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Thread: Please need help: What kind of Dao, how old?

  1. #1

    Please need help: What kind of Dao, how old?

    Dear Sword-Masters!

    Do you know what kind of Dao that is? How old is it and what kind of Dao is it?

    Thank you for your information.

    Best, RaTo
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  2. #2

    Dao

    ...more pictures...
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  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I'm no expert on chinese weapons, but to me, this, from the close up of the blade, looks very much like a 20th century imitation/reproduction. If so, they are usually made in China or nearby, and are of little value and often unsafe for practical use.

    Sorry to dissappoint.
    Dear Jon,

    Please learn to parry.

    Love,

    Your Innards x

    The Exiles

  4. #4

    ..

    Hello there,

    Thank you for your opinion concerning that Dao. I think it has a damascus blade. It is very sharp and I think it is an old blade with fittings from the 30ies. Isn't it so?

    Best, RaTo

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raffael T. View Post
    Hello there,

    Thank you for your opinion concerning that Dao. I think it has a damascus blade. It is very sharp and I think it is an old blade with fittings from the 30ies. Isn't it so?

    Best, RaTo
    The grain of the metal looks far too coarse to be damascus/wootz to my eyes. Sharpness is no indication of authenticity, I'm afraid. I can't comment on the fittings, as I lack the specialist knowledge.

    Mine is only one opinion, others may well have different ideas.
    Dear Jon,

    Please learn to parry.

    Love,

    Your Innards x

    The Exiles

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by J. Freeman View Post
    The grain of the metal looks far too coarse to be damascus/wootz to my eyes.
    Well the blade is obviously pattern welded as clearly seen in the close-up. It doesn't need to be wootz to be pattern welded and i think it would probably be unusual to find these with wootz blades anyway. The blade appears old, but from my limited experience with Chinese weapons that is rarely a good indicator. Hopefully one of the resident experts here can tell you more Either way it is an attractive dao with what appears to be a decent, hand-forged blade and some very attractive fittings. The question of authentic age however could bring about a completely different answer though.

  7. #7

    Dao

    new pictures...
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  8. #8

    Dao

    Would be still very interested in opinions of sword-experts!

    Best, RaTo

  9. #9

    Dao

    No further ideas?

  10. #10

    Dao!

    ...new pictures... Thank you for your opinions....
    Attached Images Attached Images      

  11. #11

    Lightbulb A composite liuyedao, with an antique blade.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raffael T. View Post
    No further ideas?
    Hi Raffael,

    Your Chinese dao is a type of peidao (waist saber) referred to as liuyedao. This means willow leaf saber. From the photographs, the blade appears to be dating from the late-late 18th century to the early-to-mid 19 century. Of course, it is difficult to commit to this assessment from a handful of pictures. Seeing the tang would clarify much of this somewhat generalized guesstimation and that is not an easy task to accomplish, without removing the hilt.

    This is what's called a "composite piece". The blade is an authentic antique blade and the scabbard & fittings are high-quality replacements. Especially with Chinese steel weapons, unmounted blades abound in large numbers. I have a few theories as to just why this is but I won't bore you all with my dissertations (unless, of course, someone should ask).

    Now, the older the Chinese sword, the higher the likelihood that the hushou (guard), pommel, scabbard mounts, etc... would be crafted in iron. Often blackened but sometimes gilded, especially by high-ranking officers and the Nobility. Iron is a highly corrosive metal, for sure. Sometimes the blades outlive the original wooden scabbard and the iron fittings, sometimes they don't. I have owned, sold, seen or handled several early-to-mid Qing Dynasty swords, which were re-mounted in the latter Qing era or the 20th century. Brass is much more prevalent towards the close of the Dynastic era and prevalent on most, if not all, Republican era swords.

    That being said, even 100-120 year old brass fittings show more genuine aging (patina) and/or wear than this dao's set indicates. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not slamming this dao as a fake, rather... I am honestly assessing the various parts of the whole and dating them to the best of my experience.

    Perhaps Josh Stout Will stop by and comment? You could also enlist the opinions of the experts oat the Great river Taoist Center forum? Sifu Scott Rodell, Philip Tom and Peter Dekkar are very skilled in this area of study. I'm really just the water-boy on the team.


    The brass fittings do look mid-to-late 20th century, as does the scabbard and it's psychedelic "lacquer". No antique Chinese swords ever had this kind of finish to the scabbard's wood but it is handsome, after all. It's just not historically accurate. Note the visible wood showing within the scabbard throat? Old wood is often very dried-out, shrunken and cracked looking around the mouth of the scabbard. I would say this is a well-mounted antique blade, with an artistically crafted package. They appear to be from two distinct time periods.

    Now this doesn't mean that this sword is something of an impostor, since two of the finest blades I have ever owned, have had contemporary brass mounts (including a fantastic horse-tooth pattern liuyedao, which I had to sell for the sake of survival). Again, there are very specific reasons many of these fine, unmounted blades are either bare or re-mounted with authentically crafted furniture. My advise would be to register at the GRTC forum and upload this thread in this specific area:

    http://forum.grtc.org/viewforum.php?...54652c5c4c04e6

    Arrivederci, Jon
    "A wise person aspires the study of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy teacher, an unlucky person finds yet another student... in the guise of a genuine Master. Sadly, a fool cannot tell the difference either way." Anecdotes of The Unknown Swordsman

  12. #12
    I am a bladesmith, but sadly new to Chinese blades. I can tell that what you have is a well-made sword of layered construction, and the blade appears more than 100 years old. I can't add anything about the mountings.

    But - that is a very nice antique blade.

    Kevin

  13. #13

    Thank you!!!

    Hello Jon and Kevin

    I thank you both very much for your interesting and competent information concerning my antique liuyedao, great to receive such coments. They are very useful for me and my collection. Yes, I think, too, that it is a swort from the Qing (fittings from the 30ies?) with a unusual blade (horse-tooth pattern). An other expert informed me, that the "psychedelic" lacqueur is made in an old and rare technique that was used in the Tang-dynasty!

    Many thanks and all the best, Raffael
    Last edited by Raffael T.; 10-24-2010 at 06:22 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raffael T. View Post
    An other expert informed me, that the "psychedelic" lacqueur is made in an old and rare technique that was used in the Tang-dynasty!
    If it is that old, it's in incredible condition - but all things are possible...
    Dear Jon,

    Please learn to parry.

    Love,

    Your Innards x

    The Exiles

  15. #15

    Dao

    Quote Originally Posted by J. Freeman View Post
    If it is that old, it's in incredible condition - but all things are possible...

    It's not a question of the age here. The Technique is the subject and it was used in those days

    Best, Raffael

  16. #16
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    The technique is also used by competent fakers today. It is extremely difficult to tell its authenticity from photos. What is its provenance?

  17. #17

    Dao

    Hello there, I bought it from a dealer in Hamburg, Mr. Christopher Wu (martial artist). Do you know him?

    Best, Raffael


    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Howard View Post
    The technique is also used by competent fakers today. It is extremely difficult to tell its authenticity from photos. What is its provenance?
    Last edited by Raffael T.; 10-30-2010 at 03:43 PM.

  18. #18
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    No I don't know him but if he can't tell you its provenance then that should be grounds for suspicion by itself.

  19. #19

    Dao

    Hello, it's from James Trehern, GB.

    Best, RaTo


    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Howard View Post
    No I don't know him but if he can't tell you its provenance then that should be grounds for suspicion by itself.

  20. #20
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    So write to him and ask for its provenance. You should have done all this before buying it, unless it was so cheap that its being a fake doesn't really matter.

  21. #21

    fittings on the dao

    Hello Raffael,

    Is the fittings made of brass or bronze?

  22. #22

    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by Hon Cheah View Post
    Hello Raffael,

    Is the fittings made of brass or bronze?

    The fittings are brass. Both, bronze and brass are copper alloys. Brass is copper and zinc. This makes the metal malleable and easy to cast, as it has a lower melting temperature (copper is a bitch). The perfect choice for sword fittings. Bronze is a copper and tin alloy. It is a very hard metal and is a touch brittle. While ancient swords, spear-heads and axes were cast from bronze... it makes for a poor choice, when considering ease of use for relatively contemporary swords.

    I might remind everyone who is following this thread, that the use of brass for sword fittings, was introduced in the early 19th century. Prior to this, iron or steel was used (and I'm talking world-wide). Brass is the kind of metal that makes a distinctive patination. I would date these fittings to post 1980's.

    BTW, the "psychedelic lacquer" was never used in the Tang Dynasty. Frankly,that was sooooooooooooooooooooo long ago that we rarely find any complete scabbards to examine or for that matter, any remnants this kind of this exotic finish. I'm not trying to break Raffael's stones... I just cannot sit idly by and accept this kind of fantasy, being broadcast as fact.

    Hey, it's no crime to remount a fine old antique blade with historically accurate furniture (more or less). Right? The issue I find disturbing, is that sincere collectors have accepted these kinds of deceptions as historical truths. Come on, let the experts assess this piece. I know I sound like a broken record but there are easy avenues to have this piece appraised.

    Later Guys, Jon
    "A wise person aspires the study of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy teacher, an unlucky person finds yet another student... in the guise of a genuine Master. Sadly, a fool cannot tell the difference either way." Anecdotes of The Unknown Swordsman

  23. #23

    Dao

    They're made of brass.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hon Cheah View Post
    Hello Raffael,

    Is the fittings made of brass or bronze?

  24. #24
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    Dismounted blades.

    Hi there, new boy here with a question for Jonpalombi, why do you think there are so many dismounted Chinese blades? I am at present chasing up info on a sword of mine, which appears to be an old blade with downright nasty modern hilt. I hope to post pics tomorrow. The start of a restoration project.

  25. #25

    Lightbulb An interesting question...

    Quote Originally Posted by David R View Post
    Hi there, new boy here with a question for Jonpalombi, why do you think there are so many dismounted Chinese blades? I am at present chasing up info on a sword of mine, which appears to be an old blade with downright nasty modern hilt. I hope to post pics tomorrow. The start of a restoration project.
    Hi David,

    I'm certainly no expert on the subject and I hope Raffael will forgive this departure from the topic of his original thread. I have personally owned a few composite Chinese swords, whose blades were authentic antiques and hilt/scabbard & fittings were 20Th century (l sold off 2 of 'em and still have one left). There seems to be a fair number of these composites in circulation. I assume this piece is one? Although, the blade could also be contemporary. This assessment is best left to the qualified authorities in this filed of study.

    As per your question... IMHO, there are a handful of pertinent causes as to WHY there are so many bare Chinese sword blades. Most of the reasons are cultural/political, rather than any kind of failure to the hilts themselves. That being said, there are multiple examples of Ming Dynasty blades re-mounted in the Qing Dynasty. This might have been because of the steel mountings and the oxidation that can occur, the ravages of time and/or the damages incurred due to use in battle? Or perhaps it was simply a matter of the dominant Manchu fashion prevailing?

    Regardless of circumstances, good quality blades are often found naked and unhilted. In some cases, I would expect they are still awaiting their new furniture? Probably the minority of the bare blades but it could add to the overall possibilities. From everything I have been told, read in books or racked my brains about... it boils down to three primary reasons why this propensity for unmounted Chinese swords blades exists.

    #1. After the the mid-to-latter 19Th century, during the time period directly following the Taiping and Boxer Rebellions, armed groups of martially-inclined civilians were frowned upon; been imprisoned or even executed! In the same way, Chinese martial arts were driven underground and encoded in the myriad forms practice (for health purposes), as well as the Peking Opera. But that's another story...

    So, edged weapons were stripped from the masses by the Government's militayr forces, much in the manner that the Japanese Kampaku Hideyoshi did in the 16Th century, during "The great sword hunt". As steel is a valuable commodity, I suspect that for reasons of practicality, stripping the swords down would make them easier to transport and store for smelting into other purposes.

    #2. At the height of the Japanese aggression, during the Sino-Japanese War, it is a documented fact that the Japanese were searching for steel for their battleship production. Wouldn't it be possible that many Chinese swords were captured/pillaged, as they poured into China? In the same way, the transport of the steel becomes significantly more utilitarian if the mountings were removed. As we all know, the war ended suddenly, with the collapse of the Imperial Army. Is it plausible that many unmounted blades were abandoned, due to this occurrence? Many of the finest antique Chinese swords are being held in Japanese collections, to this day. A culture as devoted to the sword, would hardly dismantle high quality Chinese jian and dao. So ironically, many survive unscathed, due to the invading nation's awareness as to their intrinsic quality. It is my hope that Japanese arms collectors will share some of this history with us all but I digress...

    #3. More recently, during the Cultural Revolution, Mao's Red Guard went door-to-door collecting steel from the masses. As it was explained to me, thousands of woks were taken, farming tools and possibly family heirlooms like swords? Today we take it for granted but steel was a very valuable material in prior times. Sadly, without proper cooking implements, a large population of struggling people were put through even more unnecessary hardship. Tragic.

    Just a few ideas I have kicking around in my head. I would love to hear the ideas of other enlightened members, though.

    Ciao, Jon
    Last edited by jonpalombi; 12-21-2010 at 06:35 PM.
    "A wise person aspires the study of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy teacher, an unlucky person finds yet another student... in the guise of a genuine Master. Sadly, a fool cannot tell the difference either way." Anecdotes of The Unknown Swordsman

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