This Yanmaodao, the Goosequill saber, has a sharp blade crafted from the melding and folding of three different high carbon steels; 1095, 1080 and 1060. This folding of the blade during forging leaves a vibrantly visible ripple-like pattern on the blade. Historically much of Chinese swordsmithing was done by folding steel – a process done to refine the steel to combine steels of varying hardnesses and properties into a single blade.
The dragon-head blade collar, guard and hilt fittings are of antiqued brass. The wooden grip has rayskin over it and was overlaid with elaborately knotted blue cord. The sword is paired with a scabbard of carved wood with brass fittings and a hanging cord of red-brown cord.
Like it cousin the Liuyedao, the Yanmaodao has a curved blade to give it enviable cutting and slashing abilities. This curve is not as pronounced with the more subtle and gentle curvature of the Yanmaodao as the form of the Yanmaodao sacrifices some optimization of cutting for a straighter blade with a less pronounced upward tip to give it a greater degree of thrusting ability. It typically had a straighter grip as well – a type that better accentuates the thrusting technique by allowing greater control of the tip.
Though the sword has opted for a compromise of thrusting and cutting, its cutting ability is not to be understated. The curve of the blade is more than enough to execute decisive slashes. A cross section of the blade reveals a spine that gracefully terminates at a gentle angle to the edge. This minimizes resistance at the cutting edge as the blade passes through the target making it a more efficient cutter.
While not as widespread historically as the Liuyedao, the Yanmaodao was still a common sword style in China; its earliest examples date to the medieval Ming dynasty and the style largely persisted until the close of the 18th century.