Chinese tiebian
This item has been sold.
Overall length

72.5 cm

Rod length

58.3 cm

Weight

1163 grams

Point of balance

16.5 cm from grip

Materials

Iron or steel

Origin

China

Dating

16th-19th century

Provenance

From a Scandinavian collection

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Introduction

Biān () literally means "whip." Iron whips, called tiěbiān (鐵鞭) could either be a flexible weapon made of iron segments, or a heavy sectioned bar-mace. These go back until at least the Song dynasty, where they appear in the 11th century Wǔjīng Zǒngyāo. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, they were primarily used by guards and other elite forces.

Such maces were usually quite heavy and could easily destroy a sword or do substantial damage through armor, but their downside was, of course, they were much slower and required a high level of strength and endurance from its wielder.

During the Qing, a large tiěbiān was one of the iconic weapons of the Qing's elite forces, the jiànruìyíng.

 

This example 

A short iron tiěbiān. Its iron rod has a round cross-section. The shape mimics bamboo, with 11 segments in total. The hilt is a simple iron bar with polyhedral bolsters for "guard" and pommel.

The simple execution with no decoration makes it really hard to date, as this general form has been in use for centuries. The patina is also of no help, how fast a metal surface ages depends strongly on storage conditions which in this case are unknown. It probably dates from anywhere between the 16th to 19th centuries.

It has some condition issues, see photos, but is nonetheless a decent example of a famous but rare type of Chinese mace.

Chinese tiebian mace bamboo sectioned sword breaker
Chinese tiebian mace bamboo sectioned sword breaker
Chinese tiebian mace bamboo sectioned sword breaker
Chinese tiebian mace bamboo sectioned sword breaker
Chinese tiebian mace bamboo sectioned sword breaker
Chinese tiebian mace bamboo sectioned sword breaker
Chinese tiebian mace bamboo sectioned sword breaker
Chinese tiebian mace bamboo sectioned sword breaker

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