Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Chinese bronze swords. 5th-3rd century BC

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    191

    Chinese bronze swords. 5th-3rd century BC

    This thread is a duplicate of a China History Forum (CHF) thread.
    For another earlier discussion of this general type of bronze jian in the East Zhou based on 3 examples see http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/ind...howtopic=13202


    I was able to inspect 9 other bronze jian while in Taiwan which were in the collection of a friend. One of these I purchased and will describe in more detail than the others.


    As shown in art of the East Zhou period, such as the detail from a bronze vessel on the above link, these weapons were close combat blades and such short thrusting swords were carried by troops armed with long polearms such as spears and halberds (mao & ge or ji)).

    The scabbards of such short swords can be seen on the hips of the warriors if the thumbnail .jpeg there is expanded. Other details can also be seen. Where a sword is being used as a primary weapon it is depicted being used in combination with a shield since there would be a free hand. The common depictation however is polearmed warrior with the sword as a secondary weapon.

    When the sword is shown to be dispatching an opponent in a 'coup-de-grace' the method is to grasp the enemies topknot of hair and draw the head down.

    As shown clearly in the Qin terracota warriors (dating from the period after the conclusion of the 'Warring States period') ancient Chinese universally wore the hair atop the head in this fashion. To do otherwise was considered the fashion of a barbarian. Notably one of the Sanxingdui culture bronze heads discovered outside the area of the then central plain 'China' has one head with a distinct long braid down the back of the neck and shoulders in a fashion that would mark them a barbarian peoples in the eyes of ancient Chinese. The dress and appearance of Zhong-guo-ren (central plains Chinese) of the time contrasted with the peripheral 'barbarian' peoples.

    This essentially means on the battlefield between fuedal states of the Zhou at war there is a convenient top knot of hair atop the opponents head as a result of this cultural fashion, despite of course the use of non-Chinese auxiallaries such as the different states did on occasion employ.

    Once you have pulled down the opponents head a strike is delivered, in one case this is shown apparently to be stabbing down inside the neck or collar bone which would sever many important blood vessels. For people who practice martial arts the ability to dominate a person before a strike by controlling the head and neck in a grapple, or by dropping weight to force the head down and control the opponent is employed both in Kubokan traditional karate or Muay Thai, and of course would exist in other systems. It is a bad position to be in. On the ancient Chinese battlefeild pulling of hair was not for girls.....it meant domination and a quick and bloody death.

    A battle scene on another bronze has two warriors with swords gripping an enemy like this;



    A similar scene is also shown on a bronze mirror from the east Zhou period, which has been shown on CHF many times, and the same head grip, and the scabbard on the hip is repeated there.

    For this reason once the fighting got in too close and the spear or halberd formations pressed against the enemy it was time to grapple and draw these nimble and practical short swords.

    The length of these swords is fairly consistent. 45cm or a little longer would be the most common length. Examples over 55cm are rare, and tend if larger than this to take a quite different form ( i.e....long blades without cast hilts that Yang Hong in his text considers a rarer type than the ring hilted or hollow hilted majority, see below for one example** ‘third type’ as per Yang Hong)



    The hollow hilt sword below is 43.5cm long and 4cm wide just above the crossgaurd.



    It is very light, and I would date this in style to Spring and Autumn period.

    The central ridge along the blade is a feature of the first swords that appear in the East Zhou during the Spring & Autumn which predate the later hollow hilt. This same central ridge for strength can be seen on ge (halberds) of the Spring and Autumn period style so I would put this in perhaps the 5th century at least stylistically since it seems to be an early feature.

    The hollow hilt here has an unusal detail which is the pair of paralell small holes cast into the grip on both sides. There are similar to signs of spacers on early Shang wine cups which held the central part of the mold in place during casting. In the early history of the hollow hilt sword (...not an easy sword hilt to cast comparitively to later ring hilts...) perhaps similar spacers were for a time used? The blue patches are areas of repair, probably casting original casting flaws or maybe areas that were treated for bronze disease.



    For whaever reason these holes are not a feature I have seen noted on the more classic style of hollow hilt, such as dated by Jessica Rawson to more typically within the 5th-4th century BC, i.e late Spring and Autumn to early Warring States period.



    There are also the remains of silk cord which was used to cover the grip area. These are quite mineralised and fused with the hilt. The pair of holes can also be seen here.

    Such remains like this silk cord are referred to in one paper on bronze as 'psuedo-forms' as the organic material is now replaced by corrosion produced. A number of terms have been used in discussions but I refer to such imprints as 'mineralised' silk or wood or fabrics etc.



    This inlaid sword below is a rather light and slender sword, but remarkable for the turquoise set on the crossgaurd. This would not be for an ordinary soldier.

    The length is 41.5cm and the width is a slender 3cm.



    The stones have largely been lost to time. I would consider it likely the ancient glue used to set the stones does not always hold for mellenia, yet I have also heard even certain types of soil can cause this stone to dissolve and so be lost.



    The designs on the two sides of the sword are different.



    Taotie style masks, similar to the Liangzhu masks added to jade, are were added to sword gaurds of the late east Zhou.

    There is a small stone set into the pommel also.



    The patina is heavy with a cuprite red colouring and clear traces of wood from the scabbard can be seen along the blade, this can be made out in one of the closer details of the crossgaurd on the blade.
    Last edited by Kenneth Blair; 04-02-2007 at 01:45 AM.
    Tripitaka: 'You should live without fear. There's as much chance of good things as bad things.'
    Sandy: 'It's a cheerful philosophy and I've heard it from people before. They're all dead now though.' (1:4) .

    "The strange fact is that the world goes on against all reasonable odd. A hundred years, and even unimaginable evil is just called history."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    191
    Two 'classic' Warring states period swords with the lozenge rings on the handle were also in this group. The heavy patina on both was quite similar, including azurite blue, but I realized later I forgot to photograph one of them.

    The one pictured is the more broad bladed of the two. This one (below) was 44.5cm in length and 4.5cm wide above the crossgaurd. The other was 42.5 cm long and 4cm wide.



    The patina here on the broader sword shows the botryoidal formation of corrosion products which Tony Allen in his book “Allen’s’ Authentication of Ancient Chinese Bronze” considers a indication of an authentic patina.



    This is the crossgaurd of the 42.5cm sword with a good mix of different minerals & resulting colours. Note the guard is different to the first pictured sword as this is the one I neglected to completely photograph.





    What Yang Hong calls the type of sword with ‘2 round hoops or rings’ on the hilt are labeled differently in different discussions but suffice to say this is the form most associated with the Warring States period. It is worth adding that some swords of this type can occasionally have 3 rings or hoops on the handle.

    Jessica Rawson in ‘Art & Archaeology in Ancient China’ calls this 2 ringed type a “fully developed” sword and dates them to the 4th to 3rd century BC. She notes the hollow hilt persisted longer in southern China. To expand on this other authors chronologies show such dating is convenient but not absolute for the use of hollow hilts or ring hilts as the periods of use overlap. The southern states (i.e; Wu & Yue) are also noted by some authors as enthusiastically employing swords in their armies because of the uneven terrain compared to the central plains. The importance the sword played there is revealed in a number of period legends regarding sword making in these states and also various swords that have been found which are inscribed as being made on the orders of the kings of these states.


    These two corrosion free swords of the same 2 ringed type were lacking in patina but should also be authentic. The shorter slender one was 45cm while the longer was 48cm long. Some bronzes do not develop patina while others can have heavy encrustations. It has to do with burial conditions and soil types. The smaller sword has some nicks to the blade edge, and a few pittings from the original casting on the surface while the larger one had few features to comment on and if not for the integrity of the dealer had little to suggest it was over 2,000 years old.





    This sword here is of the third main type of East Zhou sword, and has no integral hilt and instead has a tang. As typical this is a much larger blade and can be seen here to be 60cm. These swords lack crossgaurds unlike the other swords being used at that time.

    In Yang Hongs’ book “Weapons in Ancient China” he calls this the ‘third type’ & he shows an example of 70cm which would appear to make this type the longest kind of sword in bronze in general use during the late East Zhou.

    Longer & slender examples of bronze swords such as found in the terracotta warrior pits have never been found anywhere else. This is more a feature of the very end of the Bronze Age when long swords of iron drive bronze casters to mimic such lengths while we can be more certain the sort of sword we see here was actually used in the conflicts before the Qin dynasty.

    At the Young museum in Texas another example of this ‘third type’ in the Richard Nable collection is 68.7cm long.

    http://www.youngmuseum.com/the_richa...collection.htm

    This is the sword type which in Yang Hong was referred to as being found in smaller numbers compared to other bronze jian and this is my impression also. (i.e; In the Zhengzhou market as attached at the end of the link given earlier there is only one sword of this type while the photographer in China said he saw so many of the hollow hilt swords at the same antique market he didn’t even photograph half of them).

    On the blade of the ‘third type’ example in my friends’ collection were traces of wood imprinted from contact with a wooden scabbard during burial. This was a very heavy sword, and rather than a purely thrusting & typically smaller jian this has weight to allow for lethal cutting strikes.

    The colour of the blade suggests it includes a high tin content, similar to a ‘white bronze’ when compared to other ‘red’ copper-bronze blades. This makes for a harder and sharper edge, but an increase in brittleness of the bronze.

    For this reason I believe these swords with the resemblance to’ white’ bronze were noticeably heavy and in robust blade width and cross section. They look very durable to me as a result.




    This sword here is a very unusual. This must be an officers or officials sword. The central ridge suggests to me an early Warring States period sword, as it has the 2 rings on the atypical hilt. This then flares out rather more a trumpet-like fashion and on the pommel is a chain link. It is about 46cm long. There is a central ridge along the blade, and Cheng & Dong’s ‘Ancient Chinese weapons’ has a roughly comparable, but plainer, sword amongst a set of line drawings but is not specific where in the late East Zhou this was from.



    Gold gilding on the crossgaurd as seen here also suggests this is not for a common soldier. The crossgaurd is in appearance a little like the bronze slides that were added to iron swords in the late East Zhou and Han periods and so is not the normal form for bronze cast swords..



    The pommel where the chain link is set has a piece of what seems to be glass set into the pommel. The closest I can see to a use of a link of chain like this on an ancient weapon are seven links and a tassel shown on a line drawing of a preserve Liaoning province bronze sword of a different culture (Cheng & Dong)

    Last edited by Kenneth Blair; 04-02-2007 at 01:48 AM.
    Tripitaka: 'You should live without fear. There's as much chance of good things as bad things.'
    Sandy: 'It's a cheerful philosophy and I've heard it from people before. They're all dead now though.' (1:4) .

    "The strange fact is that the world goes on against all reasonable odd. A hundred years, and even unimaginable evil is just called history."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    191
    The sword I purchased was one that stood out amongst the group of Yang Hong’s types ‘1’ & ‘2’ (the first six).

    The sword was more robust and heavier than the others, and of the swords in the first group this was the longest at 49.5 cm and broad at 4.5cm wide.



    I have not yet seen one exactly like this in a text as it has the hollow hilt andthe 2 rings on the same handle.

    I would suspect such a sword may be a rare transitional type, as it doesn’t fit into a classification of ‘3 types’ as both Yang Hong and Cheng and Dong describe the common period sword within. For the sake of speculation then and to borrow Jessica Rawson’s’ model this would be from around the 4th century BC.



    Also visible here is a casting flaw from the time of manufacture, near the mold lines. Various minor flaws on ancient bronzes are not uncommon. Small holes from air in the molten metal can occasionally be seen on surfaces of bronzes when inspected and slight shifting in the mold can leave lines in the bronze that were not always removed in post-cast cleaning and abrasion.



    For comparison in bulk here is a slender hollow hilt sword of 44cm in length and 3.5cm across the guard, as both of my late East Zhou swords on the earlier link are this size. The slender sword weighs 12 ounces, or about 350gm.

    The robust sword weighs 1.5 pounds, or about 700gms.

    The extra weight is quite apparent in this larger sword when handled, and the blade is still very sharp. The first six swords and my other 2 examples in this size would only be effective as thrusting weapons (still as the Romans recorded this is the most effective way to mortally wound). This is the reason for the ‘waist’ or narrowing of the final blade area near the tip as can be seen on late East Zhou swords.

    This larger sword does in contrast to the many lighter thrusting swords have the feel of a blade that could deliver a meaningful cutting blow or slash, i.e to incapacitate a limb or with the right opportunity to mortally wound.

    In weight and feel I would compare it to the ‘type 3’ sword I handled.

    When the first swords appear in China is a matter on which I would consider the label ‘jian’ or ‘dao’ {sword, double edged & saber respectively} unsuitable as a basis for dating. Many early knife-like blades of >< 30cm of length are called ‘jian’ (West Zhou), or even short cleavers as ‘Dao’ in the Shang period but I feel that until a weapon evolves that can cut and thrust effectively the true sword has not arrived. The late East Zhou and more correctly the Warring States period is when the sword comes of age in China in the larger bronze forms and the iron swords of the same period.



    Another feature which reminds me of the ‘type 3’ sword in my friends collection is the silvery sheen of the bronze blade. Unlike the ‘red’ or golden bronze which is more common I suspect this blade also has a higher tin content, and hence was made more robust.

    This means a sharper edge and a harder blade.

    At the tip here are the remains of wood fused to the blade, from the scabbard the sword was buried in. There are many small patches of wood across the blade, and another comparable patch near the crossgaurd.



    The simple crossgaurd is more comparable to a hollow hilted sword. Above this can be seen another patch of wood on the blade. The hilt has many ‘psuedoforms’ or mineralized formerly organic materials. These are converted into the same minerals, e.g malachite, as the corrosion products of the patina. This material is as stable as the patina itself, and converted silk strands can under strong magnification look like green glass, and an enlarged fabric weave appear as if made from wound fibre optic cables.



    The hilt is also odd in that the grip was made of wound silk threads which were then covered by a very thin layer of wood atop. It seems odd when common hilt bindings might be fabric wound about (hence the rings on the hilts) or else a wooden grip, sometimes then bound by cord or silk threads (as seen on iron jian and dao).

    In this instance I speculate the effort was made so that the external wooden hilt grip could be lacquered in the same manner the scabbards were treated. Black lacquered scabbards of the period have on occasion survived. Perhaps the owner liked the effect of the hilt matching the scabbard? The underlay of silk cord however is odd since this would seem unnecessary. It did occur to me however that to get a lacquer to hold or bond onto underlying fabric may be much easier that coating wood directly onto bare metal, in terms of ‘gripping’ of the resin onto another surface.

    Coatings and numerous layers of lacquer would make the wood fuse as one to a fabric beneath. This is my speculation at present.




    To illustrate the size of these bronze jian developed for thrusting this picture shows how relatively short many such blades are. This sword has a fairly slender blade but of a representative length. It is the 44cm hollowhilt shown above.
    While longer iron swords existed and later replaced short swords over time such short & practical blades of this type were used for centuries during the climatic struggles between feudal Zhou states.
    The versatility of a weapon like this in close fighting or in a grappling range is clear. A thrust into an armpit or a belly could be made very swiftly with such nimble weapons. It is comparible in feel to a military bayonet.
    Note though regarding scale here that just as modern Chinese populations have grown taller in the last 20 years the truly ancient populations of humans throughout the world tended as a rule to be smaller. Such weapons hilts are noticeably small in any modern people’s hands (but not any more than Bronze Age European hilts it seems). Ancient warriors having noticeably smaller average stature is probable.
    Last edited by Kenneth Blair; 04-02-2007 at 01:55 AM.
    Tripitaka: 'You should live without fear. There's as much chance of good things as bad things.'
    Sandy: 'It's a cheerful philosophy and I've heard it from people before. They're all dead now though.' (1:4) .

    "The strange fact is that the world goes on against all reasonable odd. A hundred years, and even unimaginable evil is just called history."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    4,512
    Very informative posts Kenneth! Thank you!
    HwŠ­ere ■Šr fuse feorran cwoman
    to ■am Š­elinge. - Dream of the Rood


    "Ah, Blackadder. Started talking to yourself, I see."
    "Yes...it's the only way I can be assured of intelligent conversation."
    - Lord Melchett and Lord Edmund Blackadder

  5. #5

    Caster of such blades???

    Greetings,

    Awesome post! I love the look and feel of such swords! The board is not letting me pm you, but do you know of any sword caster who makes such authentic swords as the ones you have displayed? I would love to get my hands on one in the appropriate future. I today, actually printed off the wikipedia article "Sword of Gou Jian" for my own entertainment, and love the look of such a sword! I look forward to talking to you! Cheers, again!

    Best regards,

    Barrett Michael Hiebert

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    191
    An authentic casting, like is more discussed here by enthusiasts like Jeroen, No.
    Modern made reproductions?
    Yes. Plenty.

    You could get something that looks outwardly correct off e-bay quite easy if you can steer clear of the more fantastic monstrosities. In fact you would get nothing but modern made reproductions if you look under 'Chinese Antiques;swords' for all the sellers claiming to have ancient swords.

    Their bid or 'buy now' prices are quite cheap, but they charge huge sums to ship them, i.e $100 or a little either way. This is because even a novice collector might spot the fake, and then the seller can keep the postage costs and return the $10 price if a complaint is made.
    That's a nice profit when the postage would be a months wages for working class folk in China.

    Even the fakes can look OK outwardly in basic form and might be fun to have. I have considered getting one in the past.
    If that was the case I would haggle down the postage to something more realistic. Their profit margins are big enough.

    More often than not though e-bay is just good for a laugh when reading the comments the sellers add to the items descriptions.
    Tripitaka: 'You should live without fear. There's as much chance of good things as bad things.'
    Sandy: 'It's a cheerful philosophy and I've heard it from people before. They're all dead now though.' (1:4) .

    "The strange fact is that the world goes on against all reasonable odd. A hundred years, and even unimaginable evil is just called history."

  7. #7
    Greetings,

    Kenneth Blair:

    An authentic casting, like is more discussed here by enthusiasts like Jeroen, No.
    Modern made reproductions?
    Yes. Plenty.

    You could get something that looks outwardly correct off e-bay quite easy if you can steer clear of the more fantastic monstrosities. In fact you would get nothing but modern made reproductions if you look under 'Chinese Antiques;swords' for all the sellers claiming to have ancient swords.

    Their bid or 'buy now' prices are quite cheap, but they charge huge sums to ship them, i.e $100 or a little either way. This is because even a novice collector might spot the fake, and then the seller can keep the postage costs and return the $10 price if a complaint is made.
    That's a nice profit when the postage would be a months wages for working class folk in China.

    Even the fakes can look OK outwardly in basic form and might be fun to have. I have considered getting one in the past.
    If that was the case I would haggle down the postage to something more realistic. Their profit margins are big enough.

    More often than not though e-bay is just good for a laugh when reading the comments the sellers add to the items descriptions.
    Thanks for the fast reply. That is really too bad they don't make authentic historical reproductions (stuff done like enthusiasts like Jereon), and personally, I would rather not buy anything off e-bay just because it is not what I am interested in; though I do understand that the money could benefit a working class family in China. Do I turn a blind eye about it, (a ethical question, I opt to bring up) or do what is best for me? I don't know at this point, but thanks for all the advice. I'm glad you mention such things as "benefits for working class", the truth is not often told enough, and we in our "worlds" often find reason to only look inward. Thanks again, and sorry for my little indulgence to the thinking grounds. Cheers!

    Best regards,

    Barrett Michael Hiebert

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    191
    I don't think I said the purchase of such fake swords benefits the working class, but I just used the wages that such people are paid as an indication of the living e-bay dealers can easily make via a PC.
    The only social group e-bay purchases like that would benefit is a sub-culture of scammers.
    Don't be concerned over not buying from them. It isn't like slamming the door on a charity collector for World Vision.
    It's the antique world version of a fake rolex.



    About more real ethical concerns, such as buying the real swords perhaps rural poverty does play a part in that although there are many factors. Site destruction, construction projects and organised looting for example. Such items are certainly taken from ancient tombs.
    That is a market with it's own dynamics. Chinese collectors now pay good money for the real items and less is reaching Hong Kong and prices have nearly doubled in 2 years. Such weapons are still sold openly and legally in public in China which to me is a paradox when the looters alone suffer draconian punishment. Since the export of these antiques is presently legal from Hong Kong (although less are coming out), and Chinese citizens are not discouraged from collecting these pieces themselves from internal markets, I will use this window of oppurtunity before the supply of items reaching the West vanishes.
    This is not to say the sites destruction & tomb robbing will stop, but just I expect in future that wealthy Chinese collectors will be fully funding the market themselves.



    Buying quality reproductions or authentic modern cast bronze is the only way that doesn't have some ethical concerns, yet so far as I can see at present for Chinese swords of this period like this there is no such thing.
    Last edited by Kenneth Blair; 04-02-2007 at 09:56 PM.
    Tripitaka: 'You should live without fear. There's as much chance of good things as bad things.'
    Sandy: 'It's a cheerful philosophy and I've heard it from people before. They're all dead now though.' (1:4) .

    "The strange fact is that the world goes on against all reasonable odd. A hundred years, and even unimaginable evil is just called history."

  9. #9
    Thanks again for the great photos!

    Black lacquered scabbards of the period have on occasion survived.
    Do you know by any chance detailed information on these scabbards? Like what kind of wood they were made from, how they were constructed (glued or bound together). So far I've found a single image:
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    191
    Yang Hong's "Weapons is Ancient China" says;
    "For the sake of carrying and protection double edged bronze swords were generally kept in sheaths. Sheaths made of carved ivory or bone have been discovered is Loyang, but generally they are made of wood covered in light brown lacquer."
    I have seen other pictures of swords like your attached image.
    In the Taipei Museum (NPM) I saw a Han era iron sword perhaps just under 1m long with jade fittings still in the glossy black lacquered sheath. The banded look, almost like it was wound with duct tape, was the same as your image, but when I saw the Han sword up close the bands were almost as wide as my finger. On the East ZHou sword in your picture they are closer. On this Han sword it looked like banded glossy plastic. Perhaps I should have looked closer still, but there was a lot to take in that day!

    I have a plain but similar sized iron sword to that which I purchased mainly to get a look at the scabbard remains, although the scabbard outer surface must have been quite different and the wood was only a rusty colour, or was stained by the iron.
    http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/ind...showtopic=9583

    Yang Hong says of iron swords found in excavations;
    "The blades of the iron double edged sword is narrow & long, with central ridges of both sides an a sharp point. Some iron swords have a bronze pommel and a bronze guard. About one half or the iron swords unearthed are intact, and are all 80-100.4cm long, except for one which has a length of 73.2cm. Most of them are in wooden sheaths with silk string and lacquered."

    At numerous points on my iron sword the silk threads, seemingly quite spaced out, can be seen on the outer surface. I only posted a few images that show this.

    It seems different to the 'duct tape' strips seen on others. Most line drawing of hilts show this wide banded look.

    About the wood, Richard Nable IIRC told me the scabbards were made of cedar or a light wood. The pictures I looked at of cedar grain, fleetingly in truth, looked comparible to the iron swords remains by the crossgaurd.

    One thing I found oddly consistent is that the wood preserved on the hollow hilt from the early Warring States period, the Han dao fragment of bronze and the iron sword (prob. Han too) all had the same wood features visible in scabbard remains under magnification. Quite light and pithy looking from my impression and the same discrete tiny 'chamber' structures in the wood despite being perhaps used a few centuries apart.
    This was just something I noted at 70x magnification and I rightly or wrongly assumed it was all the same type of wood.
    Not every scabbard imprint has the same look I should add though, but it may just depend how well they survived. Just about every blade I look at tends to have traces of wood contact if I look millimetre by millimetre.
    Last edited by Kenneth Blair; 04-03-2007 at 01:57 AM.
    Tripitaka: 'You should live without fear. There's as much chance of good things as bad things.'
    Sandy: 'It's a cheerful philosophy and I've heard it from people before. They're all dead now though.' (1:4) .

    "The strange fact is that the world goes on against all reasonable odd. A hundred years, and even unimaginable evil is just called history."

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    191
    Here is another pic of a hollow hilted sword and scabbard I saved to my PC long ago.
    The same style to the images of scabbards & hollow hilt swords on bronze figures from the Marquis of Zeng's tomb shown in 'Weapons in Ancient China'.

    The waisted tip of the sword is repeated in the scabbards.

    The example I saw at the NPM is still hard to explain when my impression was of actual physical bands of black material on the scabbard.
    The look of decayed leather armours where the lacquered skins have survived has the same glossy black look. In that instance it was said the leather decayed but the lacquered skin remained.
    Maybe after enough coats of a scabbard these rings of resin are created atop wood and banded silk and later can even appear to to split as the wood base corrodes.
    Tripitaka: 'You should live without fear. There's as much chance of good things as bad things.'
    Sandy: 'It's a cheerful philosophy and I've heard it from people before. They're all dead now though.' (1:4) .

    "The strange fact is that the world goes on against all reasonable odd. A hundred years, and even unimaginable evil is just called history."

  12. #12
    Thanks for the info! The silk wrapping makes a lot of sense. I've also read that traditional chinese lacquers were often colored red or black using either red or black hematite.

    Regarding han dynasty sword scabbards, I saw a perfectly preserved example in the British Museum, dating to 2nd-3rd cent. AD:

    http://1501bc.com/page/british_museum_2006/09140292.jpg
    http://1501bc.com/page/british_museum_2006/09140293.jpg
    http://1501bc.com/page/british_museum_2006/09140295.jpg
    http://1501bc.com/page/british_museum_2006/09140296.jpg
    http://1501bc.com/page/british_museum_2006/09140297.jpg
    http://1501bc.com/page/british_museum_2006/09140298.jpg

    It also shows the textile wrapping, you mentioned.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    851
    Thanks for all the information and insight, Kenneth!
    Some stories can't be told by words.
    Some legends are meant to die.
    Some bloodlines must come to an end.

    - Old Snake

    Whoever wins, the battle does not end. The loser is freed from the battlefield, the winner must remain there, and the survivor must live his life as the warrior until he dies.
    - Big Boss' final words to Solid Snake

    A name means nothing on the battlefield. After a week, no one has a name.
    - Naked Snake

  14. #14
    Greetings,

    Sorry for my long abscence...been busy with things...

    I don't think I said the purchase of such fake swords benefits the working class, but I just used the wages that such people are paid as an indication of the living e-bay dealers can easily make via a PC.
    The only social group e-bay purchases like that would benefit is a sub-culture of scammers.
    Don't be concerned over not buying from them. It isn't like slamming the door on a charity collector for World Vision.
    It's the antique world version of a fake rolex.
    Yeah, sorry, sometimes I ask questions or get into things that I truly don't understand, my apologies, but I do understand what you are saying. My parents are cruising the Yellow River (or at least their on a 3 week cruise in China...) I should of asked them to get me a fake antique bronze sword, just because they look nice...oh well! Another time...

    About more real ethical concerns, such as buying the real swords perhaps rural poverty does play a part in that although there are many factors. Site destruction, construction projects and organised looting for example. Such items are certainly taken from ancient tombs.
    That is a market with it's own dynamics. Chinese collectors now pay good money for the real items and less is reaching Hong Kong and prices have nearly doubled in 2 years. Such weapons are still sold openly and legally in public in China which to me is a paradox when the looters alone suffer draconian punishment. Since the export of these antiques is presently legal from Hong Kong (although less are coming out), and Chinese citizens are not discouraged from collecting these pieces themselves from internal markets, I will use this window of oppurtunity before the supply of items reaching the West vanishes.
    This is not to say the sites destruction & tomb robbing will stop, but just I expect in future that wealthy Chinese collectors will be fully funding the market themselves.
    Hmm...I see, good things to question and come to grips with. Thankyou for bringing them up.

    Buying quality reproductions or authentic modern cast bronze is the only way that doesn't have some ethical concerns, yet so far as I can see at present for Chinese swords of this period like this there is no such thing.

    I see...unless we can get Neil Burridge to learn and cast some...hehe! I would in the far future be willing to pay for a custom made one, if only I get get documented historical evidence: measurements, etc. for such a sword. Well, I guess that's it! I will be looking further for more reviews in the future, and thankyou for your post detailing the scabbards, etc. Very informative! Cheers!

    Best regards,

    Barrett Michael Hiebert

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Barrett Hiebert View Post
    Greetings,

    Awesome post! I love the look and feel of such swords! The board is not letting me pm you, but do you know of any sword caster who makes such authentic swords as the ones you have displayed? I would love to get my hands on one in the appropriate future. I today, actually printed off the wikipedia article "Sword of Gou Jian" for my own entertainment, and love the look of such a sword! I look forward to talking to you! Cheers, again!

    Best regards,

    Barrett Michael Hiebert
    Reproduction sword of King Goujian could be had. I've sent a message to your e-mail at hotmail. Please check.



    Last edited by Tom Wong; 01-29-2008 at 12:25 AM. Reason: add another photo of sword with stand

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •