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Thread: Han Dynasty Jade Sword Pommels - How Were They Attached??

  1. #1

    Han Dynasty Jade Sword Pommels - How Were They Attached??

    Hi All,

    Lately I have been appreciating the beauty of jade sword fittings from the Han Dynasty. What I can't figure out though is how they were attached. Many of the examples that I have seen only have a narrow circular groove in the underside of the fitting. Have a look at this one for example:

    Or this one:

    Others types have a hole, presumably for a pin, that passes from the flat bottom face at an angle to the circular groove. I have seen these with one, two, or three holes. Here are some examples:

    Some have a small through hole. I cant imagine that this would be for peening it onto the tang since this would likely crack the pommel during the peening process. Here is an example:

    Some styles almost have no features at all like this one:

    Here is one that confuses me even more. This one has two holes, but they are on the inside of the circular groove. This makes me think that these holes were not for pins, but to pass though a wrapping of some kind, or perhaps to help adhesion of a glue.

    To me, these features do not seem to be even close to robust enough to reliably secure a pommel to a sword. I can't find any modern reproduction swords that use a pommel like this in any way. They are all riveted on, or peened on. All of this makes me think that there was some sort of wrapping that passed over the pommel holding it in place. Has anyway ever seen anything that shows evidence of how these could be have been attached, or do you have any theories?

    I should mention that it is possible that some of the examples I have linked to may be modern fakes, but I believe most of them to be authentic.

    Would love to hear any thoughts!

  2. #2
    Hi again,

    Just wanted to try to get some interest in this. I have been struggling to find some good theories with the limited information I can get my hands on. I would love to hear any you may have, or if you have some good pictures or resources that you can recommend that would be great also. The style with the narrow circular groove and the three holes seems to be the most common. Here is an example:

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    I still can't think of any connection method that would be sufficient with such small features. I have also noticed that similarly small features are used to attach the chape. Have a look at this example:

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    Again, I would love to hear anything you have to add. Perhaps someone has taken pictures while visiting a Chinese museum? These swords are defiantly rare items but there are a few examples. Unfortunately good pictures of Han Jians seem to be even more rare. The swords shown in the link below may be well enough preserved to give some clues, but I can't find any detailed pictures of the attachment point to gather any.

    Thank you for reading. I hope this is of interest to someone else out there.


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