Unusual Chinese duanjian with fine gilt mounts and a blade of non-Chinese origin.
Base 6.5 mm
Middle 5 mm
5 cm from tip 3.7 mm
Base 29 mm
Middle 28 mm
5 cm from tip 25 mm
16 cm from grip side of guard
Iron, steel, brass, wood, ray-skin, paper, silk.
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A nice example of a Chinese straightsword, called jiàn (劍), of the late Qing dynasty.
It is built around a straight blade with almost parallel edges and a so-called "male point"; a tip that is strongly triangular in shape. The blade is of good, practical geometry with slightly convex edge bevels that provide strength behind the edge. Blade in excellent, untouched condition and still quite sharp.
Proper blade geometry with not flat, but convex edge surfaces that provide strength to the edge.
There are three brass dots in the blade that resemble the Big Dipper, called Běidǒu (北斗) in Chinese. You can read more about its significance in my glossary article on the subject.
Close inspection of the steel reveals hints of a rather fine pattern and no forging flaws whatsoever. I expect a nice and fine pattern to turn up if the eventual buyer decides on a polish. I decided to leave it "as is" for those clients who prefer their pieces in original, untouched condition.
Hilt with a guard that is of classic "ace of spades" form. All mounts are of brass and engraved and pierced with designs of dragons. The wooden grip is wrapped with purple silk over a red paper background. It retains its original purple silk tassel, one of the two ends now missing.
As a grip wrapper myself I pay a lot of attention to original grip wraps on swords and sabers and it's not often that I come across a style of wrap that I haven't seen before. This jiàn comes with such a wrap. It's done with not one center loop, but two, braided into the main wrap. Such a wrap is easily twice as much work as a normal wrap and requires some experience from the wrapper. These loops get smaller as you braid the cords into them, and one needs to lay out the loops slightly oversized to accommodate this. This was all done very nicely on this piece, showing good skill from the wrapper.
It comes in its original ray-skin covered scabbard with a set of nice mounts that are en-suite with the hilt mounts. The scabbard retains its original purple silk suspension cords. These cords are woven purposefully in their intended shape with loops on either end, very different from later when just the desired length was cut off from a long piece of ready-made cord.
The scabbard shields are laid out so that the sword was worn in the Chinese style, on the left side of the body with the hilt pointing forward when sheathed.
In excellent condition throughout. No losses to the ray-skin. Hilt is tight. Some very superficial scratches in the blade. The only loss is one end of the hilt tassel, but we should consider ourselves lucky that it retained a tassel at all.
One of the better late Qing jiàn I have seen in quite some time. At first glance, it looks like a standard pattern of the period but when you zoom into the little details, it is obvious that every little thing is better done than the norm. A rather good blade, fittings of finer workmanship, all that in excellent condition, with no losses or repairs. The fact it retained its original silk cords and has a very unusual and more elaborate hilt wrap really makes a great package.
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A robust and heavy example, crafted with care.
A standard pattern Qing military saber, but with the rare addition of a label in Manchu.
Of classic shape, with a leaf-shaped blade on a socket, connected by a cast bronze base.
A very rare Chinese saber guard dating from the height of the Qing dynasty.
The hilt is in the typical Marwari Rajput style, made by Ram Namar in 1857 A.D.