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Thread: Ancient Chinese Swords

  1. #1

    Ancient Chinese Swords

    Hello to all! this is my first thread on this site.
    I sold a collection of American and European military swords and weapons a few years back, now it seems for peanuts, since the values are much higher 10 years later. Oh well....
    Lately I have been keenly interested in all the "ancient" chinese weapons I have been seeing turning up on ebay. I did some homework and in researching the internet on these weapons (thats how I found this site) I can not find very much info. I have a few books- "Sword and Hilt Weapons" and "Soldiers of The Dragon" which give photos and fairly good descriptions of the weapons. It seems that although there may be quite an industry in China to reproduce these items, with all the new construction and especially the new 3 Gorges Dam project, there has been wholesale looting of thousands of tumuli all around China resulting in large collections of ancient bronzes being amassed by sellers who sell these cheaply as they have so many. I contacted a few sellers on ebay and questioned them as to where the swords came from. Some of these sellers are very evasive, but a few have been very eager to describe their collection activity. One in particular outlines how he travels to certain locations where groups of tombs have been opened and buys these artifacts for pennies from the poor country folk who either have freshly dug them or have had them in the family closet for a while. These range from Shang to Han Dynasties including Zhou and Warring States pieces. After studying several photos online, I took a chance and bought 5 of these for very low prices. They seem to make a killing on their "shipping charges" as I received two swords at one shipment with the EMS sticker and charges typed on it- 319 yen which I believe is only about $3.50. he charged me $65. Well, you know, these pieces are very beautiful. Two of them are carved and inlaid with silver on the blades and done extremely well. One has an "ear" shaped pommel, which is really two swans face to face. They seem to be cast in one piece, but I carefully cleaned the Hollow ring hilt sword of its rather thick patina to find a very beautiful brown bronze weapon with a wonderful silver inlay pattern and chicken scratch ancient Chinese lettering also inlaid. The others include a smaller "warring States" period example (with a rare plain bar hilt and disk pommel) that has never been sharpened and through its green patina I can make out an inscription and obvious gold plating. Seems like a good candidate for a grave good. I also purchased a short one piece Animal head dagger with wonderful carved handle and curved blade and a very plain small sword with ring hilt and no decoration at all. this one has a heavy green encrustation and as with all these pieces, earth either inside the hollow hilts or encrusted on the exterior. Now I know that the Chinese are very resourceful and being fine artisans, could have reproduced these, perhaps even down to the green patina, but these are so expertly made and so perfectly light and balanced weapons, I feel sure that they must be genuine articles. I cannot see a forger doing such painstaking and time consuming work even for the 75 to 100 bucks I laid out for each one, The larger inlaid swords both seem to have the blades made separate from the hilts and then welded in place. Most of what I have read described them as cast in one piece. Maybe cast together, but the hilt on the ring hilt sword, although flowing apparently seamlessly into the blade, is obviously of a different mix of bronze as it is slightly redder (almost imperceptively) than the blade metal.
    Anyway, I would like to know if any of you have similar swords and what your take on them is. Fill me in on any historical point you can muster. If these are fakes, then I am still very happy with what I purchased as they are very very nice pieces and worth, to me, what i paid. I do not think they are reproduction because of the workmanship, the genuine encrustation, and they match the description in my reference material to a T. Any info or comments is appreciated. Thanks!
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Qishan, Taiwan
    100% fake and mass produced.

    If you knew the production cost of those, you would get upset.
    But see it as a contribution to the Chinese faking mafia and smile...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    ... I'm with Hermann on this one. I am sorry if you have paid thinking they are antiques.

    This is not a personal attack on the buyer;

    It is strange that people think that if a person is poor, they are stupid or don't appreciate the value of items. Under a hundred bucks for something over 2000 years old??

    THe way these things work is to make them in bulk and mark-up the shipping costs substantially. What you paid $160 odd dollars on probably cost 9 or $10 and spent the last 12 months under a pile of moist horse dung to develop that prized patina.

    Unfortunately your tale is all too common here.

    On the bright side, you haven't lost a huge amount of dollars, you have found SFI and you should learn a lot here. And the bottom line is that if you like the pieces then the money is well spent.



    PS. Welcome to the forum

  4. #4


    Well, I figured as much after reading posts by Kenneth last night. All I spent was anywhere from $25 to 75 each and they were shipped together in two bundles at $75 and $65 shipping, so a small amount spent on a chance. I actually do like them as they are very nicely made. I'll still make a nice wall display. Perhaps I'll go back to American and European swords, but wow they've gone up quite a bit since I collected them last. Thanks for the input!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    Hello Alexander,

    Heritage laws in China are quite strong. Objects over 100 years old cannot be exported out of the country and millenia old weapons and armour are no exception.
    I agree that these can look very nice, but not for the price paid.

    This happens to everyone in some degree or other at some point, don't let it discourage you.

    Always check your assumptions...there are no contradictions.
    Get some real news...

  6. #6

    I've made a few of those contributions as well

    But no more; I'm sticking with reputable sources even if the price is high. Good luck in your future collection pursuits.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Beijing, China
    fake! keep away~


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