The Korean Peninsula has spawned a variety of bladed weapons over the years, some of which include the straight, doubled sword known as the geom, as well as the larger, double-handed sword known as the Ssangsudo. Many centuries ago, however, Korean bladesmiths began experimenting with alternative types of bladed weapons, one of which is the dangpa. So, what is the dangpa exactly, and what purpose did it serve?
Overview of the Dangpa
Also known as the dang pa, the dangpa is a traditional Korean bladed weapon that features a pronged spear tip. As shown in the photo above, it resembles a trident, typically featuring a long pole with multiple blades at the top.
The dangpa originated sometime during the Joseon Dynasty. It was first described in a Korean martial arts manual published in this era. According to reports, the dangpa was designed using technology imported from China. This makes sense considering that the Korean Peninsula shares a geographical border with China, and it wasn't uncommon for Chinese technology to make its way to Korea as well as China and other surrounding territories.
Purpose of the Dangpa
The dangpa was used primarily as a combat weapon by Korean militaries. With an average height of 7 to 8 feet, its long length made it particularly effective in open, large spaces. Using the dangpa, Korean soldiers could fend off invaders while keeping a safe distance. The downside to the dangpa's long length, though, is that it wasn't effective in closed, small spaces. Therefore, it was a speciality weapon that was only used for certain purposes, such as open-field battles.
The Primary Types of Dangpa
Like other bladed weapons of this era, the dangpa was forged in a variety of designs. Most of these designs, however, include several types. There was the cheolpa dangpa, for example, that featured an iron construction. Both the pole and the spear tips were forged of iron, thereby offering a superior level of strength and performance. Another common type of dangpa was the mokpa. The mokpa dangpa featured a wooden design, making it easier and more cost-effective production.
It's important to note that the spear tips on the mokpa dangpa were made of wood covered in smelted iron. After the wooden spear tips were constructed, iron was applied over them to make the blades stronger and more resilient.