Language: Manchu

Source: Classical literature

Description

 

Kuhen
Kuhen in Manchu means:

1. a large blood vessel in the belly of livestock that is attached to the spine
2. in traditional Chinese anatomy, a vessel along the spine that was thought to nourish the five vital organs
3. grooves on a knife, sword, or arrowhead
4. sprouts on a tree 1

In the Tongwen Guanghui Quanshu (同文廣彚全書) of 1704 it features in the arms section as being translated into Chinese as dāo cáo (刀槽) or "saber groove." 2

Function

Such grooves are often erroneously called "blood grooves", but their real purpose is to improve on the saber's handling characteristics by reducing weight in certain areas while retaining much stiffness.

The use of grooves also provided the bladesmith with an opportunity to add complexity to the aesthetics of the saber blade. At the height of Chinese saber making in the late Ming to mid-Qing dynasty, we see great variety in the combination of grooves, bevels, and dimples used for this purpose.

Chinese bladesmiths took much inspiration from the sabers of the steppe, as well as Japanese, Persian, and Indian design features.

For a complete overview of saber terminology, see: A Chinese saber glossary.

Saber grooves

Classic configuration of saber grooves on a 17th century Chinese saber.

Saber grooves

Double grooves, dimples and long backedge on a mid-Qing dynasty saber.

Saber grooves

A configuration featuring segmented grooves on an 18th century Chinese saber.

Saber grooves

Japanese naginata-inspired grooves on a 17th - early 18th century Chinese saber.

Saber grooves

Persian inspired U-turn grooves on a 17th century Chinese saber.

Saber grooves

Triple grooves featuring a U-turn at the forte, combined with a long back bevel on an 18th-century presentation saber.

 

References
1. Jerry Norman; Concise Manchu-English Lexicon, University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1978.
2. Tongwen Guanghui Quanshu (同文廣彚全書) or "Enlarged and complete dictionary" of 1704. A Qing imperial dictionary in Chinese and Manchu, each entry double-checked and approved by the Kangxi emperor.

Do you have anything for sale?

I might be interested in buying it.

Contact me

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

€5000,-

A rather well-made example of its type.

€1500,-

Used to move imperial orders from the emperor’s quarters to the recipient.

Price on request

Introduction The Manchu rulers of the Qing dyna

€475,-

Made of heavy silk with gilt copper alloy mounts.

€2000,-

With heavy pierced silver mounts in with archaic dragon designs.

€1600,-
ARTICLE
The Bikaner Armory
The enthusiast of Indian arms and armor will sooner or later hear a...
Read the article
ARTICLE
Edged Weapons of the Green Standard Army
The Green Standard Army was a large standing army of the Qing dynas...
Read the article
ARTICLE
Antique Vietnamese swords
A reference list of antique Vietnamese swords and sabers I've ...
Read the article
ARTICLE
Markings on Chinese swords
Most markings are found on military edged weapons, usually in the f...
Read the article