Language: Mandarin Chinese

Description

Báitóng (白銅), also known as baktong in the Cantonese dialect, is a an alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc that is thought to have been used by the Chinese as early as the 10th century A.D. Initially the alloy was found only in Yunnan.1

The Chinese have sold ingots of the material to the western world since 1597 until the latter figured out how to make it themselves in the 18th century.2

Today it is more commonly known as "German silver" as it were the Germans who first started to produce the alloy in commercial quantities. During the Qing, the export of the prized material was forbidden but was nevertheless smuggled plenty through maritime trade.

Use

In the realm of arms and armor, báitóng is often used for mountings of knives and swords. It is most commonly used on trousse fittings, but also encountered on swords and sabers from time to time.

Trousse set

Báitóng caps on the container of an elaborate Chinese trousse set.
Personal collection.

 

Baitong mounted saber

Baitong sword guard on Chinese saber

A rare báitóng mounted Chinese saber.
Sold by Mandarin Mansion in 2018.



Notes
1. Joseph Needham: Science and Civilisation in China, Vol 5-22: Chemistry and Chemical Technology, page 190.
2. Ibid, pages 227-228.

 

 

Do you have anything for sale?

I might be interested in buying it.

Contact me

With wootz handle with fine pierced pommel dome.

€3500,-

From approximately the 5th to 3rd century B.C.

€2800,-

Built around a beautifully forged blade, in full polish, revealing a burl grain pattern.

€3400,-

Presented by the local Dai nobility to a British customs officer in 1936.

€3200,-

With designs of four dragons in scrollwork around a "wish-granting-jewel"

€5000,-

A fine Chinese straightsword blade, of typical Qing form with a rather wide profile.

€5000,-
ARTICLE
Of geese and willows
The differences between 雁毛刀 yanmaodao (goose-quill saber) and 柳葉 ...
Read the article
ARTICLE
Glossary of Chinese saber terminology
An overview of Chinese saber terminology as found in Chinese texts....
Read the article
ARTICLE
A typology of Chinese sabers
Introduction Historical references on Chinese saber types are scar...
Read the article
ARTICLE
Markings on Chinese swords
Most markings are found on military edged weapons, usually in the f...
Read the article