Garlic bulb mace overall
Overall length

33 cm

Head size

32 mm diameter

31.5 mm high

(40 mm with base)

Pommel size

25 mm diameter

23 mm high

(27.5 mm with base)

Shaft

Length 17.1 cm

Taper 9.5 - 9 mm

Weight

367 grams

Point of balance

7.2 cm from hilt

Materials

Iron, brass.

Origin

China, Ming or Qing dynasty

Dating

16th-18th century

Provenance

From a German source

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Introduction

Maces with garlic-shaped heads appear in Chinese military treatises since the mid 11th century. Their military use seems to have waned by the late Ming, but they remained in limited military service and civilian use well into the Qing dynasty.

They are listed during the Song dynasty as suàntóu (蒜頭), simply "garlic head", and in the Ming as suàntóu gūduǒ (蒜頭骨朵), literally "garlic head mace".

 

Garlic maces

Garlic maces in Chinese sources.
Left: Wǔbèizhì of 1621.
Right: Wǔjīng Zǒngyào of 1040-1044.

 

This example

A typical example of an antique Chinese garlic mace. It consists of an iron rod of round cross-section, with a cast brass head with eight "cloves". The hilt consists of a brass polyhedron with 14 facets, a form also described as a truncated cube. The pommel mimics the mace head and differs primarily in size.

Dating is difficult with these, as styles seem to have changed little. Most collectors attribute them to the Ming dynasty but I believe their use did continue into the Qing but they did become far less common.

 

Chinese garlic bulb mace
Chinese garlic bulb mace
Chinese garlic bulb mace
Chinese garlic bulb mace
Chinese garlic bulb mace
Chinese garlic bulb mace
Chinese garlic bulb mace
Chinese garlic bulb mace
Chinese garlic bulb mace
Chinese garlic bulb mace

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A purely Chinese guard and not a very ornate one, converted for Japanese use.

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With heavy pierced silver mounts in with archaic dragon designs.

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€9500,-

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

€800,-

A peculiar cast iron sword guard, probably from the South China Seas area.

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Such rings were worn by Qing dynasty "bannermen" as a sign of their status as a conquest elite.

€600,-