A very rare Chinese saber guard dating from the height of the Qing dynasty.
88 cm / 34.6 inch
71.4 cm / 28.1 inch
forte 7 mm
middle 3 mm
near tip 2.5 mm
forte 33 mm
middle 32 mm
near tip 29 mm
16 cm from guard
Chinese, Qing dynasty.
Iron, steel, brass, wood, silk. Scabbard: Wood, brass, black lacquer.
Middle of 19th century.
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The yaodao, literally "waist saber" was the standard side-arm for the Qing dynasty military. In the 19th century, officers and soldiers would typically wear sabers with round cross-section handle and scabbard, a style called yuanshi or yuanzhuang. Soldier's sabers often had plain brass fittings during this period. Those of officers were decorated, often with pierced work with a theme of a dragons chasing pearls.
A classic Chinese officer's saber of the mid 19th century. It is built around a very good blade with complex groove combination. It consists of an upper continuous groove that terminates near the tip to make way for a sharp backedge. Under that is a segmented groove consisting of five segments of equal length, the last of which fades into the tip. The segmented part in turn is flanked by two very narrow grooves. Such sabers are all of forge folded construction with inserted high-carbon edge plate, not easily seen on this one because it remains in original, unpolished condition. Because untouched Chinese blades are incredibly rare, I decided to keep this one "as is".
The blade is of remarkable quality, the grooves are cut with a precision usually only encountered on older 17th or 18th century blades. All bevels and contours are nice and even, the backedge is sharply defined. There is a slight recess in the edge contour near the center of percussion, this is a sign that this part has been sharpened a little after sustaining damage in contact. A very common sight on antique Chinese military sabers that indicates they have probably seen combat. Blade otherwise in near-perfect condition with only very light pitting scattered over its surface.
It comes mounted in a full and complete set of brass yuanshi fittings, of fairly thick gauge brass for this type. The guard is unadorned on the blade side, but the back is engraved with two dragon chasing the flaming pearl. Likewise, such dragons meander through foliage around the ferrule, pommel, and scabbard fittings as well. The peening at the pommel remains intact, the back is shaped like a flower with four petals. The handle retains its original silk grip wrap, which is still tight after all these years. There is some play in the handle itself, dit some movement to guard, pommel and ferrule due to shrinkage of the wood over time.
All is in original, undamaged and only lightly cleaned condition. The only recent restoration was the renewal of the black scabbard lacquer, some 10 years ago, skillfully done.
A very good example of a mid 19th century Chinese officer's saber. It is of a very high level of quality for this type of saber, and remains mostly in original, untouched condition. The blade with crisp lines and bevels, even surfaces and deeply defined grooves.
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