Traditional Weaponry

Chinese Traditional Weaponry

The development of ancient weaponry in china can be divided into two stages those pre, and those post the invention of gun powder in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Weapons without gunpowder, usually referred to as cold weapons such as bow, sword & dagger, for example; the ones using gunpowder referred to as fire weapon. Prior to the development of fire weapons, cold weapons evolved during three distinct periods, namely, the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages, and represents the technological, social and philosophical development of Chinese peoples.

Iron and Bronze swords of the Warring States Period (476BC - 221BC)
Iron and Bronze Swords
Iron Cannons
Iron Cannons
In ancient China, many generals, and philosophers who were interested in this field had noted the benefits and pitfalls of various weapons under differing combat scenarios, such as defending, aggressing, tussling, ambushing, and so on.

Today they have become far more than just weapons; they are an integral part of the culture and symbolism of the Chinese people. Related to the weaponry are so many military strategies and legendary Heroes that people are still benefiting from their lessons, or just collecting them as a hobby. Then the appreciation of them became a special knowledge.

Weaponry of Stone Age

Stone Arrowheads
Stone Arrowheads
During the Stone Age, conflictions between rival clans would fight using keen-edged productive and hunting tools. Thus, the development rudimentary weapons had begun. The earliest weapons utilized may well have been the bow or spear as these would be readily available for hunting. In archaeological studies, a grave was uncovered with a body whose skeleton, penetrated by a bone arrowhead illustrates the transfer from tool to weapon.

In that age, stone axes were very popular tools and amongst the earliest weapons. It evolved over millennia becoming thinner, sharper, and harder culminating in the Tomahawk or throwing axe. It was not only a popular weapon but also a symbol of social status. A jade tomahawk discovered in the tomb of a noble proves that at that early time artisans are already producing ceremonial weaponry - on its upper corner is the carving - an immortal riding Tigerlike beast, and on the lower corner was the pattern of a bird.

Background Knowledge of Stone Age:

The Stone Age is so named because it was the period of human technological development where all tools were made of stone. As the times progressed and society evolved, the development of stone tools improved steadily. Thus, according to the shape and complexity of these tools, the Stone Age has been divided into three parts - the Paleolithic Age, the Mesolithic Age and the Neolithic Age.

Stone Bolas, Bow and Bone Arrowheads
Stone Bolas, Bow and Bone Arrowheads
During the Stone Age people were able to make textile goods and pottery, and they developed farming and animal husbandry, which allowed them to remain living in one place.

The Paleolithic Age refers to the stage of human cultural development marked by the use of chipped stone tools. This age extends over a long period of time from about 2,500,000 to 10,000 years before the present era. It is generally divided into early, middle and late periods, and correspond approximately the existence of three human species - Homo habilis, Homo erectus, early Homo sapiens and late Homo sapiens.

During this period, people made simple tools mainly for hunting and gathering. Stone weapons were made from different stones. For example, basalt and sandstone were made into sharpening tools. Firestone and chert were used as sharpened weapons or tools. Bones, timber, antlers and shells were also widely used as tools or weapons. The clay was made into pottery.

Peking Man discovered in Zhoukoudian in Beijing was one such Neolithic Man. They used stone weapons and wooden sticks to hunt wild animals and lived mainly in caves and gathered fruit for meals. Marks made from ash, burned bones and stones reflect that people at that time knew how to use fire. Besides Peking Man, the Lantian Man, Yuanmou Man and the Upper Cave Man all lived in this period of time.
Stone Axe
Stone Axe
Bone Awl, Bone Knife, Bone Dagger
Bone Awl, Bone Knife, Bone Dagger
The Mesolithic Age is a time that was about 12,000 years ago. It was the transitional stage from the Paleolithic Age to the Neolithic Age. During this time the Ice Age ended and the climate became warmer. People began to change their way of life. The economy of hunting and gathering underwent a considerable development. It features the appearance of a small instrument composed of firestones. In some regions of the world, stone axes, fishing tools and wooden artifacts like canoes and oars have been discovered.

The New Stone Age is the last period of the Stone Age, defined as the period when sharpened tools were used. During this period of time, people were engaged in farming and animal husbandry. In this period in China, civilizations like Yangshao Culture, Hemudu Culture and Xishiqi Culture appeared.
- Last updated on Aug. 09, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Chinese Traditional Weaponry
Asked by Kat from UKRAINE | May. 20, 2016 09:18Reply
Didn't Chinese make gunpowder?
If they made gunpowder didn't they also make the Iron Cannon!?!
Answers (1)
Answered by Dave | May. 21, 2016 04:06

In ancient time, chinese made both gunpowder and iron cannon. This is for sure.
Asked by cole from GB | Jan. 10, 2016 15:06Reply
what was the most affected weapon in ancient China?
Answers (1)
Answered by Linda from CANADA | Jan. 10, 2016 21:17

Hey, swords and bows were the most influential ones in the past.
Asked by jack from AUSTRALIA | Nov. 02, 2015 20:25Reply
how were ancient chinese weapons made?
swords, axes, bows, Dao, gun as in the staff gun not the pistol gun, Fu and the ji
Answers (1)
Answered by Fiona from AUSTRALIA | Nov. 03, 2015 04:01

Long long ago, people just sharpened stones and turned into stone ax and arrows etc. After they mastered metal technology, they started to use bronze and iron to forge swords and other weapons.
Asked by Dylan Coffey | Mar. 18, 2015 07:42Reply
why does the ancient china use their crossbow?
Answers (1)
Answered by mttt from NAMIBIA | Mar. 19, 2015 12:54

They needed it for a long ranged weapon so they would have a lower risk of dying
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