Description A rather unusual Vi
Sheathed 83 cm
Sword 72 cm
Base 6 mm
Middle 4 mm
5 cm from tip 3 mm
Base 50 mm
Middle 45 mm
5 cm from tip 27.5 mm
65 mm from start of edge
Iron, steel, wood, rattan, silk, plant fiber cord
Atayal, northern Taiwan
European antique art market
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The Atayal are the indigenous inhabitants of the northern highlands of Taiwan. They were known as fierce fighters and originally had a headhunting culture until it was outlawed under Japanese occupation in the early 20th century.
Their largest sword is called the lalaw. It is characterized by its curved, scythe-like blade, forged in one piece with a socket-shaped hilt. They are stored in half scabbards that hold the blade by means of iron bars.
An unusually large and fine example. The blade is of good steel with a high-pitched ring when struck, and is finely polished for a tribal item. The socket-shaped iron hilt is bound with five bands of braided rattan, all nicely patinated.
The scabbard is of typical form, open on the right side. Remarkable is the high number of bars that hold the blade; 120 in total, with some distance the largest amount I have observed on a scabbard like this.
The scabbard still retains its brown silk woven baldric.
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With broad silver-clad scabbard, worked entirely in repousse.
With markings attributing it to the Tongzhou incident and a Japanese surrender tag.
With bifurcated S-shaped blade in talwar hilt.
Collected by a Russian prince from the hill peoples of central Vietnam in 1892.
Found in excavated condition, published with results of c-14 and XRF analysis.