A very rare Chinese saber guard dating from the height of the Qing dynasty.
108.8 cm / 42.8 inch
93.5 cm / 36.8 inch
forte 6.5 mm
middle 6 mm
near tip 4 mm
forte 49 mm
middle 45 mm
near tip 37 mm
20cm from guard
Iron, steel, brass, wood, linen.
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An exceptionally large and heavy jian with long, wide blade. The blade is well forged, with inserted hardened edges and with a proper temper. One side of the blade is polished by Philip Tom to reveal its lamellar construction. The other side is left "as found".
The heavy guard is cast out of two plates, riveted together with iron rivets. The pommel is also cast, probably as one piece. Comes with original scabbard covered with linen and then lacquered red. Chape missing.
Chiseled in the blade is “勅今” which could either mean "imperial order" or "Daoist magic command". In the bracket are: "北斗七星南斗六星", or literally "Big Dipper and South Douliou Star", the latter is a Chinese constellation of six starts seen in the constellation we call Saggitarius. Both are significant constellations in Chinese Daoism. The guard somewhat resembles Taoist lotus-shaped candle offerings, and I suspect the sword was related to Daoist practice.
Many antique Daoist swords that survived have good, usable blades like this one. Perhaps it was part of the belief that the sword must be “live” to have significance. Most Daoist swords, however, are of the short variety.
A large and impressive sword, with large well-forged blade, that is probably connected to Daoist practices. Antique Chinese straightswords of this size are very rare, this is the only one I've ever seen with such Daoist markings.
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