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Language: Mandarin Chinese


Pī jiàn (披箭) is the name of a class of broadhead arrows. Most pī jiàn were hunting arrows. Their wide heads did more damage to an unprotected target like an animal but had limited penetrative ability through protection worn by soldiers. Some special narrower pī jiàn were in use in the military as well, those were primarily used for close ranges where the arrow still hit with a lot of force.

Soldiers could choose how many regular war arrows and broadheads they could carry.

In the 18th century, the Qianlong emperor started to use alternative writing, pī jiàn (鈚箭), using the archaic character  . The arrow appears as such in the Huangchao Liqi Tushi (皇朝禮器圖式), or "Illustrated Regulations on the Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Dynasty".

In Manchu, the type of arrow is called niru.

Manchu Niru arrow

Manchu niru arrowheadA late 17th / early 18th century Manchu arrow of the pī jiàn type. Personal collection.



Tongwen Guanghui Quanshu (同文廣彚全書) or "Enlarged and complete dictionary"
A Qing imperial dictionary in Chinese and Manchu of 1704. Each entry double checked and approved by the Kangxi emperor.

Wuti Qingwen Jian (五體清文鑑) or "Five languages compendium"
A Qing imperial dictionary in Manchu, Mongolian, Uighur, Tibetan and Chinese of 1766. Published under the Qianlong emperor.

Huangchao Liqi Tushi (皇朝禮器圖式), or "Illustrated Regulations on the Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Dynasty", Palace Edition of 1766 (British Library, 15300.e.1). By Pu Jiang et al., eds. This version is based on a manuscript of 1759.

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A very rare Chinese saber guard dating from the height of the Qing dynasty.


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


Of classic shape, with a leaf-shaped blade on a socket, connected by a cast bronze base.


Built around an imported blade, with a human head shaped pommel.


A standard pattern Qing military saber, but with the rare addition of a label in Manchu.


A robust and heavy example, crafted with care.