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Thread: Fittings for a kunjudao

  1. #1

    Fittings for a kunjudao

    Hi,

    I got a Rolling pearls blade. I made a scabbard and added angular style brass fittings, but Im not sure if this style is the proper for this blade. Western collectors say both rounded or angular are fine, but Chinese say angular is not correct. Please tell me your opinion (only if you are sure of the answer, please).

    Thanks!
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  2. #2
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    The only Qing example (pg 168) in "Iron and Steel Swords of China" has angular fittings (at first glance, this is the only example in the book).

    There are two examples in 中国古代钢铁冷兵器巡礼 (Cold Steel in Ancient China - Iron and Steel Parade), both with angular fittings. (One has lost its balls, but the fullering looks spot-on for rolling pearls; there's a 3rd blade, slotted like yours (but with no balls left) but the hilt isn't shown).

    One more probable example in http://www.amazon.com/iron-fire-danc.../dp/7801507142 (no balls left), angular fittings.

    All of those are yanmaodao, so I don't think angular fittings are unusual. From the examples above, angular fittings are normal - I didn't find any non-angular examples. But neither did I find examples other than yanmaodao, and angular fittings on blades curved like yours are less common.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  3. #3
    Hey Timo, what a nice reply!

    As you guess, my doubts about the proper fittings are not because of the fact that this piece is a kunjudao but because its curvature is too prominent.

    You say that "angular fittings on blades curved like yours are less common", but also possible? Im considering to search rounded fittings for this blade. But I will not replace them if I'm certain that some angular style fittings were also mounted on blades of this curvature.

    By the way, there is another interesting sample in Seven Stars: https://www.facebook.com/21908708146...7269420984761/

    Thanks so much!

  4. #4
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    Angular fittings on blades curved like yours are a minority, but a minority of moderate size. I've seen them with both straight and curved grips. The only antique I have with angular fittings is a lightweight liuyedao with curved grip (unusually, it has a jade guard - it's a palace guard officer's sword, late 1800s).

    There are some examples in Philip Tom's "Notable sabers" paper: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1513063
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  5. #5
    Thanks Timo,

    However I admit Im still confused. I would feel quiet if I saw a similar blade with angular fittings, but I did not found it at the moment. All kunjudaos I have seen have angular fittings, but all blades of such curvature have rounded. What should I chose? What a headache!

  6. #6
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    How is this? Curved blade with fangshi fittings (i.e., angular fittings).

    This is from pg 75 in the book cited above, http://www.amazon.com/iron-fire-danc.../dp/7801507142
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  7. #7
    Yeah, but such prominent curvature and this style of blade?... I still have doubts. Please tell me what would you do: which fittings would you put if this blade were yours?

  8. #8
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    How long and heavy is the sword? If it's on the small light side, it's a good candidate for ornamented and/or pierced angular mounts. Fancy officer's sword. Plain angular mounts would work too.

    If it's on the large side, then very fancy mounts, angular or otherwise. VIP's very fancy sword. Perhaps impractical to mount this way.

    In practice, I would perhaps mount with a cylindrical pommel, because that's easiest. But I don't see anything wrong with angular. Angular appears normal for kunju, angular was used for many kinds of blades even if it wasn't the most common style. Yes, you can't have the fittings that were most common with kunju AND with blades of that curvature. But kunju blades are not so common, so why not not-so-common fittings (i.e., angular)? It works, IMO. Kunju blades are mostly early Qing, angular mounts are most common early Qing. If it's mounted as a military officer's sword or government official's dress sword, then angular is the way to go.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  9. #9
    Overall lenght 81cm, blade: 66 cm. I dont know the weight cause I did not weigh it before mounted. Anycase, thanks for your advices. Im gonna keep its current fittings unless I found something that worthwhile.

    Thanks so much!!!

  10. #10
    I think you are doing the right thing. Willow leaf dao like yours are usually later and have yuanshi fittings, but there were earlier willow leaf blades that would have fangshi fittings. The curved tang is also usually found on later blades, so that is consistent, but not definitive.

    So, while I agree with your friends that tell you this blade most likely had yuanshi fittings, there is no reason to say that it couldn't have fangshi fittings, either because it is an early example of a later blade form, or an owner decided that fangshi fittings were more appropriate for the image they wanted to convey.

    There are no absolute rules on dating Chinese things, so I do not think the fittings you chose look anachronistic.

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