There are some things I don't understand about the development of Chinese polearms: halberds/dagger-axes

Jun 2012
523
According to some scholars I have seen on a few forums, the famous halberds/dagger-axes of old were largely relegated to ceremonial duties by later dynasties - being replaced by the more popular, single-bladed (whether single-edged or double-edged) 'horse-chopping' polearms.

The explanation seems to be that the 'Ge' - and then the 'Ji' - became appreciably less effective with the rise of the armored cavalry.

With ignorance, I just don't see why this was the case at all:
1. By the time of the Han Dynasty, the two main blades of the 'Ji' were casted as a single unit. In terms of physics, the two blades should actually increase the 'horse-chopping' opportunities of the wielders. Furthermore, like in the diverse continent of Europe, the secondary blades gave the wielders another quick option to hook down the armored riders whenever necessary. While it is true that European halberds were also eventually relegated to ceremonial duties, the weapons were used to take down riders during the (approximately) first 2 hundred years of increased use of full-plate armoring and horse barding.

2. The ''Ji' was so popular that they were even mixed with the traditions of the 'far-South' of China. In the picture below, the polearm 3rd place from the right (or 5th place from the left) and next to the 'Pi' is called the 'Yue Ji'.

In the terrains where infantry/marine fighting should be dominant throughout history, the halberd made sense and should not have gone out of style with population shifts towards the South; even in the wider Western world (after the Age of Discovery), the halberd remained very efficient for boarding action until the arrival of the much later stages of firearms development.

Is there anything you would like to point me towards for corrections?
 
Dec 2012
446
could price have something to do with it? I mean its probably more expensive then a regular spear considering the amount of metal needed
 
Jan 2016
611
United States, MO
Ji still saw some use but were favored less over time and things like pi (depicted on the second from right in pic) or dao polearms came to the forefront. There could be a few reasons.

For one, the dagger ace was made to catch charioteers and pull them off the chariot. Or to attack infantry as one rides by on a chariot. That is the origin of the horizontally extended blade which became the ji. The big problem with a spike is that it can easily get stuck, but with a long partisan or glaive like blade, one can simply let the enemy slide off the blade, and this reduces the risk of losing your weapon.

Also, holding a sharp blade out in front of a horses legs as it gallops by could fairly easily disable the horse and throw the rider to the ground. And most horse armor doesn’t cover the horses legs so this would be a viable option much of the time.

And, weapons like glaives may have done good enough against most armor anyway, especially in the thrust. During the Tang and Song some blunt weapons such as two-handed maces or 骨朵 became more prominent. And of course, spears saw constant use across time.
 
Jun 2012
523
could price have something to do with it? I mean its probably more expensive then a regular spear considering the amount of metal needed
That might have been the case, albeit the iconic 'Fangtian Ji' (polearm on the utmost right) was still being made after the ancient 'Ji'. With my guesstimation, the 'Fangtian Ji' seems to require more metal than many versions of the traditional 'Ji'.
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Jun 2012
523
Ji still saw some use but were favored less over time and things like pi (depicted on the second from right in pic) or dao polearms came to the forefront. There could be a few reasons.
Yes, I do understand why the Ji would become less favorable, but not to the same degree as implicated in the Donghai Military Inventory (which is located in/near Southern China). In the inventory, there were 451,222 'Pi' sword-staffs in comparison to only 6,634 'Ji' polearms!!!!
Contrast this with Europe, where halberds like the bill hooks were used as one of the main weapons of the Irish rebels in the 1700s!

For one, the dagger ace was made to catch charioteers and pull them off the chariot. Or to attack infantry as one rides by on a chariot. That is the origin of the horizontally extended blade which became the ji. The big problem with a spike is that it can easily get stuck, but with a long partisan or glaive like blade, one can simply let the enemy slide off the blade, and this reduces the risk of losing your weapon.
I agree that one of the primary reasons why the Chinese halberds were created was due to the dominance of the chariot (the other -speculated- reason is that the muscles used for swinging spikes were likely very well developed amongst the farming populace that would be conscripted into the army). However, spiked halberds were still very much useful against cavalry in many places throughout diverse Europe. I just don't understand why the disparity in numbers between the 'Pi' and the 'Ji' would be so large in China.
 
Nov 2019
53
Solar System
I guess it had a lot to do with the use of chariots. The Ge dagger-ax and Ji halberd had arisen with chariot warfare, and after the decline of chariots, they too had declined. With cavalry warfare, it's much easier to use a long spear or lance on horseback and perform a classic cavalry charge than trying to hook someone off his horse.
 
Jan 2016
611
United States, MO
Also, spiked polearms don’t see use in Europe until after 1000 AD. Things like the Dane Axe existed before than, but that is not the same as a halberd. The romans and many armies of the early middle age Europe lacked halberds and did fine. The rise of spiked polearms in Europe correlates with the development of plate armor. And even then, things like spears, glaives, and bill hooks were very prevalent.

In China things like glaives and hook spears took precedent over the halberd, and the halberd itself morphed into a spear with a axe blade as opposed to the spear and ge combo. Hooks, blades, spears, and sometimes hammers or maces served medieval Chinese armies well and horizontal spikes weren’t advantageous enough to supplant other designs.
 
Jan 2016
611
United States, MO
Additionally, while the Donghai Inventory can be helpful for studying the Han dynasty. It doesn’t mean as much for other periods where the ratios of which polearms were most prevalent would have changed. The Han were mostly fighting opponents who either didn’t have access to much armor or wore leather lamellar. The Pi and Dao pole weapons would have easily inflicted damage on the enemy.
 
Dec 2012
446
Additionally, while the Donghai Inventory can be helpful for studying the Han dynasty. It doesn’t mean as much for other periods where the ratios of which polearms were most prevalent would have changed. The Han were mostly fighting opponents who either didn’t have access to much armor or wore leather lamellar. The Pi and Dao pole weapons would have easily inflicted damage on the enemy.
Speaking of the Donghai arsenal inventory why were there 500 dagger -axes made of bronze there? were they for ceremonial purposes or just some left over antiques from the warring states? I mean by then the dagger-axe should have been replaced by the Ji at that time