Description

Lóngquán (龍泉) is a town along the Ou river in Zhejiang province, China, known for its sword making. Until the Tang dynasty, the town was called Lóngyuān (龍渊), yuān meaning a deep pool, or deep or profound in regards to the meaning of something. The founder of the Tang dynasty, Emperor Gaozu, banned the use of the character yuān as it was part of his personal name. Before this event, swords from lóngquán could also be called yuān jiàn (渊劍); "deep well sword".

 

Daoist 100 refined steel shuangjian

 

Daoist shuangjian markings

An old set of double swords with an inscription that refers back to the town's past name.
Sold by Mandarin Mansion in 2021.

 

Right sword:

龍泉

Lóngquán

Left sword:

渊劍

Yuān jiàn

"Deep well sword"

 

 

Known Lóngquán makers

Several workshops are mentioned in Chinese sources. These were called jiàn pù (剑铺) or sword shops.

Qiān Zì Hao (千字号)
Founded 1748. Active to at least Guangxu period (1875-1908).

1748, the 13th year of Qianlong, blacksmith Zhèng Yì Shēng ((郑义生) opened the shop in Lóngquán East Street. He used a traditional method of guàn gāng (灌钢), combining molten pig iron and wrought iron to make swords. The method resulted in sharp swords that do not rust easily.

1830 (circa), Daoguang period, the Liào Tài Hé (廖太和) sword shop was known for skilled lòukè gōng (镂刻工), carving, in a decorative style of the Warring States period.

1858 (8th year of Xianfeng)
The Taiping Army was stationed in Lóngquán and needed a large number of swords and weapons. The fourth-generation grandson of Zhèng Yì Shēng, Zhèng Sāngǔ (郑三古)'s shop was overwhelmed by the surge in demand.

In the early Guangxu period (1875-1908), Zhōu Guóhuá (周国华), Zhōu Guóróng (周国荣) and Zhōu Guóguì (周国贵) submitted themselves as students to Zhèng Wénxuān (郑文轩) of the Qiān Zì Hao (千字号) sword shop with the son of Zhèng Sāngǔ as their teacher.

After graduation, Zhōu Guóhuá opened his own Wàn Zì Hao sword shop (万字号).1

 

Wàn Zì Hao (万字号)
Founded in 1861, active until the present.2

Opened by Zhōu Guóhuá after completion of his training with Zhèng Sāngǔ of the Qiān Zì Hao shop.3

2nd generation Zhōu Zǐwàng (周子望)

3rd generation Wáng Zhènmíng (王震铭)

4th generation Jì Zhōng (季忠)

 

Chén Guǎng Lóng (沈广隆
Active 1885-present

1st generation Chén Cháoqìng (沈朝庆)

2nd generation Chén Tíngzhāng (沈庭璋)

3rd generation Chén Huànzhōu (沈焕周)

4th generation Chén Xīnpéi (沈新培)

5th generation Chén Zhōu (沈州)

6th generation Chén Zhōngtiān (沈中天)

 

1885 (11th year of Guangxu)
1st generation Chén Cháoqìng (沈朝庆) starts making swords professionally in Lóngquán.

1894 (20th year of Guangxu)
2nd generation Chén Tíngzhāng (沈庭璋), son of Chén Cháoqìng founded the Chén Guǎng Lóng (沈广隆) sword shop at Xinhua street, Lóngquán.

1914
Governor Yang hosted the Lóngquán sword making contest, Chén Tíngzhāng won.

1915
Won the gold medal at the Panama–Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco.

1930
Won the best sword award at Nanjing Martial Arts Competition.

1942
Three sons of Chén Tíngzhāng, Chén Huànzhōu, Chén Huànwén, Chén Huànwǔ made a sword for Chiang Kai-shek.

1956
Chén Huànzhōu and Chén Huànwǔ made a sword for Mao Zedong.

1963
Chén Huànzhōu, Chén Huànwǔ, Chén Xīnpéi, Chén Wǔróng and four others established the Lóngquán Bǎojiàn Shēngchǎn Hézuòshè (龍泉寶劍生產合作社) or "Longquan Treasured Sword production cooperative".

1972
4th generation Chén Xīnpéi made a sword for US President Nixon.

1979
Received by chairman Deng Xiaoping for a group photo.

1983
The Chén Guǎng Lóng sword shop moved to a new location in dà shā (大沙).

1991
Chén Xīnpéi was officially recognized as a master of arts and crafts in Zhejiang Province.

2005
Xi Jinping visited the sword shop. Chén Xīnpéi and Chén Zhōu made a sword for him.

2007
Lóngquán sword making declared intangible cultural heritage. Chén Xīnpéi won a lifetime achievement award from the government later that year. 4
 

廖太和 (Liào Tài Hé)
Active since circa 1830, end unknown.

Excelled in carving and was known for using decorative motifs of the Warring States period.5

 

木字号 (Mù Zì Hao) or "Wood Mark Brand"

This maker is only known through a a marking on a sword in the Royal Armories in Leeds, accession number XXVIS.188.

 

Notes to known sword shops
1. https://baike.sogou.com/v299709.htm
2. https://company.fht360.com/c10490/about.html
3. https://baike.sogou.com/v299709.htm
4. From sgljp.com. Thanks for KK Cheung from www.lkchensword.com.
5. http://123.56.171.17/Feiyi/Project/info/p/2

 

Lóngquán marks on antique swords

The words 龍泉 can be found on many swords from the late Qing to the early Republican period. They appear almost exclusively on straight swords, jiàn (). While some of them appear to be made in the town of Lóngquán, I doubt that all Lóngquán marked jiàn are actually from the place.

 

Antique Longquan jian of the late Qing

Longquan mark

A lóngquán sword, previously sold by Mandarin Mansion.

 

The known makers listed above tended to inlay their blades with brass or copper.

 

Qiān Zì Hao, "Thousand Mark Brand"

Longquan jian by Qian Zi Hao

Longquan jiàn by Qian Zi Hao
Sold by Mandarin Mansion in 2022

The markings:

龍泉池劍
Lóngquán chíjiàn

"Dragon well pond sword"
 


Qián 

"Thousand"

 

Alex Huangfu published another such sword.1 The markings include the words:

龍泉渊劍
Lóngquán yuān jiàn

"Lóngquán deep well sword"

千字号
Qiān Zì Hao

"Thousand Mark Brand"

 

Notes
1. See Alex Huangfu; Iron and Steel Swords of China. (皇甫江中国刀剑). Jinan, Tomorrow Publishing House, 2007. Page 225.

 

Wàn Zì Hao, "Ten thousand mark brand"

Longquan Jian by Wan Zi Hao

Longquan jiàn by Wàn Zì Hao.
Mandarin Mansion inventory 2024.

The markings:

龍泉
Lóngquán

劍万
Jiàn Wàn

"Longquan sword 10.000"

 

 

Mù Zì Hao, "Wood Mark Brand"

Royal Armories

Longquan jian by Mu Zi Hao
Royal Armories in Leeds, accession number XXVIS.188.
Copyright Royal Armories.

The inscription reads:

龍風渊劍
Lóng fēng yuān jiàn

"Dragon phoenix deep well sword"

 

木字号
Mù Zì Hao

"Wood Mark Brand"

 

 

 

 

Other Longquan swords

A sword much like it was confiscated by the Japanese all the way up in Manchuria in the 1930s.1

Japanese postcard swords

 

Notes
1. See the first image in an article by Ben Judkins; Through a Lens Darkly (24): Captured Chinese Swords and Traditional WeaponsPublished online, 2014.

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A very good set of Daoist straightswords in a single scabbard. There is a lot to see here, but I will start…

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A Chinese shortsword made by a well-known Longquan maker.

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Typical Chinese hook sword, with seldom-seen fine silver wire overlay.

Price on request

With the swirling arabesque motifs that are typical for this period.

€5500,-

Mounted on a custom hardwood stand

€1600,-

With markings attributing it to the Tongzhou incident and a Japanese surrender tag.

€6500,-