Built around an imported blade, with a human head shaped pommel.
Wood, rattan, varnish
European antique art market
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A Chinese carrying pole called dāntiāo (擔挑) or biǎndan (扁擔) in Chinese.
When I obtained this piece, it was a bit of a mystery to me what it was. The cross-section reminded me of a bow, but the paddle-like tips would be detrimental to arrow velocity. Looking at the placement of the two rattan "nocks", it looked a lot like the Asian carrying pole that is often used to carry two baskets over the shoulder. Comparing it with many museum examples, mine was more substantial and heavier and much better made than those.
When my friend Hing Chao came to visit, he grasped it with a smile and explained that it was a peculiar type of fighting carrying pole used as a "hidden-in-plain-sight" kind of weapon used in the martial arts of southern China and Vietnam. Aha! A weapon, after-all.
A very substantial piece. Made of heavy, dark wood with an old varnish. It has a thick, D-shaped cross-section in the center, tapering to both sides until the suspension points. The very tips have paddle-shaped ends. The center grip is wrapped with rattan, and two rattan knots at the tips prevent the carried load from slipping off the tips. The whole is very carefully finished.
One of the tips bears a shop name:
The character 庆 has an extra dot and is probably an earlier, pre-convention simplification of 慶. A common surname, pronounced Hing in Cantonese. Jì literally means "sign" or "mark" and is a common suffix in shop names, which could be interpreted as something like "brand".
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