Chinese 1920s Dagger – presented by Chiang Kai-shek

Name Chinese 1920s Dagger – presented by Chiang Kai-shek
Scientific Name
Category Antiques
Origion China

Historical Background

The Nationalist Party of China Army Officer Academy, also known as the Whampoa Military Academy, was the equivalent of West Point Military Academy in China. It was a prestigious military academy that many great generals had graduated. It played a important role in the Chinese history. Not only it trained a lot of famous generals and officers, it also set the influence on both of the Kuomintang’s and Chinese Communist Party’s policies and governance.

Financially supported by the former Soviet Unit, the academy was founded in 1924 by the first president of China, Sun Yat-sen, who many consider as the father of modern China. Sun’s favorite and raising star Chiang Kai-shek was appointed the first principal of the academy, while Liao Zhongkai was appointment as representative and Zhou Enlai, Hu Hanmin, Wang Chiangwei, He Yingqin, and Ye Jiangying were among the instructors as well as Soviet officers such as A. S. Bubnov, G. I. Gilev, M. I. Dratvin, S. N. Naumov; and former Russian White Army officers such as I. Vasilevich, N. Korneev, M. Nefedov, F. Kotov, P. Lunev, V. Akimov, and Galina Kolchugina (wife of Vasily Blyukher, the Commander-in-Chief of all Soviet “volunteer” forces sent to China) also taught classes here.

For Chiang Kai-shek, who assumed the leadership of the Kuomintang after the death of Sun Yat-sen in 1925. He led the national government of Republic of China from 1928 to 1975. Though he had some successes in fighting the war against imperial Japan during the Japan invasion, he failed to control the ever-spreading Communism in China. Eventually, he and the rest of his KMT supporters were forced out China and retreated to Taiwan, where he served as the President of the Republic of China and the Director-General of the KMT for the reminder of his life.

Back in the early 20s, my grandpa returned to China and attended the Whampoa Military Academy. At the time, Chiang Kai-shek was the principal. Upon the completion of courses, my grandpa was presented an exquisite dagger by Mr. Chiang-Kai-shek at the graduation ceremony. Though I never get a chance to see it in person, it was the most beautiful dagger my father had seen before.

When Communist party took over China, however, any association with KMT was consider treason and any valuable items were confiscated. For fearing the association, my grandma destroyed the shell of the dagger and hide the dagger itself somewhere, until one of my aunt turned it in and was melted down.

This was the history I had heard from my father. Each time, upon hearing the ending, I couldn’t help but overcame by a sense of hopeless and hurt. An item with such a historical meaning should become something like a family heirloom. Yet few of us had a chance to even see the item in real life.

Collecting the Dagger

I am not sure how many of these types of knives are available nowadays. Once a while, you can find them either sale online or up for bidding on ebay.

Physical Description

According to my father, the item is inferior to the one my grandpa had once held in terms of its quality and its intricacy. However, it contains similar marking, with the exception of that the other one had inscription that says to my grandpa. Even knowing that it can not replace the one we all lost, somehow it makes me feel that at least I have reserved a part of history with me for possessing this knife. On the shell of the dagger, it says "Prsented by Jiang ZhongZhen". Jiang ZhongZhen is the formal name of Chiang Kai-shek. There is a number on the body of dagger. I am not sure what does it mean (serial number?).

The dagger, including sheath, is about 13.75 inches. The sheath is about 9.375 inches, and the blade is about 8.65 inches long and 0.875 wide. The inscription is craved on teh front side of the handle along with decorative Nationalist party symbols. The whole thing weights about 8.8 oz.