Grip wrapping by Peter Dekker | Mandarin Mansion

Grip wrapping by Peter Dekker

As the medium between the hand and the weapon, a quality grip wrap is of considerable importance to the feel of a sword. Peter has figured out various historical methods of wrapping antique Chinese swords and sabers.

His extensive study of the colors and materials used enables him to advise on which style, material and color suits your weapon best.

On antique swords and sabers he can artificially age the finished wrap as to match the wear and tear on the old fittings. See examples of his work below.


Or have Peter do it
Peter's grip wraps are known for their historical accuracy and durability. He works with various types of natural cotton of historical braid and dimensions. Sometimes there is a limited supply of high-grade silk at hand.

Basic grip wrap: €65,-
Special technique wraps from: €80,-

Among the options:
Wrap with true indigo blue cord: +€20,- (Suitable for jian and various saber types.)
Wrap over a red pith paper background: +€20,-
Artificial ageing: +€20,-

Comments by Peter

Wrap on an eighteenth-century officer's saber with gilt mounts.
This is one among the highest quality pieces I've had trough my hands "in the wild" -that is outside a museum collection- and it was a joy to wrap. I chose my highest grade, hand-woven and naturally dyed cord in the appropriate vibrant green color for this job.

High grade silk wrap on a the newly fabricated hilt for an antique jian.
For most restoration jobs it is enough to only send me handle before assembly, this saves one a lot of shipping costs, duties and custom's hassle. I do many of these jobs in collaboration with Philip Tom who performs the other restoration work and final assembly. This particular jian remains one of the wraps I am most proud of in terms of wrapping, the way the cord responded to the aging process and the way it ended up suiting the weapon it was intended for. Working with the best quality silk cord while wrapping the work of fine handle makers like Philip helps bring everything together.

Double diamond wrap on an old niuweidao hilt with antique brass fittings.
For the big, hefty niuweidao I chose a thick green cotton cord to match the robustness of blade and fittings. This was part of another restoration job commissioned to Philip Tom. It took me a while to figure out this style of wrap working from what was then the only photograph I had of the style. Later, two other antique examples turned up for me to study. At present I don't know of anyone else to have mastered this style of wrap.

High-grade blue silk on a newly fabricated handle for an antique twist-core saber.
This is his highest grade, hand-woven, naturally dyed, silk cord I have acces to, which I wrapped over a newly fabricated handle crafted by Philip Tom.

An eighteenth-century peidao in patinated brass fittings.
Simple wrap in a straightforward military style, as seen on a number of examples of mid-ranked military officer's sabers in the Beijing Military Museum. With artificial aging to match the overall look and feel of the piece.

Nineteenth-century saber with double diamond style wrap.
A peculiar, rather broad saber with tri-fullered blade, with sharp and raised backedge and S-shaped guard. Its handle rests between heavy-duty cast brass Qing military pommel and ferrule. A peculiar combination of parts with a rather non-standard blade shape, I thought I'd make the grip wrap something else as well. I did this wrap using two pieces of cord wrapped in a two-color "double diamond" style. Again the cord is artificially aged to match the look of the piece.

Wrap on a modern reproduction liuyedao.
Done with high-grade green cotton cord, I also made a lanyard for this one.

Re-wrapping of an antique jian handle with paper background.
I got this handle in the mail with the request whether I could re-wrap it in a way that it was usable in practice but would be pretty much the same as the original. I always like a challenge so I went shopping for the right materials. I dyed cotton cord in the appropriate color and purchased red rice paper for the background.

Wrap on a well-used Dadao of the 南強合村, or "Southern Braves of the United Village".
Dadao require a different wrapping method from regular dao and jian. Various dadao-wraps are known to exist and this is one of the more elaborate methods used. After wrapping I artificially aged the handle for it to look "natural" on the piece. You be the judge!

The dadao before wrapping. See what difference it makes?

An early ring-pommeled jian.
Philip Tom and I pondered over the proper shape of a handle on this rare fighting quality ring pommeled jian and decided the hilt had most in common with dadao than anything else so we went for that shape and wrapping style. Study of a few rare extant examples confirmed our suspicions, a dadao style handle it was, of course wrapped in appropriate style.

Peter Dekker

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