though it may have seen limited use in Okinawa which was at one time closely linked to China politically and culturally.

So Fernando, I tend to agree that gekken probably relates to some Japanese system of fencing.

Last edited by Philip : 15th January 2021 at 07:39 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 15th January 2021, 07:02 PM   #14
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Default Met Museum catalog keywords

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Philip, do you recall the key word/s to locate such example at the Met ?


Nando, I first became aware of the example in the Met by way of Stone's Glossary... page 276, under the entry "Half Moon, Demilune" . So try Half Moon in the Met's online catalog search engine. If no-go, maybe "Medialuna" since the example is attributed to Spain.
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Old 15th January 2021, 07:10 PM   #15
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https://www.museodelprado.es/colecc...c0-9ce631cd5382 In the upper left corner of the picture there is a very interesting Spanish or Neopolitan pole weapon.
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Old 15th January 2021, 07:23 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
... So Fernando, I tend to agree that gekken probably relates to some Japanese system of fencing...

Thank you for the enlightening, Filipe .
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Old 15th January 2021, 07:27 PM   #17
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Default it gets complicated

Quote:
Originally Posted by bvieira
In the "Wubei Zhi" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wubei_Zhi) there is a reference to this kind of weapon, but this book was done in 1621 and patterns and names change with time, but this is clear indication that the imperial army use this kind of weapons.

There is also a reference to the "spade", that as said earlier and pointed by Fernando in the monks version usualy has a shovel.



BV


Thanks, Bruno, for posting the pics. The text is an 11th cent. military encyclopedia, Wujing Zongyao It has a plethora of polearms, which scholars like David Nicolle have commented that such a wide variety was unusual in any military context, and the fact that there were later editions of the work in which drawings of mechanical catapults were inexplicably altered to include cannon barrels in the same designs, lead one to believe whether this work reflects "real" vs "ideal" conditions.

We don't see the huge variety of very specialized pole weapons in later works like the 18th cent. Huangchao Liqi Tushi compiled at the direction of the Qing court, which is a catalog of regulation patterns of all the material accouterments of imperial, civil, and military activity as of 1759. I don't recall seeing spades among the lineup of spears and shaft weapons.

The 16th cent. books on military tactics and training by the Ming general Qi Jiguang have detailed discussion of arms and their deployment, and demilunes were not included. Now it is true that Qi incorporated forces recruited from monasteries in the campaigns against coastal pirates, but their combat skills and weapons were separate from what he prescribed for the regular military units he was in the process of reforming.

Discussion of the weapon is also absent in the late 18th cent. Korean compilation of combat arts, the Muye Dobo Tongji which is heavily indebted to Ming and Qing precedents.

In China and Korea, the spear was considered "king of weapons" on the battlefield. The demilune was certainly useful in specialized contexts, but in the big picture of military operations, versatility and general utility were far more important.
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Old 15th January 2021, 07:29 PM   #18
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Default like peas in a pod

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ren Ren
https://www.museodelprado.es/colecc...c0-9ce631cd5382 In the upper left corner of the picture there is a very interesting Spanish or Neopolitan pole weapon.



Thank you, the Met example is practically identical to the one in this painting.
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Old 15th January 2021, 07:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
Nando, I first became aware of the example in the Met by way of Stone's Glossary... page 276, under the entry "Half Moon, Demilune" . So try Half Moon in the Met's online catalog search engine. If no-go, maybe "Medialuna" since the example is attributed to Spain.

It didn't work either way, Filipe; but it doesn'r matter so much at this stage. Muito obrigado, anyhow.
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Old 15th January 2021, 07:37 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
An interesting blog; and apparently one with significant knowledge.

https://greatmingmilitary.blogspot....nt=161069358338.

(scroll down to spades).


.


Nando, the photos you added are worthy of comment. There is a demilune below a trident, they were separate classes of weapons. In China (as well as Korea and Vietnam) the trident was much more widely used than the demilune, obviously the central spike made it more useful for direct thrusts and ease in trapping an opponent's weapon. Tridents (I don't recall the Chinese name, in Vietnmese it's dinh-ba) can roughly correspond to the use of the spetum in the European martial arts repertoire of roughly the same time period; as you are no doubt familar with, the military writer Pietro Monte had much to say about its utility. And we see many more speta in museums and collections than demilunes probably for that functional reason.
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Old 15th January 2021, 07:41 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ren Ren
https://www.museodelprado.es/colecc...c0-9ce631cd5382 In the upper left corner of the picture there is a very interesting Spanish or Neopolitan pole weapon.

Good shot Ren Ren; the Spanish version of the Media Luna .
(COMBATE DE MUJERES, by José de Ribera, 1636).


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Old 15th January 2021, 07:46 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
... Nando, the photos you added are worthy of comment. There is a demilune below a trident, they were separate classes of weapons...

That was an extra photo i though of adding to those in the blog ... unedited .
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